Friday, July 27, 2012

New Website Launches for People with Vision Disabilities


At Discovery World on Thursday, a consortium of Milwaukee-based organizations announced a new web portal for people with vision disabilities, and unveiled an accompanying weekend-long art exhibit.

The new site, Connections in Sight, offers resources and information on eye research for people with vision disabilities and their families.

The consortium hopes the new site will help people with vision disabilities maintain quality of life and find employment opportunities. Braille and recorded library materials, vision rehabilitation, communications training, orientation and mobility training, adaptive computer training, and support groups are available through the website. It is estimated that 60,000 residents of southeastern Wisconsin need vision support services.

The “Through the Lens of Others” art exhibit showcases the work of nine artists with vision disabilities, and opens at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Eye Institute, 925 N. 87th St.

“Our art exhibition debunks the myth that people who are blind or low vision can’t see or lead productive lives. Most people with vision disabilities can in fact perceive some level of light and form,” said exhibit organizer Dena Fellows, director of marketing at Vision Forward Association. “People who are blind or low vision are able to produce not only intelligible art, but art that truly is inspired.”

The consortium includes Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement (ABLE), Vision Forward Association, Beyond Vision, Center for Deaf-Blind Persons Inc., the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, and the Milwaukee County Office for Persons with Disabilities.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

CHRC Report Shows Significant Gaps in Equality of Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities in Canada


Canadians have a better picture of how disability affects equality of opportunity, thanks to a new benchmarking study released by the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) on July 9.

The Report on Equality Rights of People with Disabilities compares Canadians with disabilities to those without disabilities across a spectrum of indicators, such as education, employment, economic well-being, health, and housing. The report consolidates data from seven Statistics Canada surveys.

“This is the first comprehensive examination of how disability affects equality of opportunity in daily life,” Acting Chief Commissioner David Langtry said. “It provides a benchmark that will enable Canadians to track progress and identify barriers that deny people with disabilities the full opportunity to make for themselves the lives they wish to have.”

The report released today provides insight for academics, NGOs, community groups and all levels of government involved in developing policies and programs aimed at improving life for Canadians with disabilities. It provides a baseline for future studies that the Commission intends to undertake to measure change.
The report shows a different reality for persons with disabilities in areas such as education, employment and economic well-being.

When compared to other adults, adults with disabilities:
  • are half as likely to complete a university degree,
  • are more likely to settle for part-time instead of full time employment, and
  • have lower annual incomes.
Source: CHRC, GAATES

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BlackBerry Screenreader App Updated


A few months ago, Research In Motion (RIM) released a free accessibility app called the BlackBerry Screen Reader. The app makes BlackBerrys more accessible to users with vision disabilities. The app also now supports two new BlackBerry smartphone models in the latest update. In addition to the BlackBerry Curve 9350, 9360 and 9370 smartphone models, the application is now available for the new BlackBerry Curve 9320 and 9220 smartphones.

Screen Reader logoRIM updates the Screen Reader app in the latest release:
Basic Browser Support

BlackBerry Screen Reader is now revised adding the ability to have a loaded webpage read to you.

Help Menu
Through BlackBerry Screen Reader settings, you can now access an English help menu to provide you with additional assistance.

Additional Shortcut Features
Previously, the application shortcut (Right Convenience Key + Send) only supported email messaging. The updated shortcut is now designed to allow you to re-read a loaded webpage without refreshing your browser; it also allows you to easily read SMS and BBM messages, from the most recent to least recent message.

Additional Caller ID Screen Support
The first version of the BlackBerry Screen Reader would only read the number that was calling. The functionality has now been extended to the caller ID screen to also identify the contact’s name (if available).

Unified Inbox improvements
The unified inbox feature has been updated and now identifies Facebook® and Twitter® messages. You can now differentiate between your e-mail and social media messages.

