2006 Conference General Sessions





Lucia Gomez
445, rue du Parc Industriel
Longueuii J4H 3V7 Canada
Day Phone: (450)4631717 ext. 369
Email: lucia.gomez@humanware.com

This presentation is a testimonial of a blind professional actually using Maestro as his
day-to—day tool. The purpose is to discuss how a mainstream PDA is used and what are the main benefits brought to a blind user in a professional environment. The ability to communicate via electronic material is an important requisite for visually impaired professionals. Maestro, the first accessible Mainstream FDA launched in the fall 004 by HumanWare allows the visually impaired to own and use a mainstream PDA in an accessible format. Using the state of the art wireless communications and Bluetooth peripherals, the visually impaired have the functionality found in the most advanced Braille notetakers at a fraction of the price. In addition, Maestro contains a Daisy bock reader and can be extended with a GPS orientation aid called Trekker that operates on the same platform. The end result is the availability of important tools in supporting the integration of the visually impaired in schools and at work to a much larger proportion of the disabled population.

Personal Digital Assistants (PDA5) are widely used as a personal agenda, data organizer and a communication device in working environments. Maestro provides accessible note-taking in the same package than the sighted employees. The testimonial will expose how Maestro is useful to the visually impaired to perform the various tasks needed in its daily activities such as managing contacts and appointments information, writing documents, reading books, recording notes or accessing information though the Web. The user will explain how, by using the same data structure than the native Windows CE applications, the information can be easily shared with other computers. The visually impaired can also display information on his device for the benefit of other sighted people.

The testimonial will also describe the benefits of having available in the same highly portable device other important aids such as a UPS orientation tool to tell the user where he is and how to get to a destination just when needed. The presentation will discuss about the availability of wireless communication networks and how they are used to offer advantages to the blind users. For example, how the device can be used to access public information networks though its Browser via the Wi-Fi capability or the use of Bluetooth in a modular system that can be operated with or without an external keyboard (Braille or standard) for extensive notetaking. Based on the users experience we will also propose various improvements to today’s functionality that will deliver new benefits not presently achieved. We will explore the potential of a product based on mass-market electronics and what are its future possibilities in terms of price, power, and connectivity.

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