Wednesday, December 10, 2008

iSign - Animated ASL dictionary for iPhone and iPod Touch

iSign is a tutorial and reference program for American Sign Languane (ASL) designed specifically for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The program contains an animated phrase book of 800 signs.

Each of the gestures is modeled with a 3D character and completely animated. The vantage point for each sign was chosen so that the user can see the details of the hand positions. These are the ASL signs, not finger spellings.

The program allows users to organise signs by category or alphabetically, and to mark favourites. There is also a quiz mode which tests recall either of all signs or of signs marked as favourites.

Screenshot from iSign

A program like this won’t replace classes with a live instructor. It can teach you individual words but not the grammar and syntax of ASL, which is very different from English grammar and syntax. And, of course, it can’t teach you about Deaf culture and history - which is very important to understand when learning any language. But for those who are taking classes, or wish to augment existing knowledge of ASL, it’s a fantastic resource. I wish there were a program like this for Australian Sign Language (Auslan)!

The program may also be of use to supporters and educators of people who use Makaton, Signed English/Signed Exact English (SEE), Pigeon Signed English (PSE)/Contact sign, Simultaneous Communication (SinCom), and all other communication methods which utilise ASL signs but not other aspects of the ASL language. These modified communication methods are often used by children with developmental delays, people with autism, and those with intellectual impairments as well as deaf and hearing impaired people. Parents teaching approximate ASL gestures for Baby Sign may also be interested in the program.

The iDev2 company also has an app which teaches ASL fingerspeling, ABCSign, and a “lite” version of iSign which is free and contains 25 of iSign’s 800 signs. You can try out iSign Lite before purchasing iSign to make sure it fits your requirements.

At the time of writing, iSign was retailing for US$9.99 in the iTunes Store.

Website: iSign

- Ricky Buchanan

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

FREE Portable Applications for USB

Click here to download free portable applications. Now you can carry your favorite computer programs along with all of your bookmarks, settings, email and more with you. Use them on any Windows computer. All without leaving any personal data behind.

Friday, October 24, 2008

White Stick for the Blind Gets Sensor Upgrade with "Tactile Wand"

Designer Jin Woo Han has created the "Tactile Wand" as a 21st-century conceptual white stick for the blind. The rechargeable gadget uses some sort of distance sensor and communicates by buzzing, letting the user know of upcoming obstacles: the stronger the buzz, the nearer the object. Neat design, Jin, but can it detect doggy doo like the old-fashioned stick could? What happens if the batteries die when you're mid-street crossing? We reckon it would take some re-education of cops too: pointing a strange looking stick at people in public these days is probably a big no-no.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

B&D Messenger Helps the Blind Read SMS

The B&D messenger, designed by Okada Noriaki, bills itself as a way for both blind and deaf people to communicate via text message. Though there are several Braille phone products already in the market, Noriaki device is much smaller in size and pretty inexpensive. On one side of the gadget is twelve points that rise and fall in braille lettering; on the other side is a small LCD screen and a regular numerical touch pad. Users must connect the B&D messenger to a computer for it to receive and translate texts.

Noriaki lowered the B&D's cost by building it's chassis out of cardboard (the entire thing can be put together yourself), and by running its braille lettering program off an open source platform. I'm not completely sure how this technology helps deaf people any more regular phones, but it's a cool concept for helping out the visually impaired.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hands-Free GPS Device for the Blind Could Make You a Superhero

The Navigation aid for the Blind headset is a GPS device, which not only works through speech recognition, but also uses obstacle detection technology that alerts the blind of any sleeping bums or other obstructions he could trip over as he is being guided to his destination.

In 2003, we reported on a GPS navigation device that led the visually impaired to their impending doom due to an "inaccuracy" of the system.