BlackBerry Screen Reader Demo
If you’ve been wondering what the application is all about before giving it a try yourself, check out the video below, which includes a walkthrough and some tips to help get you started:
Watch the demo video of the app below:


The latest version of BlackBerry Screen Reader at: www.blackberry.com/screenreader

For more information, visit www.blackberry.com/accessibility

Source: GAATES

Monday, July 23, 2012

FCC's "Developing with Accessibility" Event - September 6-7


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Accessibility and Innovation Initiative (A&I) has planned an event called “Developing with Accessibility,” at the FCC’s headquarters on September 6 and 7, 2012.  The event is designed to spur increased collaboration on accessibility solutions among developers from industry, consumer, and government sectors.  The event will encourage the use of accessibility APIs (application programming interfaces), as well as publicly available data sets, in order to build accessible apps for mobile phones and websites.  A key objective is to promote the concept and practice of developing applications with regard for generally-accepted accessibility guidelines, thereby maximizing their usability for everyone, including persons with disabilities.

The event will offer training on development topics, in-person collaboration on programming projects, and professional networking among developers.  As important as the actual event itself will be collaborative activity in electronic spaces before, during, and after the event.  Rather than limit this to accomplishments that can be achieved during a single, in-person event, this Developer event is not intended to be an end in itself, but will instead serve as an organizing opportunity to create mechanisms for ongoing collaboration among developers who are interested in building accessible technology solutions.

It is also a goal of the A&I to make smart use of new media tools to create electronic spaces for such collaboration.  We encourage others to also activate online collaboration spaces associated with this effort.  To this end, we suggest use of a particular abbreviation, “DevAcc,” as an electronic tag that facilitates searching and coordination toward these objectives.

Please pre-register for the event by sending your name, affiliation, and contact information to devacc@fcc.gov by August 31, 2012. Also send disability accommodation requests to FCC504@fcc.gov.

If there are particular ways that you’d like to participate, or related activities that you’d like to inform us about, also feel free to write to devacc@fcc.gov.

The meeting site is fully accessible to people using wheelchairs or other mobility aids. Open captioning and assistive listening devices will be provided on site. Other reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities are available upon request. Include a description of the accommodation you will need and tell us how to contact you if we need more information. Make your request as early as possible. Last minute requests will be accepted, but may be impossible to fill. Send an e-mail to: fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

The general session of the event will be webcast with open captioning at http://fcc.gov/live

IMPORTANT ACCESSIBILTY LINKS:

Accessibility and Innovation Initiative: http://www.broadband.gov/accessibilityandinnovation
Implementation of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act: http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/cvaa.html
For more information, visit http://fcc.gov/disability

Source: GAATES

New Program for the Blind Receives Prestigious Certification


Hawaii’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and Services for the Blind Division has received national recognition for a unique training program called “New Visions,” which is offered to people who are blind and low vision.

In June 2012, the National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB) recertified Hawaii’s New Visions program as a Structured Discovery Cane Travel (SDCT) program.

Hawaii is one of only three state agencies to hold this prestigious certification. The others are Nebraska and New Mexico. There are three private certified centers in Louisiana, Colorado, and Minnesota.

”This is a rigorous certification process. I am pleased to say we passed with flying colors!” said Lea Grupen, Administrator of the Hoopono Branch, which oversees Hawaii’s New Visions Program. “Evaluators were complimentary of Hawaii’s center, staff and students, and to quote from their report,” she said, “It is training centers like yours that lend essential credibility to the Structured Discovery Process.”

Launched in November 2002, New Visions offers a curriculum of effective blindness skills, methods and techniques that lead to increased self-confidence, empowerment and competitive employment.

The curriculum includes classes in Braille (alternative communication), computer and assistive technology, orientation and mobility, personal and home management, and woodworking.

New Visions serves clients with a range of visual disabilities ranging from no light perception, to reading only large print at a comfortable distance.

The New Visions program requires students to commit to full-time participation in classes that run between 6 and 9 months in duration. Students may request additional skill-building time if it is necessary.

New Visions classes are held on site at Hoopono so consumers can share experiences and engage in peer mentoring and support. Hoopono also leases several nearby apartments for neighbor islander and Pacific Islander students and Oahu students who wish to practice their New Visions program skills in a home setting.
The goal of Hoopono’s Services is to enable people who are blind and low vision, age 14 and older, to attain maximum vocational and functional independence. Consumers work with a team of skilled professionals who provide varied services to meet the participant’s individual needs.

