Assistive devices and technology

A sneak peek at future education

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Assistive technologies are developing rapidly and as they filter into classrooms, visually impaired students can look forward to a much more engaging time at school.


SANCB’s former Resource Centre Manager, Adam Ely says “the classroom of the future is an interactive, multi-sensory learning experience catering to individual needs”.


Addressing delegates at SABC Eduweek Conference in Midrand on 29 June 2016, Adam explained that classrooms would include cutting edge assistive technology and interactive teaching tools such as digital textbooks, white boards, innovative teaching software, internet connectivity, screen reading and magnification software.


Edit Micro, SANCB’s partner in the project, said classrooms such as these help motivate and inspire learners to achieve their full potential.
 

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Take special care when you see a white cane

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White Cane Safety Day
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The white cane has come a long way!

It’s no longer just a device that helps a blind person safely navigate their surroundings, but is a symbol of their independence and ability to come and go as they please. That’s why we always celebrate International White Cane Safety Day in October with a series of national and provincial walks.

Lafarge is our long-time partner in our national walk, which was held in Bloemfontein.

In the Western Cape, St Dunstan’s Association for South African War-Blinded Veterans hosted their Long Cane Rally in Green Point. The SANCB hosted its first rally in Mafikeng, sponsored by the North West Department of Health – whose staff went the extra mile by walking blindfolded.

Let’s hope that this growing event helps create greater awareness about the challenges of travelling alone with a white cane, and encourages motorists to take special care when they see people using a white cane.

To renew your support and make a donation now, click here

 

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Our Enterprise Shop

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How does a blind person tell the time or make notes? They use gadgets from our Enterprise Shop.

We produce and print Braille and stock a wide range of assistive devices and technology to assist visually impaired persons. This includes products like:

  • Mobility canes (white canes)
  • Braille and talking watches
  • Liquid Level Indicators
  • Computer screen readers
  • Braille displays
  • Screen magnification software
  • Toys for visually impaired children and much more!

For your convenience we have developed a brand new catalogue with the most popular products that we currently have in stock in our Resource Centre. Please click here for the PDF version or click here for the Word version. Please note that we do not always stock all items in the catalogue.

Please make an appointment to view the technology. Our knowledgeable staff will assess you and your challenges to suggest the best possible solutions for you. 

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Free Screen Reading Software

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Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Free Screen Reader for Microsoft Office 2010 Users


Pretoria January, 15 2014 - Microsoft and GW Micro's announcement yesterday of making the Window-Eyes screen reader available for download free of charge was welcomed by the SA National Council for the Blind.


GW Micro announced on 14 January 2014 that they have collaborated with Microsoft Corporation to enable blind and partially sighted users who  use licensed versions of Microsoft Office 2010 or later, to access their screen reading software for free.


Screen reading software is one kind of assistive technology that enables people with visual impairments or reading impairments to use computers. In South Africa the cost of mostly imported assistive technology often puts screen reading software — and the benefits it provides — out of the reach of the majority of visually impaired people. This is also a prohibiting factor for companies wanting to employ visually impaired persons.


Free screen reading software removes one of the barriers for blind or partially sighted people to obtain independence, education and employability.
"This is ground-breaking news!  Window-Eyes is a very popular screen-reader worldwide and I think that this might have a bearing on our future training programmes, especially as the inclusion of Window-Eyes with Microsoft Office will eliminate the need to purchase software by the training provider, the employer or the end user," says Assistive Technology Product Specialist at the SA National Council for the Blind, Albert Peters.


Users of Microsoft Office 2010 or later can download Window-Eyes at www.WindowEyesForOffice.com


For 85 years, the South African National Council for the Blind has been the leading NGO in service co-ordination for visually impaired persons across South Africa.
 

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The SAnote - Proudly South African

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SAnote is a talking computer for the Blind. It offers the blind community an alternative to other expensive products, many of which are imported and offer no local support. The device boasts multiple languages. It currently supports speech synthesis in English, Sepedi, Setswana and Afrikaans but can be customised to include speech synthesis in any other language. This ability to provide synthesised voices in the official languages of South Africa will broaden the impact SAnote will have on the South African blind population.

But what exactly is SAnote? And how does it work?

 

SAnote looks like a standard QWERTY keyboard. However, this computer provides the user with feedback through synthesised speech. Its user interface is an easy-to-use menu navigation system that allows you to browse the web, use the scientific calculator and post to Twitter – to name but a few of its applications. The system offers braille support for external braille displays through brltty. It even has enhanced audio functionality that enables audio recording and playback. The technology is composed of standard computer hardware configured to be portable, and that is battery driven with a standard keyboard. It has a GNU/Linux based operating system with a custom built Kernel containing the SpeakUp screen reader.

