Friday, May 28

Encouraging hybrid legislation

Greetings. Here's great news on the hybrid car front. This message was forwarded to a guide dog list I'm on from another list. Enjoy.


Subject: Legislative Alert - Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Dear Fellow Federationists:

I am writing to report that all of our hard work on the issue of silent cars
is paying off. Language that will protect the blind and others from the
danger posed by silent hybrid and electric vehicles has been favorably
reported to the United States House of Representatives by the Committee on
Energy and Commerce as part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 (H.R.
5381). This legislation, which is a comprehensive bill to address numerous
vehicle safety issues raised by the recent Toyota recalls, now includes
language agreed to by the National Federation of the Blind, the Alliance of
Automobile Manufacturers, and the Association of International Automobile
Manufacturers. If passed by the House of Representatives and adopted by the
Senate, this language will require the Department of Transportation to issue
regulations requiring a minimum sound standard for hybrid and electric

This victory is a product of our hard work and the cooperation of the
automobile industry, but we will need to remain vigilant to make sure this
bill becomes law. We will keep you apprised of developments and let you
know if action needs to be taken to secure this victory.

Thank you again for all you do.


Jesse M. Hartle
Government Programs Specialist

Friday, May 14

Added Twitter to blog

Greetings. Those wanting a blog post from me will be happy for this one. I've added the ability to view my last 5 tweets on the popular microblogging site known as Twitter, as well as an RSS feed for all of my tweets or posts on Twitter. After being on Twitter for 6 months now, I truely understand that to follow what someone says on the site you really need to read the conversations they participate in, verses just reading their tweets alone. So once again, anyone that wants to keep up to date on what I'm doing and things I find interesting, you're invited to join Twitter and follow your humble blog author. However, if you just want to read my tweets alone and that's all, without going to the bother of joining this free site where there's only one CAPTCHA or visual verification code, with audio option, to fill out, then that's fine too. I would also recommend the RSS feed for The Ranger Station which is listed below in the Blogs and Feeds to Watch section (where you'll also find my RSS feed). Ranger participates in lots of back and forth with people, but he also posts many interesting, and sometimes not so much, articles and links that any tech guru might find fascinating. I thought of taking his RSS feed down, but frankly, there's so much good stuff there in the article links alone that I decided to leave it up. I don't know when my next posting will be on this blog, but as my "Wayne's Latest Tweets" section will attest to, I'm fairly active on Twitter. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 30

Booksense version 2.1 released

Greetings. For those interested, Booksense version 2.1 has been released. See below the announcement from GW Micro. Also, I realize that I haven't been as active on the blog as of late. I'm much more active on Twitter. If you're on it and want to see what I've been up to or want to follow me, then go to:



In case you missed our important CSUN announcements, BookSense 2.1 firmware has been released!

You asked for it, and we have listened. GW Micro is proud to announce the brand new release of BookSense 2.1. The BookSense now supports content from SAMNet, such as audio described movies, television shows, and more. SAMNet is a subscription service. For more details and to sign up, go to

BookSense 2.1 also adds full support for NFB Newsline In Your Pocket. Now you can use the BookSense to play your favorite newspaper or magazine. For more details, visit

The new, free upgrade also adds different tones for marks, and the ability to switch from text to audio or from audio to text while reading a DAISY book; making DAISY playback more simplified.

To download the latest firmware, and to read all of the changes for BookSense 2.1, go to
and then activate the BookSense 2.1 Now Available link. If you have any other questions or need help installing the firmware, please contact our Technical Support Department at (260) 489-3671, or via email at

Jeremy Curry
Director of Training
GW Micro, Inc.

Thursday, February 18

Stream version 3.1 released

Greetings. I received the following message from HumanWare regarding version 3.1 for the Victor Reader Stream. Coming at this from another user perspective, the Booksense already has many of the features that were added to the Stream. However, those that use the Stream will likely be pleased to have this update. Missing from this update is the announced support for the Epub e-books format, which was promoted at the recent Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference last month. Personally, since many things were fixed in Booksense version 2, such as the fixes for NLS books, I haven't looked back to the stream and am using the Booksense for all of my portable media listening. I still have my Stream at this point, but it's sitting in my desk drawer unused. Anyway, here's the information for the Stream update.


Dear Victor Reader Friends:

HumanWare is please to announce the release of new Stream 3.1 software. Stream 3.1 is a free release that responds to popular requests received from many Stream customers. New features include:

- Multi-level Talking Books bookshelf. The ability to create nested folders on the Other Books, Podcast, and Text File bookshelves introduced in version 3.0 has been extended to include the Talking Books bookshelf. You can now optionally create nested folders within the $VRDTB bookshelf folder and navigate the structure while browsing the Talking Books bookshelf.

- For our friends in Spain we now support the Spanish braille electronic text files with a file type of .BRA. At the time of this announcement the Spanish 3.1 is not yet available but we are working with our partner in Spain to release it as soon as possible.

- The popular percentage announcement on the Where Am I key that informs you how much of the book you have listened to has been extended to Talking Books and Audible books.