Training can take place in individual homes and communities, or in the New Visions’ Liliha centre.

The State’s Vocational Rehabilitation Division, Hoopono Branch, provides comprehensive services and specialized services to Oahu and neighbor island consumers to meet the varied needs of people who are blind, deafblind or low vision, regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion or disability.

There is no fee for services.

For more information on the program, call 808-586-5269 or visit www.hawaiivr.org/hoopono

Source: GAATES

TIGAR Project Accelerates Book Accessibility for People with Print Disabilities


Launched in November 2010, the Trusted Intermediary Global Accessible Resources (TIGAR) Project continues to accelerate. The aim of the TIGAR project is to increase the number of accessible books available worldwide; specifically, to provide access to copyright-protected works in accessible formats for people with print disabilities across borders. Participants include WIPO, publishers and collective management organizations, and organizations that provide specialized library services for people with print disabilities.

Participation of accessibility organizations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Jamaica, Norway, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.We are also in conversation with countries in Africa and Asia to extend our participation further into developing countries.
TIGAR’s key achievements to date include:

Participation of more than 30 leading publishers and collective rights management organizations.
Books in an array of languages are available through the TIGAR network. The first international exchange of accessible books took place in October 2011 between organizations in Canada, Denmark, and France. Since that time more than 500 have been selected by participating organizations from the thousands available and shared for cross border exchange.

“The real impact of the TIGAR Project is the impact it makes in the lives of people with print disabilities”, said François Hendrikz of the South African Library for the Blind. “For example, one of the titles we selected was a book by Erik Orsenna, a French novelist and member of the Académie Française. The book, “L’Entreprise des Indes” is highly recommended as a ‘coup de coeur’ and thanks to the TIGAR project it was available to readers with print disabilities in Canada at the same time as it was available to sighted readers.”

For further information, visit http://www.tigarnetwork.org

Source: GAATES

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

HumanWare Unveils Communication App for Deafblind People


HumanWare, in partnership with Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille (INLB), has unveiled the HumanWare Communicator, the first multilingual face-to-face conversation app for people who are deafblind. This unique app will help people who are deafblind communicate on an everyday basis by connecting a HumanWare Braille device (BrailleNote Apex or Brailliant) with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.

New HumanWare iPhone app will get deafblind and sighted people talking. Photo: HumanWare
New HumanWare iPhone app will get deafblind and sighted people talking. Photo: HumanWare
HumanWare is the leader in digital communication for people who are deafblind, introducing DBC, the first portable face-to-face chat solution in 2008. The system combined the simplicity and portability of the popular BrailleNote with a companion visual interface running on a cell phone. For the first time, a deafblind person had portability and independence when having a face-to-face conversation, and since a familiar cell phone keyboard was used, the sighted individual had a very small learning curve to engage in a conversation.

“With the popularity and inclusion of assistive technology features in Apple’s iOS devices, HumanWare has received a high demand to bring the face-to-face concept of the popular Deaf-Blind Communicator to the popular Apple devices. “The HumanWare Communicator app breaks everyday face to face communication down to its simplest form and will get everyone talking,” says Greg Stilson, HumanWare product manager.

In 2000, HumanWare introduced the first BrailleNote. In 2005, the BrailleNote mPower was launched bringing USB connectivity and increased speed and efficiency to this range of productivity tools. Launched in December of 2009, the BrailleNote Apex, with a completely redesigned look, while maintaining the successful ergonomic design of past BrailleNotes, saw HumanWare pack the most powerful BrailleNote into the thinnest package available.

