2006 Conference General Sessions

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Jeff Gardner
1853 Airport Avenue
Corvaiiis Oregon 97333

Day Phone: 541.754.4002 x 202
Email: jeff.gardner@viewplus.com

The presentation features an accessible tactile—audio system, called IVEO, from ViewPlus. Speaking—tactile documents will be made new, from existing Windows files and from printed materials.  Tactile graphics can be a useful tool for communicating diagrams and other visua1 material to blind people. However, the usefulness of tactile diagrams by people who are blind is limited by low levels of Braille literacy.

Labels to describe different parts of a tactile image, much of its effectiveness is lost.
When tactile diagrams are combined with audio labels to describe elements of the image, this greatly expands the utility of tactile graphics, creating opportunities for blind people who don’t read Braille as well as for people with certain learning disabilities. Tactile—audio technology has existed for many years to address this need, starting with the Nomad tactile—audio system. Since then, other commercial products have been created that are based on this core technology.
While existing tactile—audio products may offer rich pre—made curriculum, potential users are on the lookout for more advanced tools for creating their own tactile- audio materials, rather than relying on others to anticipate their varied needs. And blind users are seeking tactile-audio tools so well integrated into the mainstream computer environment that they can access graphic information independently.
This presentation will demonstrate the new IVEO tactile—audio system from ViewPlus, technology that is dedicated to ease and versatility for creating one’s own tactile—audio materials. IVEO is self—voicing and imports automatically from inaccessible formats so it is ideal for use by blind and sighted people alike. While creation and detailed editing of images can be difficult without the use of the computer’s mouse, many hard-to-access documents can easily be converted to the IVEO interactive format without assistance from sighted people. PDF, Powerpoint, and files from virtually any other Windows program, for example, can be imported into IVEO and explored with or without access to the computer’s visual interface.
The presentation will show how images created or imported into the IVEO Creator software, can be labeled with audio descriptions. There are two levels of audio description so each element of an image can have a short and a long description to ease in navigation while offering extended descriptions when appropriate.
Also demonstrated will be the IVEO Converter for bringing documents from any Windows application into the accessible IVEO environment. This feature is particularly useful when one is given files that contain images like charts and graphs or when materials are distributed in an inaccessible format. Once imported into the IVEO software, these files immediately become interactive. When selected, text from the original document is read aloud and images can be used with their original text labels and/or tagged with hidden speaking labels.
The IVEO Converter can be particularly valuable for blind students and professionals who are receiving documents in formats like PDF’ and Powerpoint. It is not unusual for sighted instructors and colleagues to distribute Powerpoint presentations or PDF files that include visual information like charts and diagrams. In this case a blind student or professional can instantly convert the file into IVEO and print it out (with a Tiger or on swell paper) .
Once the tactile printout is placed on the IVEO Touchpad, it can be explored by touch, and any print text used to label the chart or diagram in the original document will be spoken when it is touched or otherwise selected.
A similar process will be demonstrated for instances in which such materials are distributed in print. IVEO comes with ABBY FineReader high-quality OCR integrated so printed documents can be converted quickly and automatically to IVSO to include images and text in roughly the same format as on paper. This feature is also accessible without sighted assistance.
• There will also be a demonstration of the scaling features in IVSO. Since images and diagrams created for the mainstream are most often too small to be properly interpreted by touch, the IVEO Creator application provides a means to scale images to any size. Zoom in or out freely using the computer’s mouse or the IVEO Touchpad.
The presentation will include Lips for distributing IVEO documents. IVEO is ideal for trading files via email or for posting on websites. IVEO is based on an SVG file format so documents are compact in size and can be viewed with mainstream web browsers, like Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. For those desiring an interactive format, the IVEO Viewer is available as a free download so files can be distributed in much the same fashion as is done with Adobe Acrobat documents.
The IVEO Viewer is also useful for people seeking to minimize costs in distributing IVEO materials across their organization or network. A central location can create all the materials so access points need only the free IVEO Viewer software and IVEO Touchpad to read the materials and it is therefore not necessary to purchase the complete IVEO package for all locations using the technology.
The presentation has implications for professionals in the learning disabled and blindness communities alike. Studies in neurophysiology tell us that physical experience creates especially strong neural pathways in the brain. Beyond vision alone, using the haptic (touch) sensory modality engages the two hemispheres of the brain simultaneously assuring we retain information in long-term memory.
The haptic modality is the most active and interactive of all the senses and, unlike the visual or auditory modalities, it is bi—directional. Everyone learns better through haptic interaction with materials.
Details of equipment and software to be demonstrated:
IVEO Complete includes: 1) the IVEO Touchpad, a hardware device that connects via USB to the Windows platform for reading tactile—audio images, 2) the IVEO Creator
• software, a design studio for making new documents or editing images from other Windows software, 3) the IVEO Converter, a powerful tool that converts computer files and even printed materials to the interactive IVEO format automatically, and 4)
the IVEO Viewer, a freeware program fcr reading IVEO documents.

1. Parkes, D. (1988) Nomad: an Audio—Tactile Tool for the Acquisition, Use and
Management of Spatially Distributed Information by Partially Sighted and Blind
Persons. eds Tatham AF and Dedds AG, Proceedings of the Second International
Symposium on Maps and Graphics for Visually Handicapped People, King’s College,
University of Londnn,.pp. 24—29
2. Treviranus, J, Adding Feeling, Sound and Equal Access to Distance Education, Proceedings of the 1999 CSDN Conference, Los Angeles,
(http: //www.uterent ftc /.r
c/ y••r /ppçIae.htn 1)
3. Tactile/Kinesthetic Learning
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