What makes SAnote unique?
 

Affordable

SAnote is more affordable than alternative solutions, many of which are imported at a high cost. With its low price tag SAnote has the potential to make immediate impact in the education and employment sectors.

Portable

The device consists of a slightly modified standard keyboard that runs off mains or rechargeable batteries. It allows the integration of all functions and subsystems into a single device, enabling improved portability and usability.

User-friendly

No additional configurations or installations are required as the device is user-ready right out of the box. SAnote’s user interface has an easy to use menu navigation system and a file browser that allows access to the file system and applications such as the audio editor, a value add that is not available on other systems.

Multilingual

Speech synthesis is available in English, Sepedi, Setswana and Afrikaans. You can switch between languages with one key stroke, and without leaving the programme currently running.

Made in South Africa

SAnote was developed in South Africa and is the first of its kind on the continent. Contrary to most devices SAnote offers local support to end-users.

With SAnote you can:

  • Listen to speech synthesis in English, Afrikaans, Sepedi and Setswana
  • Copy move, rename, delete and print files
  • Send and receive emails (smtp/pop3)
  • Play record and edit audio files in most popular audio formats
  • Browse the web
  • Access Twitter
  • Read Daisy books (Daisy 2.02 format)
  • Lookup words in the offline dictionary
  • Use the scientific calculator, unit conversion and word-processing utilities
  • Create customisable databases
  • Share files with other devices like your mobile phone
  • Copy audio or data CDs and DVDs.

Features of SAnote

System Information

  • Full PC104 ‘qwerty’ keyboard
  • Mains and battery power
  • Operated through a customised menu system
  • Network access through Ethernet or WiFi networks
  • Bluetooth

Speech, Audio and Text Input and Output

  • Speech synthesis in local languages (currently English, Afrikaans, Sepedi and Setswana)
  • Play audio files in most popular audio formats
  • Reading of Daisy books (Daisy 2.02 format)
  • Audio recording and speech-friendly editing (insertion and deletion of audio in .wav format)
  • Audio file conversion between various most prevalent audio formats
  • Braille support for external braille displays through brltty

Functions and Programs

  • Email (smtp/pop3)
  • Easy web browsing (i.e. Google and Wikipedia)
  • Twitter access
  • Play and record Internet audio streams
  • Dictionary lookups in an off-line dictionary
  • Scientific calculator
  • Change language of speech on-the-fly without leaving the currently running program
  • Unit conversion utility
  • Creation of customisable databases

File Management, Conversion and Processing

  • File management (copy, move, rename and delete)
  • View various document formats (for example .txt, .doc, .odt, .pdf and others)
  • Word processing
  • Optical character recognition from image file or scanner
  • Conversion of .pdf to .html or .txt
  • Print a number of file formats
  • Extraction of file archives (for example .zip, .bz2, .rar and .7z)
  • Share files with other devices through web interface (for example PCs, tablets and players)
  • Share files with Windows-based computers using the standard file sharing method
  • Access to external USB devices such as storage, CD drives, modems, scanners, printers, etc.
  • Listen to DVDs
  • Rip audio CDs
  • Copying of data or audio from and to CDs and DVDs
  • Capably record audio in varying environments and play it back later
     

Contact details for Distributors
 

SA National Council for the Blind
resource@sancb.org.za

www.sancb.org.za

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HumanWare turns 25!

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HumanWare’s launch of an exciting new product in South Africa on Tuesday 23 July coincided with the company’s 25th birthday.

After a quarter of a century assisting visually impaired people, their latest offering, the Prodigi, is truly the icing on the birthday cake. It offers the latest technology to assist people with low vision. Not only is the desktop based electronic magnifier lighter and economic in design, but it also features modern options for navigating through its astounding number of features, such as touch screen and touch pad technology. Best of all, there is also a hand-held portable Tablet component, for freedom, independence and convenience when you go shopping, to a restaurant, bookshop, or library.

This device is not only a magnifying device, but also offers audio trough OCR technology. Text does not get distorted when you enlarge it, but stays crisp and high quality, due to the innovation of Diamond Edge Text™.

For more information about this product, please click here, or e-mail resource@sancb.org.za to get a quotation and place an order.

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The HumanWare Prodigi

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Clever Smartphone for People with Low Vision

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The SmartVision is a smartphone designed by French digital company KAPSYS. The company has been designing and selling digital mobility and communication devices, specifically created for seniors and visually impaired people, since 2007.

According to the company’s website, the SmartVision is the first smartphone specifically designed for people with low vision. This device was launched earlier this year and is powered by Android technology.