The HumanWare Communicator app will be available for standard download from Apple’s app store at the end of July 2012. This app marks a major step forward in using mainstream technology to bring everyday communication to the deaf-blind population.
For more information, visit www.humanware.com

Source: HumanWare, GAATES

Transport App Cab:App to Assist Wheelchair Users During London 2012 Paralympic Games


WheelPower, the National Disability Sports Charity and Smart Phone application, cab:app have joined forces to improve access for persons with disabilities using public transport in London during the Paralympic Games.

cabapp logo
The partnership will add a Wheelchair Assistance button to its taxi app, encouraging wheelchair users and persons with disabilities to take advantage of the large amount of space and availability of access ramps in black cabs this summer.

To celebrate the partnership, a competition to design a wheelchair and disabled assistance button for the app has been launched. The design must be an iconic and eye-catching so that it is easily recognisable to both passengers and drivers.

The winner of the competition will win a paid trip from anywhere in UK to London for two people which includes a two night stay in the Belgraves-Thompson hotel, a dinner for two at HIX restaurant, a London Eye champagne experience for two and a night time guided tour of London given by the creator of cab:app.

cab:app will donate £1 from every cab:app journey taken during the Paralympic Games to WheelPower.
“We are delighted that cab:app is supporting WheelPower’s work to transform the lives of persons with disabilities. “By providing persons with disabilities a simple, fast and easy to use mobile phone app to hail black cabs, cab:app is transforming access to transport for many persons with disabilities.” Paul Rushton, Head of Fundrasing at WheelPower said,

After the 2012 Paralympics, cab:app and WheelPower want to promote black cab travel to passengers with disabilities as a long term initiative.

For more information, visit www.cabapp.net or www.wheelpower.org.uk

Source; GAATES

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Obama Signs Landmark Accessible Prescription Drug Label Bill


On July 9, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, which brings us a step closer to ensuring Americans with vision disabilities have access to the important information on their prescription labels. The Act includes provisions that establish national best practices for retail and other pharmacies to use in providing accessible prescription drug labeling to customers with vision disabilities. This includes proper dosage, the name of the medication, accompanying information about possible side effects, and more.

“We applaud President Obama and Congress for taking this important step,” said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). “AFB has been working on this issue for many years and we’re thrilled that this is now a reality.”

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has long championed safe and effective ways to address the significant public health challenge of inaccessible prescription drug labeling. Past studies have shown the dangers posed by the inability to access necessary instructions that accompany prescription and over-the-counter medications, including illness, emergency room visits and the reliance upon sighted companions—or even strangers.

“The significance of this measure cannot be understated,” said Mark Richert, Director of Public Policy at the American Foundation for the Blind. “For the more than 20 million Americans living with vision loss, being unable to read drug container labels and package inserts is a scary reality.”

The provisions in the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act will serve as a valuable supplement to existing requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws imposing obligations on pharmacies to ensure effective communication and barrier removal for people with disabilities. Whether this new legislation entails that medication instructions and inserts be available in large print, braille, or via an assistive technology device remains to be seen.

Source: AFB, GAATES

Kurzweil Educational Systems Releases Firefly App for iPad


Kurzweil Educational Systems®, a division of Cambium Learning Technologies, announced on July 9 the release of the Kurzweil 3000® – firefly app for the iPad.

The Kurzweil 3000 - firefly iPad app provides mobile access to digital content and powerful literacy tools to enable individuals with the cognitive ability, but not the literacy skills, to achieve their academic and personal goals.

Kurzweil 3000 is a text-to-speech based technology solution that enables struggling readers to learn at grade level. Research has shown the program to be particularly appropriate for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia, those who require reading intervention, students struggling with reading comprehension, and English Language Learners (ELL).

“We are delighted to be releasing our first mobile app,” said Alex Saltonstall, general manager, Kurzweil Educational Systems and IntelliTools. “Individuals rely on Kurzweil 3000 every day to enable them to succeed at their level of academic interest.  Increasingly our customers have access to iPads, and the firefly iPad app will now give them even more access to the content they are reading and the literacy support tools they rely upon.  Whether downloaded to a school or personal iPad, we believe our free app will extend learning on this engaging and mobile platform.”

iPad app benefits for students and teachers:
  • Mobile access to instructional materials
  • Free to Kurzweil 3000 customers, the iPad app is simple to install and use
  • Modern and engaging user interface
  • Accessible to many students with physical disabilities
The firefly iPad app is free and can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store by searching the education category using “firefly Kurzweil”.