Although this new GPS device is not as cuddly as a guide dog, it is made up of one earpiece and microphone, which would allow the blind a certain anonymity, kind of like Daredevil, in that he would no longer need a cane or furry pet, which would leave both of his hands free ... to fight crime, perhaps?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Video iPods In Special Education

This video is about the use of video iPods in a special education classroom which caters for children with intellectual disabilities and language or hearing difficulties such that sign language (ASL) is their primary mode of communication. We hear from the teacher, the classroom’s primary interpreter, and parents and siblings about how useful the iPods have been. At first the teacher was understandably skeptical about how helpful iPods could be for a bunch of non-verbal children, but the range of novel uses for the iPods is fantastic to see.

Some of the things the video iPods were used for:

Sending verbal or video messages between teachers and parents instead of written messages.
Recording the kids’ accomplishments in class to show the teachers.
Recording stories read to the class, showing the book pages and sign interpreter and hearing the audio of the book being read.
Making videos of sign language vocabulary appropriate to the current curriculum so families could learn to talk to the students about what they had done at school.
Making video tutorials for specific signs requested by the family.
I’ve probably forgotten a few in there. I was awed by the special education teacher and interpreter and their willingness to try new things and to make the greatest possible use of technology. Good on you!

Who else is using the audio or video abilities of the iPods in classrooms? I’d love to post more stories about this topic.

Video Link: Introducing iPods into Special Education

- Ricky Buchanan, ATMac

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Circus Ponies Notebook 3.0 for Mac users

Circus Ponies NoteBook 3.0 for Mac users helps you organize your information naturally, using a familiar notebook interface, complete with pages and tabs, sections and subsections. Add notes and
Drag in files and folders. Even "clip" web research, mail messages and other
content into your Notebooks without leaving the application you're working in.
Try the free 30-day Trial

Notebook 3.0 comes with the following features:
Take control of your notes
Are you drowning in sticky notes? Boxes of note cards? Do you remember where to find that important web clipping?

Circus Ponies NoteBook is the application that helps Mac users manage all those bits of information that lack a good home

Track your Tasks

Actions Items. Tasks, To dos. Whatever you call them, you probably have quite a few. The challenge is staying on top of them all. NoteBook's built-in tools make managing your to dos a snap.

Manage Your Clips

Use NoteBook "Clipping Services" to copy web pages, e-mails, and other content directly into your Notebooks, without ever leaving the application you're working in.

Organize your personal and professional projects

More than just an outliner or text processor, NoteBook is a management software that supports Mac users at every stage of a project. In addtion, you can export your Notebooks to PDF for easy sharing, or use NoteBook's instant web publishing to convert them to websites for anywhere access.

Click on this link to Play a Video Tutorial

Circus Ponies Website:

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hands On: Sony's New PRS-700 Touchscreen Reader

Sony brought out a new Reader tonight in NYC that adds a six-inch touchscreen to the e-ink e-reader for adding notes and annotations, as well as a redesigned case and built-in frontlight. With the touchscreen readers can enter text with a stylus on a full-screen QWERTY keyboard to add notes and annotations, search for specific phrases or just flip through the page with a stylus or finger swipe. It'll hit at the end of October for around $400. Hit the jump for more impressions.

Text gets entered by tapping an on-screen QWERTY. Highlighting seems easy enough—just drag the stylus over the phrase you want to highlight. You can then easily search for that phrase elsewhere in your book. You can also tap the screen with finger or stylus to zoom in and out of pages. Format support is the same as previous readers, with the same added .epub support.Response on selecting text and zooming around is a little slow, as is the auto text completion when you're typing a note—typing with fingers is very tough, but with the stylus not so bad. Flipping through the pages with your finger is the most natural thing for the touchscreen and for that it's great.

Bottom line—at $100 more over the PRS-505 you get a built-in frontlight (a $70 add-on on its own) and the ability to annotate while you read. Like the other Sony Readers it's not super responsive (which makes touch controls more frustrating as a rule), but it gets the job done. It's worth noting that Kindle has been able to take notes since the beginning, and it adds web connectivity to the mix, of course. But if you're a chronic underliner and margin scribbler like me and you favor Sony for your e-booking, it's probably worth the premium.

Full press release:

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 2, 2008- With the latest edition of Sony’s Reader Digital Book, announced today, readers can truly let their fingers do the walking.

