2004 Conference Proceedings

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David A Skrivanek
Repro-Tronics Inc.
75 Carver Ave
Westwood, NJ 07675
Phone: 800-948-8453
Fax: 201-722-1881

In this ever more competitive world it has become increasingly more important to be able to provide people with vision impairments access to as much information and technology as possible. Braille transcription has become a much easier task by using Braille transcription software such as Duxbury but the ability to include graphics to supplement the Braille had remained a difficult task to most transcribers.

Tactile Graphics Designer (TGD) PRO Software has for that past 6 years provided a solution to provide a method whereby smooth line graphics can be generated and printed though the Tactile Image Enhancer and raised on Flexi-Paper. In addition TGD provides a method to convert those smooth line graphics into Braille dots to be sent to the embosser. The graphic files generated in TGD can be imported in Duxbury or Megadots and placed specifically where they belong. In addition we have developed a method that combines three programs together to produce Nemeth equations with the plot of the equation placed directly after it. This method utilizes software from Scientific Notebook, Duxbury and TGD.

Tactile Designer Workshop adds to the strengths of Pro by adding an additional segment entitled AudioBraille and AudioPIX.

This seminar will demonstrate the various aspects of Tactile Graphic Designer (TGD) Workshop software.

TGD software is a suite of programs that was specifically designed to create graphics for people with vision impairments. It is quite unique in that TGD has the ability to convert a smooth line graphic into Braille dots and output it into an embosser. The various parts of the program are:
AudioBraille and AudioPix
User Profile

Included in the Workshop package is a TagPad, TagPad brackets, a Barcode reader, Barcode Fonts plus a microphone earphone combination and 7 Braille lesson plans produced on Flexi-Paper.

The first stage, of course, is to install the software and then to run the "Setup" portion of the program.

"Setup" is a series of pages that set the parameters for the various pieces of equipment that will be used. The first is to register the software to the particular computer it is on. The next page is to designate the type of TAG/pad being used and determine to COM port that it is connected to. The next page will allow us to tell the computer the Braille Embosser we are going to use and allows the graphic to be generated in a "High-Resolution" format. (High-resolution means that while embossing the graphics the Braille dots will be closer together than those produced for regular Braille. This makes the graphics much easier to read and the lines far less jagged.) There are a number of embossers provided for and those that have "High Resolution "abilities are enumerated. The final page allows the user to use either metric or inch/mile measurements as well as choose the spoken voice output.

Graphics created in QikTac are produced as Braille dots. The graphics can be printed or embossed but the print version will print as dots rather than smooth lines.

QikTac has 12 different drawing tools plus methods for editing, adding Braille saving files and changing paper size. Al files are saved with a .sig extension

Import graphics, JPEG, BMP, GIF or WMF or create your own using the drawing tools included. Graphics can then be modified color and backgrounds removed. Any file created can be sent directly to a printer or converted to a Braille graphic and embossed. Graphics that are intended for printing can utilize various line styles and different fills included.

Mathematical plots generated in Scientific Notebook can be imported into TraceMe, edited converted to Braille and then imported into either Duxbury or Megadots.

A very powerful Braille teaching tool AudioBraille is supplied with 7 basic Braille lesson plans included. Lessons are Basic Alphabet, Abbreviations A to F, Abbreviations G to Y, Numbers, Word Signs, Initial Contractions with dot 5 and Initial and Final Contractions.

Lesson plans are placed on the TagPad and held in place with the brackets and the corresponding file is opened using the Barcode reader. Various Braille symbols are touched and speech describes what is represented. This can be as simple as a single Braille letter or a complicated contraction.

The beauty of the system is that additional lesson plans can be easily created by the teacher to conform to the needs of the student. The Barcode Font has been included with the software so that a teacher can generate a barcode for each new graphic created.

Files can also be accessed without the use of the Barcode Reader.

AudioBraille has a testing phase where the student must touch a particular Braille symbol and then type in the keyboard what he or she thinks it is. The student has three chances to get it correct or then the computer will speak the correct answer. There is a user profile that will provide the teacher a record of how much work the student actually applied to the testing part of the program.

Additional sets of lessons are being crated and will be made available at very reasonable costs. Examples of the lesson plans being developed are Grade II Braille, Nemeth Braille, and Music Braille

AudioPix is very similar to Audio Braille in that graphics are placed on the TagPad, files accessed, and then by touching the various tactile objects on the diagram speech descriptions or a sound generated by a wave file will be emanated.

Additional information can be added to each of the graphical representations on the total graphic. In this way very detailed information can be provided.
An example would be a diagram of the skeleton would be on the pad. When the head is touch the software would speak "Skull" "more Information" touching a particular point on the pad or the space bar on the computer would access the additional information describing all of the functions for the various bones in the skull. There are three levels of additional information that can be accessed.

It is a simple procedure for a teacher to create these files on his or her own.

Initial lesson plans are available at nominal cost. They are Human Biology, World Atlas and Orientation and Mobility.

Additional lesson sets are being created.

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