To learn more go to www.kurzweiledu.com/fireflyapp.
For more information, visit www.cambiumtech.comwww.cambiumlearning.com.
Source: Kurzweil Educational Systems; Cambium Learning Technologies, GAATES

New Device for Helping the Blind Learn Braille


Product Development Technologies (PDT), a leading product development firm, has worked with Perkins Products to equip the world’s most widely used braille writer with first-of-its-kind multi-sensory technology designed to make learning and teaching braille easier. Literacy through braille is critical to enabling people who are blind to find employment and achieve financial independence.

The new Perkins SMART Brailler® will start shipping to U.S. consumers in September and is expected to have a significant impact. It was developed in conjunction with the American Printing House for the Blind. Approximately 11.4 million Americans are blind or low vision, according to the World Health Organization, and one person goes blind every 11 minutes. Those numbers are expected to jump as the baby boomer generation ages, overall life expectancy increases, and medical advances make it possible for more babies to survive premature birth.


“We know that reading braille can be the difference between employment and unemployment for people who are blind. But there aren’t enough ways for people to learn braille,” said John Freese, PDT Program Manager. “What PDT did was bring new technology together with an established Brailler to make it easy to learn braille, with the goal of empowering people who are blind to lead full and fulfilling lives.”

Studies show that about 70 percent of people who are blind are unemployed or underemployed. Yet 80 percent of those who use braille are employed. Despite this, braille use has declined, in part due to a shift from specialized schools for people who are blind to mainstream schools where there are too few qualified teachers.

Current high-tech braille products only work if users already know braille. The new Perkins SMART Brailler® gets even new users connected instantly to braille. PDT worked with teachers, parents and consumers who are blind throughout the roughly two-year development process. The SMART Brailler® features instantaneous audio and visual feedback and Acapela text-to-speech (in English, and a range of other languages), plus downloadable lessons for braille beginners, and electronic document saving, editing and transfer capability via USB. Because it is built around a Perkins Next Generation Brailler®, the new device also generates hard copy braille as the user types.

The impact will be felt worldwide. John Godber, Head of Products and Publications for the UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), says, “This is the biggest step forward for learning braille since the invention of the Perkins Brailler” in 1951.

With this new assistive technology, sighted teachers, classmates and parents can also work alongside students, providing a new level of learning support and making the inclusion of students who are blind into mainstream classrooms far more possible than ever before. Perkins Products Vice President & General Manager David Morgan says, “We are convinced that this truly levels the playing field and de-mystifies the braille ‘code’ to allow a shared learning experience for all – student, parent, teacher, friend. Adults who are losing their sight get a big screen and large text to learn braille independently.”

In 2008, PDT worked with Perkins Products to develop a lighter, more efficient and durable Next Generation Perkins Brailler that is now actively used in classrooms and homes around the world. Because the Perkins Brailler is used globally already, adaptation to the SMART version will be seamless. Special training is not required. Learn more at http://www.perkins.org/smartbrailler/.

For more information, visit www.Perkins.orgwww.pdt.com

Source: PDT, GAATES

Friday, July 13, 2012

Smartphone for Visually-Impaired Released in Europe


Georgie, a smartphone app designed for people who are blind and low vision has been launched. The app can be installed and run on an Android device.

Georgie, a smartphone designed for people who are blind.
Georgie, a smartphone designed for people who are blind.
Georgie was developed by a blind husband and wife team, Roger and Margaret Wilson-Hinds, who are based in the UK.

The name Georgie was kept after Mrs Wilson-Hinds first guide dog. The couple run a not-for-profit social enterprise Screenreader.


The smartphone has a voice-assisted touchscreen and a special variety of apps designed to assist people who are blind or low vision to complete tasks such as finding a location, reading text, and travel timetables.

A variety of additional apps are also available for purchase in three packages; Travel, Lifestyle or Communicate.  These bundles are available for £24.99 each and include a range of additional features.