- When you set a start position for a Highlight bookmark the End position can now be set with a single key press of the Bookmark key.

- The navigation UNDO feature has been extended to the Go To Page function.

- We have introduced two shortcuts to reach the start or end of a book. To quickly jump to the beginning of a book press the Go To key once and then press the Rewind key once. To reach the end of the book press the Go To key and then the Fast Forward key.

- When you press Cancel to end a recording the Stream will now ask you to confirm. This prevents stopping a recording accidentally.

- Stream 3.1 will allow you to copy DAISY books from USB flash media such as flash memory sticks or the NLS cartridges used by the NLS library in the USA and the AFWA library in Western Australia. Each USB flash book must be in its own folder. When you attach a cartridge or flash media the Stream will automatically start playing the first DAISY book on the media. Once the book is playing you can optionally press key 3 to copy it to the Talking Books bookshelf of your SD card.

Stream 3.1 also includes several bug fixes. Please see the Release Notes for full details.

Both the software and Release Notes can be downloaded from the Stream support page at:

Select the Software link on that page. You will find the Release Notes at the top of the English 3.1 software download links. You can choose from two English versions one with Samantha + Tom text-to-speech voices and another with Samantha + Daniel (UK) voices. You can upgrade to version 3.1 from any prior Stream version. To install the new software, follow these steps:

- Download the software zip file

- Unzip the single UPG upgrade file from the zip file. You do not need special unzip software. Simply press Enter to open the zip file and you can then select the UPG file.

- Copy this UPG file to the root of your Stream SD card.

- Disconnect the Stream from the computer, connect it to AC power and turn it on.

- The Stream will automatically start the update process which takes about 2 minutes during which time it will announce intermittent "please Wait" messages. The Stream will power off when the new software is installed.

- When you power back on the UPG file will be automatically removed from your SD card.

After the new software is installed, an html Release Notes document will also be available in a HumanWare sub-folder of your Text Bookshelf so you may read the Release Notes with your Stream. The html version allows you to navigate the Release Notes section by section using the 2/8 keys to select the level and keys 4 and 6 to move between sections.

With this announcement, version 3.1 is available in Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Norwegian, Polish, and Swedish. As other languages become available they will be posted on the same download page. We also are working on a new version of the Stream Companion software for Windows which will be announced on the Newswire when it is available.

HumanWare values your continued support of the Victor Reader Stream. We remain committed to our customers to make the Stream the most powerful, flexible, and enjoyable product used for listening to digital talking books, computer files, and music.

Thank you,
The HumanWare Team

Thursday, February 11

New Olympus players announced

Greetings. Below is a message that I sent to some of my work colleagues regarding the summer release of some new Olympus digital voice recorders and media players. Blind Bargains has the same information, along with many other sites, but they also have the U.S. prices, which are expected to be $249 for the Olympus D2 and $299 for the Olympus D4. Are the features for either of these players enough to get me to go out and buy one? Probably not since I've already got and am happy with my Booksense from Gw Micro. However, if the Olympus players live up to their billing and if what I speculate below about their ability to perhaps play the DAISY NLS files, then this would truly be a notable development. It could mean that a mainstream developer of technology is really taking an interest in the blind market and attempting to reach out beyond offering one token product for the blind. Given the battery life though, it does present an interesting and thought provoking case for getting these new players. Enjoy.


The Olympus D4 and D2 have been announced. Among other things, these players include built in voice guidance and text to speech, as well as the ability to play DAISY files specific to the blind and low vision. Though it doesn’t say so directly, since it supports the DAISY files for the blind, I’m assuming that this means it will play the NLS digital talking book files. If this is true, then this is probably the first mainstream off the shelf player that will be able to play these types of files. Read more at the link below:

Monday, January 18

Additional JAWS Braille driver from FS

Greetings. I received the following announcement in my email Inbox and thought it worht sharing here. For those that use these displays, then this is good news. Enjoy.


Direct from the Freedom Scientific website:

JAWS Driver for Brailliant and BrailleConnect Displays
As you can see from Freedom Scientific's website, with one exception, all
the major Braille display manufacturers are participating in Freedom
Scientific's Secure and Compatible Braille Display Initiative. Under this
initiative, Freedom Scientific and Braille display manufacturers work
together to make sure that users get the best experience possible with
Braille. One manufacturer, who has yet to sign on, is Baum, and we know that
there are some Freedom Scientific customers who have been inconvenienced by
that. Because of this, Freedom Scientific has filled the gap by writing and
testing its own new 32-bit driver for those using the HumanWare Brailliant
or BrailleConnect Series of displays with JAWS 11. These displays are
distributed in English speaking markets by HumanWare, but they are
manufactured by Baum in Germany. This new Freedom Scientific driver will
work with both USB and Bluetooth.

If you have one of these displays installed on your computer and working
with JAWS 9 or JAWS 10, all you need to do is install JAWS 11, download and
install the driver using the link below, and then restart JAWS 11. It should
work as expected. If you have not used these displays before on your
computer, you will still need to install the system level drivers first
using the HumanWare CD that came with your display. Once that is done,
install JAWS 11, download and install this new driver, and restart JAWS, and
then everything should be working.