An interactive touch screen display allows for the most intuitive digital reading experience to date. The new model, PRS-700, will join the PRS-505 model in the Reader family to give consumers a choice of how they would like to read electronically.

Svelte and stylish, the newest Reader still sports the dimensions of a slimmed down paperback book. The textured black casing and soft black cover contribute to its envy-inspiring design. And, at about 10 ounces, it’s the perfect way to carry all of your favorite books with you wherever you go.

A sizeable six-inch display with touch screen capability allows booklovers to flip pages with the slide of a finger. In addition, readers can easily search terms within a document or book, create notes using the virtual keyboard and highlight text with the included stylus pen.

Five pre-set text sizes are available so readers can find the one most comfortable for them and for those who need an even closer look, zooming in is as easy as tapping the screen.

The device still features high-resolution, high contrast electronic paper display technology which provides a reading experience very much akin to ink-on-paper. The result is crisp text and graphics that are highly readable, even in bright sunlight. For times when ambient light is not available, Sony is the first to offer a built-in LED reading light.

Expanded memory offers enough capacity to store about 350 average digital books. Using optional removable Memory Stick Duo media or SD memory cards, this Reader can hold literally thousands of books and documents.

“Readers now have another choice in digital books,” said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s Digital Reading Business Division. “This new model has the eye-popping design and intuitive functionality that people have come to expect from Sony.”

Family Resemblance

Like its close relative the PRS-505model, the new 700 model uses minimal power and can sustain up to 7,500 pages of continuous reading on a single battery charge. It supports multiple file formats for eBooks, personal documents and music. With the included eBook Library 2.5 PC software, you can easily transfer Adobe PDF documents with reflow capability, Microsoft Word documents, BBeB files and other text file formats to the Reader. The device can store and display EPUB files and work with Adobe Digital Editions software, opening it up to almost a limitless quantity of content.

Improved Sony eBook Store

Sony’s eBook store will also have a new face. This month, a re-designed page layout with more prominent book cover art will improve the overall visual appeal of the site. A streamlined checkout process along with updated search and discovery make finding and purchasing an eBook a breeze.

Pricing and Availability

The new Reader will be available next month for about $400. It will come complete with a USB cable, eBook Library PC companion software and a color-coordinated, protective soft cover. Both the PRS-505 and the PRS-700 models along with their optional accessories can be purchased direct through, at more than 40 Sony Style® stores nationwide and at authorized retailers across the country.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Speel Check for Ipodtouch and iPhone

Achoom from iTunes
No internet Connection Required. Loads quickly and answers your query. Just enter a word into the text field and Spell Check will tell you if the word is correct or supply you with a list of possible spellings (see screenshot). The application can be downloaded directly from iTunes or from your iPodTouch

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 2.0 and iPod Touch
Language: English

Friday, October 3, 2008

Google Gears: Use Web Applications offline

Google Gear is a technology that lets Gears-enabled Web sites store information on your hard drive. In that way, you can use the services even when your Internet link has gone down. Currently, Gears works with with Google Docs but not Spreadsheets or Presentations. You can view your Google Reader feeds offline, WordPress blogging system, ZohoWriter word processor, and Remember the Milk info manager.

The first time you visit Google Docs after you install Gears, you see a link labeled Offline in the top-right corner of the screen. Click it to open the Gears warning. After you allow the service to store information on your PC, the sync begins.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Google's Android not an iPhone

Google's plans for the mobile phone market have caused quite the stir Monday, even though the company's press conference Monday morning didn't add much to what we already knew about Android, a collection of software that could be a catalyst for Linux on mobile phones over the next few years.
(read more)


software has never sounded so good or been so affordable.

NaturalReader is a Text to Speech software with natural sounding voices. This easy to use software can convert any written text such as MS Word, Webpage, PDF files, and Emails into spoken words. NaturalReader can also convert any written text into audio files such as MP3 or WAV for your CD player or iPod.

