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Software Programs Open Technological World to the Visually Impaired

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RALEIGH — Those working with blind and visually impaired people are looking closely at software programs that will help improve their lives.

Dolphin Computer Accesspublishes a program calledSupernova. A voice reader scrolls alongside a Braille reader allowing the user to read any Windows-driven program.

"Technology like this is becoming more and more crucial to maximizing one's independence and maximizing one's employment opportunities," says John Deluca, Director of theNorth Carolina Division of Services for the Blind.

Tools like Supernova allow employers to more easily hire visually impaired people.

"They don't need to provide anything special," says Jane Churchward of Dolphin Computer Access. "They can employ a blind person alongside a sighted person and just use these simple software tools to make what they already have accessible."

Keystrokes rather than a mouse are used to control the computer.

"What we can do is turn the speech off with a single key press, and that effectively just gives us a magnification," Churchward says.

The software costs from $200 to $800. The Braille reader is an expensive accessory; however the tools offer the opportunity to open the world to the blind.

"It's most helpful if a young person can start off in that computer vein as opposed to becoming an oldster before they get that chance," Deluca says.

Supernova is one of several types of software programs for the visually impaired. Combining the functions of magnification, speech and Braille sets it apart from other programs.


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