Georgie can be easily installed in an Android device like Saumsung handsets like Galaxy Ace 2.


“I was able to send my very first text just earlier this year thanks to Georgie,” said Screenreader co-founder Roger Wilson-Hinds. “It’s exactly that type of digital experience we want to make easily available to people with little or no sight. More than that though, it’s also going to help solve every day problems for people who are blind or low vision so they can be more confident about navigating the real world and become more independent.” he said.



The smartphone will be sold by a not-for-profit company called Screenreader  and is distributed by a company called Sight and Sound Technology, a company which provides hardware and software to people who are blind or low vision. The device will retail for around $460.


Source: GAATES

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Android Accessibility Apps

SNOW has put together a list of accessibility apps for Android devices. The list can be found here.

Source: SNOW

iPhone Apps for Disability and Visual Impairment

Disabled World has put together a list of iPhone apps for disability and visual impairment. It can be found here.

Innovative EnableTalk Smartphone App Wins Microsoft's Imagine Cup


Microsoft announced that Ukraine’s team quadSquad won this year 10th Microsoft Imagine Cup student technology competition with their innovative EnableTalk smartphone application, sensory gloves that can translate sign language gestures into speech.

Team quadSquad from Ukraine celebrated its first-place win in the Software Design category at the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals in Sydney, Australia. (Photo credit: Microsoft)
Team quadSquad from Ukraine celebrated its first-place win in the Software Design category at the Imagine Cup 2012 Worldwide Finals in Sydney, Australia. (Photo credit: Microsoft)
This year’s Imagine Cup’s theme was “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problems” and most teams focused on healthcare and the environment.

This year, more than 350 students from 75 countries traveled to Sydney after competing in local and online events, representing the best and brightest selected to compete in the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals where Microsoft handed out approximately $175,000 in cash to the winners across eight different categories.

The Imagine Cup finals were carried out over 5 days and featured intense presentations from teams across the world. While the Ukraine team took the top prize, the truth is that everyone who participated in the competition all year long are winners as they are changing the world for the better.'



Next year’s event will take place in St. Petersburg, Russia

Monday, July 9, 2012

Windows vs. Mac Built-In Magnifier

The Royal National Institute for the blind in the UK has published an excellent post comparing the built-in screen magnification of Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac platforms. You can find the article here.


Source: RNIB

Friday, July 6, 2012

Google Launches Google+ Hangout Accessibility App


Google is working on making Google+ more accessible for users with hearing disabilities.
 The app called Hangout Captions to help integrate live transcription into Google+ Hangouts.
Hangout Captions app


Google announced that it is launching a new app that makes Google+ Hangouts more accessible for people with hearing disabilities.

Hangout Captions app provides a transcript of a Hangout that can be read by people who are deaf or hard of hearing, allowing them to participate in the conversation as well.

By adding the +Hangout Captions app allows two options of transcription. The first is professional transcription through StreamText, and the second is basic transcription which you do yourself by typing on the keyboard.



To find out more about the new +Hangout Captions app, visit https://hangout-captions.appspot.com

Source: http://www.flobalaccessibilitynews.com/

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Dalhousie University to Offer New Scholarship for Students with Disabilities


In an effort to make law school more inclusive, a new scholarship for students with disabilities has been established at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law.

The scholarship was made possible by ReachAbility, a local not-for-profit organization that aims to create more inclusive communities. The scholarship will be awarded to a different incoming first-year student each year, starting this fall. Students must demonstrate academic excellence, financial need, and self-identify as having a disability, which can be physical, mental, cognitive, or sensory.

ReachAbility offered to donate $10,000 annually for the next four years. The law school will add another $5,000 in the first year and plans to fundraise for the remaining years.

With tuition costing slightly less than $15,000 per year, Diane Chisholm, a development officer at the law school, says the scholarship will really make a difference in the chosen students’ lives.

“You want to have individuals have accessibility regardless of the barriers. We don’t want cost to be a barrier and for some students with disabilities cost is a challenge, and so if it’s targeted at those students then the playing field is a little bit more level,” she says.