NaturalReader saves eye strain – relax, sit back and listen
NaturalReader saves time - listen while driving, exercising or enjoying nature
NaturalReader helps writers – improve by listening to your work
NaturalReader teaches second language students – expand your experience and understanding by listening to any text at any speed

Click on the link below:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Solar-powered hearing aids improve life in developing nations

The SolarAid really isn't much different than your average hearing aid in function -- it enables hearing-impaired individuals to get a better listen at the world around them. The difference, however, comes from its source of energy. Through a series of tragic and fortunate events, Howard Weinstein wound up in Africa with a goal in mind: to concoct a hearing aid that even the poorest of citizens could afford. Through a series of grants and help from hordes of deaf individuals that had no qualms holding a soldering iron, some 20,000 folks in 30 countries are currently using the solar-powered devices. Best of all, the mastermind isn't slowing down, as he's looking to expand the nonprofit into the Middle East, China and India in the not-too-distant future.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Apple to Make iTunes 8 and iPod Completely Accessible to the Blind [Apple]

Apple has committed to work with the state of Massachusetts to use its VoiceOver technology from Mac OS X to make its iTunes and iPod ecosystem fully usable for the blind. Before the agreement, Apple had already been making strides: VoiceOver and Braille support for OS X and closed captioning for iPod and Apple TV have already been implemented to a degree. But Apple's taking it even further.

The 4G iPod nano features an optional spoken interface to help with audio navigation, and the new hardware includes blind-friendly features like the “shake to shuffle” function (we were wondering who that was for!). Apple's new mic-integrated headphones provide tactile controls on the cable, and can also be used to receive vocal commands. But most importantly, Apple has promised in this agreement to flesh out its compatibility and make iTunes 8 and iTunes U 100% accessible for the blind by the end of the year, as well as donating $250,000 to the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind. As much as I rail against Apple, this is a really worthwhile cause and makes me feel pretty warm and fuzzy towards the White Overlords. [AppleInsider]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Knetwit: Share and earn

Knetwit is a new, exciting social networking and knowledge collaboration site that is available to students and teachers at colleges around the world. Knetwit creates an online academic environment where the college community can share notes, ideas, issues, and content from their educational journey. Knetwit enables the community to share its resources and be more successful in their studying. Students can share notes and gain other perspectives on their classes; teachers can post supplemental study materials.

Knetwit also allows users to profit from their posted content. Any users uploaded content earns the user Koin every time it is viewed or downloaded. Koin can be redeemed for cash via PayPal. All you need to begin is a note you would like to upload and be signed in to Knetwit.

Knetwit is free to use; free to upload, free to search and free to download.

Click on the link below:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Zamzar - Free online file conversion

Have you ever wanted to convert files without the need
to download software, well now you can! Just select the file you want to convert and Zamzar converts online and emails you the converted file.

Here is a list of what it can convert Conversion Types

Click on the link below:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Absolutely free Super simple video calling. There are two versions: TokBox desktop software and TokBox Firefox Add-on for Facebook. Tokbox is a free service that lets you talk with your friends over live video.

What is TokBox:

Mac OS X Accessibility For Beginners

You can start to educate yourself about these free accessibility functions by reading the Mac OS X Accessibility for Beginners series.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Speech-to-Text: Dictation software for OS X

This article is a significantly updated version of the article “Speech-to-Text: Dictation software for OS X“, originally published in November 2007.

Speech-to-text software, sometimes known as dictation software, is something that lets you talk to the computer in some form and have the computer react appropriately to what you are saying. This is totally different to text-to-speech software that can read out text already in the computer, although the two are often confused.

There are two types of speech-to-text software available. One type is called “command and control” and it lets you speak commands to your computer to control it - for example a command that it understands might be, “go to the Apple website” or, “tell me the time”, but you can only speak things the computer is already set up to understand; you can’t use this software to write an email or use iChat.