The phone offers touchscreen, keypad, and voice interfaces to ensure a range of accessibility options to suit a diverse range of preferences, and simultaneously demonstrating the company’s appreciation for diversity with regards to the needs of people with visual impairments. The phone also offers vision enhancing options, including magnification, text and colour configuration, and enlarged user-interface print. It also offers object identification and navigation applications, and can even wirelessly connect to your HDMI compatible television.

To find out more about this truly amazing mobile device, please visit KAPSYS’s website by clicking here.

Source: www.kapsys.com
 

 

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Vodacom launches an easy-to-use mobile phone

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Vodacom recently launched an easy-to-use mobile phone designed for the elderly. To find out more about this phone, please click here.
 

To read the press release, click here.  

 

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Victor Reader Stratus4

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The simplest and friendliest audio book player

The Victor Reader Stratus, a simple, easy-to-use audio book player, comes in a new look enclosure that is smaller and lighter on the outside yet smarter and better sounding on the inside. The Stratus plays multimedia books and music from CDs, SD cards and USB flash drives.

Benefits
Accessibility
All Victor Reader Stratus models feature large, tactile, high-contrast keys, a built-in speaker and headphone jack, and self-voicing controls

Portability
You can take and operate your Victor Reader Stratus anywhere, using its rechargeable battery and integrated carrying handle.

Keypad Choice
Choose any of the Stratus4 models with its simple 4-arrow keypad to easily navigate novels, magazines and newspapers. Students and professionals may prefer the Stratus12 models with its telephone-style number pad for navigation to specific pages in highly structured publications such as reference and text books.

For those who like the most simple operation possible, attaching the optional keypad cover hides all but the most essential keys to simulate a traditional cassette player.

Navigation

  • Browse text and recorded DAISY books by chapter, section, subsection, phrase.
  • Navigate MP3 books and music, moving by folder, file, and specific time jumps.
  • Move through text files by sentence, paragraph, word, or even spell words.

Bookshelf
All content is organised via the popular Victor Reader bookshelf categories. The bookshelves contain DAISY books, commercial audio books, music files, and text files.

Never lose your place
For every title, your Stratus will automatically resume reading where you left off, regardless of how many books you are reading.

Bookmark

The bookmark key marks important points in any type of book, audio file, or computer document.

Go to page
Enter a page number using the Stratus12’s number pad and go directly to that page just like turning to a specific page in a printed book. Ideal for reference books, cook books or text books.

Features

  • Variable speed
  • Increase playback speed to read more quickly
  • Portable
  • Integrated handle and rechargeable battery
  • Sleep timer
  • A great way to enjoy reading before bed
  • Digital sound quality
  • Enjoy great sound quality for books and music
  • Information key
  • Announces book info (title, total/elapsed/remainingtime, total pages/headings)
  • Where am I key
  • Always know where you are in a book (page, chapter, headings, etc.)
  • Key describer
  • Announces the functions of each key

Specifications

  • Plays DAISY, Audio and MP3 CDs
  • Dimensions: 22 x 21.6 x 4.8 cm (8.7 x 8.5 x 1.9 in.)
  • Weight: 0.95 kg (2.1 lbs.) with battery
  • DAISY formats supported: 2.0 and 2.0.2
  • ANSI/NISO Z39.86 2002/2005 (DAISY 3)
  • Rechargeable Li-Polymer battery
  • Recharging time: 4 hours
  • Operating time: 10 hours for continuous play of DAISY MP3 books
  • Coding algorithms: AAC, AMR-WB+, FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Speex, WAV
  • Text-to-speech: Acapela (Stratus M) to play BRF, DOCX, RTF, txt, html, xml files
  • Power jack: 2.5 mm (interior) / 5.5 mm (exterior)
  • Headphone jack: 3.5 mm
  • Firmware upgrade via CD or SD/USB (Stratus M)
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Nancy Kalembe feels totally liberated

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Visually impaired people often have to fight for their rights to be accepted – proving that they are just as intelligent and skilled as anyone else. This is an even bigger challenge in Africa and other developing countries

In this quest to prove their abilities, some even excel at studying in difficult fields like law. One such a blind woman is the 38-year-old South African, Nancy Kalembe. She has studied hard and holds a LLB degree. In spite of her achievements, she has been struggling for a long time to find employment, as prospective employers have been unwilling to accommodate her special technology needs so she can perform the required duties.

Until recently, she could not afford to obtain the assistive devices she needed herself, but that has all changed. She is a recipient of a Braille Note Classic from the recent HumanWare(UK) and Sight Savers International African Initiative Now, with her BNC BT 32, Nancy is able to make her notes for court, read briefs in Braille and access all her stored files.

She says she feels totally liberated.

A big thank you to HumanWare and Sight Savers International for making affordable technology available to blind South Africans!

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