2006 Conference General Sessions




Larry Lewis
Optelec US Inc.
955 Pembrook Road
Cleveland Heights OH 44121

Day Phone: (216) 381-8107
Email: LarryL@optelec.com

This session will illustrate via concrete examples how wireless connectivity integrating Braille input and output leads to successful outcomes in the classroom and workplace.

This session will begin by surveying the current state of Adaptive Technology and will discuss trends indicative of current adaptive Braille and speech solutions. To be sure, many of today's solutions are designed to serve the various needs of persons who are blind in a variety of capacities through access to, or compatibility with numerous desktop and Pocket applications. While there is a great deal to appreciate about these current technologies, there are many unfulfilled needs which an alternative approach to portable information access can meet.  

The author will provide to the audience demonstrations of three revolutionary solutions for accessing these mainstream technologies. Access to a mobile phone through synthesized speech and a means of wireless Braille keyboard navigation and entry will manifest Optelec's commitment to take advantage of the numerous mainstream strategies for portable information access through an industry standard cellular phone solution. Two needs are fulfilled by adopting this strategy. Firstly, the user now has at his disposal all of the functionality of an accessible cellular phone at his fingertips. Secondly, by incorporating portable Braille keyboards into this solution, the user may now extract the off the shelf PDA functionality out of this phone into a comfortable alternative that is familiar to him performing many of the tasks relevant to success in the classroom and workplace.

Secondly, the author will demonstrate the latest in efficient access to Pocket PC by utilizing a wireless Braille keyboard in conjunction with an appropriate user interface designed to meet the needs of the blind student or professional who requires portability throughout, and connectivity to his environment using a standard, off the shelf pocket PC. Again, these keyboards give to the end user a great deal of familiarity to an environment that has been available to sighted individuals for years at a much lower price point than the proprietary notetaking solutions familiar to blind students. Optelec has preserved much of the rich, Versa-Braille and Braille n Speak aspects of the user interfaces to these devices, but now has the privilege of leveraging this know-how off the mainstream technological wave which immerses a predominately sighted society.

Thirdly, the author will unveil Optelecís newest wireless refreshable Braille product offering which provides direct access to, and control of a desktop PC, Pocket PC, and a cellular phone. This solution provides state-of-the-art refreshable Braille access to all of the above mentioned devices allowing for one device to serve the end user in countless capacities. Examples will be given as to how this solution might serve the blind student and employee in a variety of educational and vocational settings bringing the electronic, printed word to tactual life allowing for countless applications to be incorporated into a studentís educational experience.

The author will conclude by looking to future considerations relating to the implementation of refreshable Braille access to these and other technologies which the Optelec Group will be unveiling in the coming months, and challenging the audience to move beyond the traditional, often limiting scope of current notetakers towards a paradigm shift whereby the customer constructs an environment which is conducive for the student to flourish at a price that his school district can afford.

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