Command and control software for the Mac - known as “Speakable Items” (or sometimes, confusingly, “spoken commands”) - is already built into every OS X computer, although most people don’t know about it. So you don’t need to download, buy, or install anything to get this software to work. You would probably need a good USB microphone though, and if you don’t have American-accented English then the computer probably won’t understand you very well. Some resources for getting you up and running with Speakable Items include:

The other type of speech-to-text software is usually called “dictation” software. This is the type that lets you write an article like this one, type stuff to your friends in iChat, or type an email. There used to be a version of IBM’s ViaVoice for OS X but it hasn’t been updated for several years and is no longer available. There is only one dictation-capable speech-to-text software available for OS X which is being updated and developed and it’s MacSpeech Dictate. Dictate is the successor to a program named iListen which MacSpeech used to produce.

MacSpeech Dictate iconLike all dictation-capable text-to-speech products, MacSpeech Dictate works very well for some people and very badly for others. Whether it will work for you depends on many things including: how much effort you’re willing to put into learning it, how good your microphone is, your age (text to speech usually works less well for children), how much your accent matches what the program expects, and whether your voice changes a lot through the day. MacSpeech Dictate is also very new software - it was only released on the 15th of February, 2008 - and like most new software it’s missing some major features. Ones which will be of significance to users with a disability include:

  • No way to control the mouse by voice
  • Can’t be taught new words, such as names or jargon specific to your profession
  • Correction it doesn’t yet learn from being corrected

MacSpeech have announced that correction and spelling features are currently in private beta testing and will be released in a free upgrade as version 1.2 as soon as possible.

I tried using the old iListen a few years ago and could not get results that were useful, an on-screen keyboard was the best solution at the time. Although MacSpeech Dictate is in its infancy as a program, its recognition of my particular voice is hugely better than iListen’s was. This is not surprising though, as MacSpeech Dictate’s speech recognition engine is based on the same engine used by Windows’ Dragon NaturallySpeaking - widely recognised as the best consumer speech recognition available.

MacSpeech Dictate requires the Tiger or Leopard operating system and a compter with an Intel chipset. It’s currently available for English dialects only - US English, US Teen English, UK English, Australian English, Indian English (as in India, not Native American), South-East Asian English.

- Ricky Buchanan

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just released today! The iRex Digital Reader 1000 series

Thanks to the electronic paper display, reading iRex Digital Reader's screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen.

The 10.2 inch display is ideal for reading almost any digital document, even A4 or letter-sized documents look great on the iRex Digital Reader.

Click on the link below:

iRex Digital Reader

Friday, September 19, 2008

Searchme Visual Search

Searchme lets you see what you’re searching for. As you start typing, categories appear that relate to your query. Choose a category, and you’ll see pictures of web pages that answer your search. You can review these pages quickly to find just the information you’re looking for, before you click through.

Click on the link below:

The following external link(s) are provided for supplemental information only and unfortunately are not captioned for the hearing impaired.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jott makes sure you stay on top of everything. With a simple phone call to 866-JOTT-123, you can capture notes, set reminders and calendar appointments, stay in touch with friends and family, and interact with your favorite web sites and services...all with your voice!

Click on the link below:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Opera Web Browser Accessibility Features

Accessibility in Opera

At Opera we strive to offer a better Internet experience for all, regardless of device, platform, or visual or mobile impairment. As a result, the Opera browser is the most accessible browser on the market today. Please go to the separate documents below to learn how you can adapt Opera to your needs.

Visual impairments

Low vision

  • Zoom and full-screen mode
  • Change link and text colors, text size, and button size
  • Disable animations, video, and audio applications
  • Implement your own style sheet


  • Sound alerts
  • Screen reader compability

Visual impairments

Mobility impairments

  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Mouse gestures
  • Auto-completion

Mobile impairments

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Icon for PDFpenPDFpen is a PDF editing and form-filling application for Mac OS X. PDFs are important to many people with disabilities because scanned documents are usually converted to PDF format. So for those who can’t handle physical paper, being able to edit or add to a PDF file is important. PDF files are also used frequently for online documents, especially those of a more “official” nature such as bills and bank statements.

PDFpen lets you replace text in original PDF files with editable text blocks. You can move, resize, copy and delete images, overlay text and images onto PDF files, insert and remove pages, reorder them using drag and drop, copy and paste rich text content, select and copy text across multiple columns and more.