“If someone has disabilities, one can imagine that they would have other challenges and law school is very competitive,” she adds.

Tova Sherman, founder of reachAbility and a disability awareness trainer, says not only will the scholarship benefit students and the law school, it will also benefit the legal community by raising awareness about disabilities and, in effect, removing the stigma that exists in society — specifically in the legal profession.

“The legal community gains because those lawyers are going to have experience working with someone with a disability and realizing all those preconceived notions . . . [are] not the whole story,” says Sherman.

“We need to educate the legal community and this is one of the ways,” she adds.

Sherman has conducted disability awareness training at law schools, law firms, and the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society through Independent Disability Education Associates.

“I’ve seen that there is a lack of awareness, just like anywhere else,” she says.

Sherman refers to a survey that reachAbility conducted of its legal referral service as an example of the stigma that still exists. Out of approximately 350 volunteer lawyers, only three identified as having a disability, and those were the ones with a physical disability.

“For persons with disabilities, I don’t think that anyone ever really thought about the importance of equalizing the playing field because they always perceive accommodation as ‘special,’” she says.

Sherman says it’s not about being “special,” it’s about people with disabilities having the same accessibility as others, and society starting to view it that way.

“We have attitudinal and architectural barriers. If we remove all the architectural barriers that does not mean we’re OK. But if we remove the attitudinal barriers, everything falls into place,” she says.
Chisholm says the scholarship also presents more opportunities for people with disabilities.

“By offering a scholarship, you’re offering the potential for individuals with disabilities who may not have considered [law school]. So it’s not only just the actual money, but it’s actually giving those with disabilities the idea that this is something [they] can aim for,” she says.

HIMS Launches the First High-Definition Handheld Video Magnifier


HIMS, a worldwide developer and manufacturer of assistive products for people with vision disabilities announces the introduction of the industry’s first high-definition 5.0” wide-screen LCD handheld video magnifier for people with low vision.

CANDY Reading a Magazine. (Photo credit: HIMS)
CANDY Reading a Magazine. (Photo credit: HIMS)
The device is available in two models, the CANDY P500 and the CANDY GRIP G500—which features a unique ergonomic 3-position handle for center-balance, right-handed or left-handed use. The large 5.0” wide-screen LCD display provides a 4x greater field of view than a similar magnification optical magnifier. The grip makes reading with video magnification easier than ever.

 “As the first high-definition device of its kind on the market, the HD image quality produces a 3x higher-resolution from the camera to the LCD,” said James McCarthy, President at HIMS, Inc.—who is himself legally blind. “Both models provide industry-leading features such as continuous zoom magnification,” he said. “This compares with other devices that provide only 3 or 4 preset magnification choices.”

The zoom magnification function ranges from 1.5x-22.5x and easily increases or decreases the size of the text, photo or object being viewed. A center-position camera with auto-focus makes reading easier to follow. In addition, large and conveniently located buttons are easy to find and press.

Each model has a built-in rechargeable lithium battery that will operate for 4.5 hours on a full charge. Weighing less than 10 ounces, it’s easily portable in a coat pocket or purse.

The products are available at www.hims-inc.com where the site provides an easy 3-step check-out making the purchase and shipping of HIMS products easier than ever. The site is also optimized for accessibility and is MSAA and W3 Compliant with screen reader software like JAWS for Windows, Window-Eyes, System Access NVDA, and Hal, and computer magnification software like ZoomText, iZoom, Magic, and SuperNova. The HIMS product line consists of 17 models of Braille and voice notetakers, Braille displays, desktop and portable video magnifiers, and DAISY players. “We greatly value our customers, and helping them to regain their independence and improve their lives is at the core of our business model,” said McCarthy. “We have designed these new products to do just that,” he said.

HIMS will be demonstrating the Candy P500 and the Candy Grip G500 devices at the National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) June 30-July 5, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. The annual convention will be held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel and at American Council of the Blind National Convention, July 7 –13 held at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY.For more information about the conferences please visit the NFB or ACB web site at www.nfb.org orwww.acb.org.

For more information, visit www.hims-inc.com