We still hope that Baum will come on board with the Secure and Compatible
Braille Display Initiative, as have other Braille display manufacturers, so
that we can complete support for 64-bit JAWS.

JAWS Driver for Brailliant and BrailleConnect Displays (32-bit) - 4.0 MB

Thursday, January 14

Save Wayfinder Access

Greetings. I received this message the other day regarding the Wayfinder Access product. I bought this product for my Nokia N82 phone a year ago. The times that I have used it, I have found it very interesting and helpful. Wayfinder Access was by far the cheapest and most afordable, other than the free packages that were under development, of the various GPS solutions out there for the blind. The next GPS product for the blind costs double the price of Wayfinder Access and though it runs on Windows Mobile phones, I don't believe that it can run on the Symbian platform. Hopefully another company will take up development and continue this great product. If not, then we might have seen the end of an era for a certain portion of the mobile blind population. Anyway, if you are inclined to help save the software or help continue its development and are on Facebook, then check out this group. Here's the message.


From: Darren Harris

Greetings all,

I do apologize for this cross posting but I feel that it is necessary.

I don't know how many of you have herd but the wayfinder access gps solution
for simbion based mobile phones is no longer available. Vodafone who own the
rights to wayfinder products have pulled the plug on it completely. They
have discontinued the entire wayfinder product line effectively in order to
create their own package. Which we believe is going to be completely
inaccessible to blind people.

Considering how accessible wayfinder access is to use as a product, we feel
that this is unacceptable action to be undertaken.

If you are on facebook, then I have created a group called (save wayfinder
action group). The purpose of this group is to bring a dedicated group of
people together so that we can constructively build a case in favour of
keeping access going as a product.

If you think and believe as we do that this product should be saved, then
please come and join in and help to build a case for this product.

It's not often that we come across a product that is in the adaptive market
and that is as cheap comparatively as access.

Please spread the word on other mailing lists as this is important.
Specifically the various phone and technology lists that there are out there
and anybody else who you think may benefit from this.

Thank you for your attention.

Booksense version 2 manual available

Greetings. As the title says, the version 2 manual for the Booksense is now available on the GW Micro site. Read below for more details. Note that the HTML version of the manual has been produced along with the other file format versions. The HTML version was completed after this message went out a few days ago. The HTML version has full support for heading navigation throughout the document, so that the user can read by part or individual section. these manuals can be read on a computer or on the Booksense itself. Enjoy.


Hello. Just to let you know that the BookSense manual is on our site
now. At this time, a text version and a zipped version is available.
We are working fast to convert this to html and Word as soon as
possible. This manual is for firmware version 2.0 of the BookSense. If
you want to read the manual in the document reader of the BookSense,
copy the manual text file to the Documents folder of the SD card or
flashdisk and read away.

Many thanks.

Raul A. Gallegos
GW Micro Technical Support Team

Monday, January 11

Booksense now supports RFB&D

Greetings. I received the following announcement from GW Micro earlier. This is great news for those students, be they in grade school, junior high, high school, college or graduate level, and professionals who may need RFBD materials in a more portable digital form. It took a while for the Booksense to add support for RFBD material, but now it's finally here. Happy reading!


GW Micro is proud to announce that the BookSense officially supports Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D). RFB&DAr is the leading accessible audio book library for students with disabilities such as visual impairment or dyslexia. BookSense customers can now take advantage of the large selection of textbooks available from the RFB&D service.

With the addition of support for RFB&D books, students can now instantly download textbooks from
and read the books on the BookSense. Textbooks are available from RFB&D's AudioPlus service, which has books in DAISY format. Students can choose from any of the 50,000 books, all of which are read by humans, so students get the benefit of an actual person reading the book.

Adding RFB&D support to the BookSense adds even greater capability to one of the most advanced eBook readers available to people who are blind or visually impaired. The BookSense XT is the only eBook reader for the blind to have built-in Bluetooth for wire-free listening while in the classroom, as well as built-in memory to make it easier for students to carry textbooks without the need to worry about memory cards.
Whether you own the BookSense or BookSense XT, both models support RFB&D. Your player must be authorized to play RFB&D content. This means you must become an RFB&D member. You can sign up by going to
or by calling RFB&D at 1-800-221-4792. Once you have become a member of RFB&D, you will need to authorize your BookSense player. To learn how to authorize your player, go to

If you have any other questions regarding the BookSense, please contact GW Micro at (260) 489-3671.

Friday, January 1

2009 Annual Access Awards

Greetings. Once again, the folks over at Blind bargains are doing their annual awards for the best of 2009 in accessible technologies, products, software and websites. Click here to view 2009 Access Award rules and submit nominations. This first period of nominations goes until January 14 at 5pm EST. Nominations can only be submitted once per person and per category. View the categories and consider what you want to nominate for which before making your submissions. Enjoy and good luck to all.