Some of these things - copying and deleting sections from a page, and inserting/removing and reordering pages - can now be done by the Preview program in Leopard. The version of Preview included with Tiger did not allow for inserting/removing or reordering pages in a PDF.

There are a helpful screencast tutorials for PDFpen available too. I suggest anybody considering this program watches these to get a clearer idea of what it can do.

Website: PDFpen

- Ricky Buchanan

Friday, September 12, 2008

Plastic Logic Reader

Differentiated by a stunning form factor (the size of 8.5 x 11-inch paper), the Plastic Logic reader features a big readable display. Yet it's thinner than a pad of paper, lighter than many business periodicals, and offers a high-quality reading experience - better than alternatives of paper or other electronic readers on the market today.

The Plastic Logic reader supports a full range of business document formats, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint, and Adobe PDFs, as well as newspapers, periodicals and books. It has an easy gesture-based user interface and powerful software tools that will help business users to organize and manage their information. Users can connect to their information either wired or wirelessly and store thousands of documents on the device. The reader incorporates E Ink technology for great readability and features low power consumption and long battery life. The Plastic Logic reader is scheduled to ship in the first half of 2009.

Click on the link below:

Plastic Logic Reader

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Apples Universal Access Features

Apple has built many accessibility solutions directly into its products as standard features. VoiceOver, screen reading technology that’s part of Mac OS X, provides voice description and offers plug-and-play support for Braille displays. For those who find it difficult to use a mouse, Spotlight search technology makes it easy to launch applications and find files, images, calendar events, or Wikipedia entries using a keyboard. And iPod, iPhone, Apple TV, and other products support closed captioning.

Click on the link below:

Universal Access

Acccessing Microsoft Accessibility Features

This is a great page to find out how you can access the great accessibility features that are built-in the Windows operating system.

Click on the link below:

Windows Accessibility Features

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 is your personal information management destination where you are in control of the information you need.

In today’s hectic world we are all inundated with more information than we can possibly manage. We often have a difficult time sorting out what is relevant, important, or urgent to us. At we believe today’s exciting technologies can be leveraged to be of assistance to you. These technologies can give you the ability to receive just the information you need when you need it. Delivered in the form of alerts, notifications, and/or reminders via email, text message, instant messaging, or even voice, we empower you to better manage your life.

Click on the link below:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Remember The Milk

Manage tasks quickly and easily.

An intuitive interface makes managing tasks fun. Set due dates easily with next Friday or in 2 weeks. Extensive keyboard shortcuts make task management quicker than ever.

Click on the link below:

Remember The Milk

Friday, September 5, 2008

Docstoc Sync

The Easiest Way to Put Your Documents Online

Docstoc Sync is a simple downloadable application that automatically syncs documents from your computer to Docstoc MyDocs. Effortlessly upload your documents and keep them private for easy access anytime, anywhere. Or publish any document or folder of documents publicly on Docstoc by putting it in your "Docstoc Public Documents" folder from your desktop.
  • Automatically sync your computers My Documents folder with Docstoc MyDocs
  • Easiest way to publish with drag and drop desktop folder
  • Fastest way to publish documents online
  • Access your documents anytime, anywhere
  • Mirror any folder on your hard drive to MyDocs
  • Works for both PC and Mac
  • Wednesday, September 3, 2008


    Why You Should Be Using Evernote

    A universal capture application is only as good as its ability to catch information no matter where you are and what you're doing. With support for accessing and adding notes from your cellphone, through any web browser, or through the desktop version, the most popular note-taking application Evernote is perhaps the closest option to a true universal capture tool available next to plain old pen and paper.


    StudyRails helps students overcome procrastination, control online distractions (e.g.: YouTube, Facebook, Instant Messaging), and stay on track with homework assignments. StudyRails creates a step-by-step, personalized study plan, sends email and cell phone reminders when it’s time to study, and blocks distracting websites, software and games during study time to keep students focused on their schoolwork.

    Click on the link below:


    Friday, August 22, 2008

    Google Online Applications and Resources


    These links will help you save time searching the internet for information, save money by not having to purchase an office suite, easily share information with your peers and help you keep organized.