Dolphin Newsletter - June 2004

 

Index:

  1. New Maps released.
  2. Version 6 Language Releases.
  3. QAC Sight Village 2004.
  4. Voyager Braille display and Supernova combine to make a winning package.
  5. Supernova helps Nottingham City Council provide Inclusion for all their staff.
  6. Staff News.

 

New Maps released.

The latest set of new maps for version 5.30, 5.21 and version 6.01 software are now available via the Internet Updater.

17 maps are available for update from the Internet updater this month. These include:

  • Adobe Acrobat 5
  • Microsoft Excel 97/2000 (Swedish)
  • Microsoft Excel XP (Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, & Swedish)
  • Microsoft Outlook 2000/XP (Danish, Finnish & Norwegian)
  • Microsoft Word 2000 (Swedish)
  • Microsoft Word XP (Danish, Finnish & Norwegian)
  • Outlook 97/2000 (Swedish)
  • Outlook Express 5
  • Paltalk for Windows

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Version 6 Language Releases.

Supernova version 6.02 will be released this month in English, Swedish, Danish and Czech.

Dutch, German, Norwegian & Spanish are expected at the beginning of July, with French & Italian in the middle of July. Customers with v6.01 can download the update for free on the Internet Updater (select Maps menu and Update from Internet or ALT + M, U) Language packs will also be available for registered users from our website.

The 6.02 update also contains some fixes for customers with Windows 98, and for some known issues with Document Read and Auto Virtual Focus on the Internet. The 6.02 update will also announce when you cursor in and out of the print area in Excel.

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QAC Sight Village 2004.

The next major show that Dolphin will exhibit at, is QAC Sight Village, which runs from July 13th - 15th. From 2004 the exhibition venue has been changed to the Clarendon Suites, a popular, large conference centre on the Hagley Road, Birmingham, near to the Queen Alexandra College. Dolphin will be demonstrating the latest developments within their latest version 6 software suite and their latest DAISY audio publishing tools.

As part of the conference programme, Dolphin will be demonstrating how to use their latest DAISY authoring software to create DAISY content. Please feel free to come along and witness for yourself the benefits of EasePublisher, at any of the following presentation slots:

Creating DAISY Content using EasePublisher

  • Tuesday 13th July, 1:30pm - 2:15pm in Seminar Room 2 (SR2)
  • Wednesday 14th July, 1:30pm - 2:15pm in Seminar Room 9 on the Lower Ground Floor
  • Thursday 15th July, 1:30pm - 2:15pm in Seminar Room 2 (SR2)

Admission to the exhibition and conference is free. If you are planning to visit QAC Sight Village 2004 then please pop along and visit the Dolphin team on the Dolphin stand, in Hall C and experience all the new features in the latest version 6 release.

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Voyager Braille display and Supernova combine to make a winning package.

In the interest of extending the companies' longstanding relationship throughout the U.S. market, Dolphin Computer Access Inc., has teamed up with Optelec, the North American division of the Tieman Group, to offer blind and visually impaired computer users fantastic deals on the Voyager series of Braille displays.

From June 1 through September 30, 2004, Optelec is offering either the Braille Voyager 44 or 70 cell, Braille display complete with Dolphin's Supernova reader magnifier for the one-off price of $4,995 for the 44 cell model and $9,295 for the 70 cell model, saving customers over 15percent off each product's list prices. The package combines the industry's most innovative Braille display with the world's only combined screen reader and magnifier, in a single package. Magnification, speech or Braille - or all three? This package gives the PC user endless choices; so whatever the visual condition, this winning combination is all one needs to effectively integrate screen reading access and PC usage in educational settings, the workplace, or from the comfort of one's home.

"The best hardware device requires the best software partner, and Optelec's found such a partner in Dolphin Computer Access", stated Larry Lewis, Optelec's Vice President of Blindness Sales. "The Voyager series with Supernova Version 6 is the perfect combination for all market segments. We wanted to create a stellar package that would be robust, stable, reliable and useful - offering incomparable functionality and the best financial deal for the customer. Supernova is the only software that allows users to select between a screen reader, a screen magnifier and Braille output in a single installation. Supernova 6.0 gives to those of us who are blind a superior alternative to any other screen reader currently on the market, but with the bonus of magnification for those who need it. This software combined with our Voyager Braille display means that blind computer users now have more intuitive options for accessing and controlling their PCs through a Braille display with industry standard Windows functionality effortlessly and efficiently."

Dan Moore, Vice President of Sales for Dolphin, said, "This is an excellent opportunity for both our organizations to make a real difference to the lives of blind computer users by providing a high quality, complete package at a great price. The beauty of Supernova is that it can be networked or run from a server and is the only combined screen reader and magnifier that comes with support for Windows terminal server and Citrix Metaframe environments, ideal for students who must use a campus-wide network or employees who must interact with a company network. This is a great deal for blind and visually impaired computer users, saving them nearly $1400 compared to purchasing the products individually and offers a perfect solution, whatever your level of sight."

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Supernova helps Nottingham City Council provide Inclusion for all their staff.

Nottingham City Council, in the heart of the East Midlands, employs over 14,000 people directly or indirectly, across the region. The Council operates a policy of inclusion, which means that no one is discriminated against or disadvantaged because of disability and many new systems and procedures have been implemented to ensure that all their employees have the means to work effectively.

In June 2001 The Social Services department upgraded their information systems to CareFirst. Developed by OLM using Oracle, CareFirst is used extensively across Social Services departments in over 75 local authorities in the UK.

Nottingham City Council has predominantly deployed CareFirst on a Citrix MetaFrame network, which allows for remote access to the database via thin clients (within a terminal server environment). A thin client is the term used for a simple hardware device which relies on most of the function of the system being within the server. Generally thin clients have no processing capabilities, and are merely connection points using monitors, keyboards and mice in order to input data to the server, or to view data on the server.

Visually impaired staff at the Council had been using an alternative screen reader software to access their systems but this could not function in a thin client environment. This has meant that 'chubby client' accounts (with full processing capabilities), maintained through a Novell network, had to be provided to enable access. The drawback of this solution was that Oracle software, including all CareFirst forms and reports, had to be installed locally. This made on site maintenance of these machines very costly and time consuming, especially as the users are spread across the region. This also caused problems at more remote sites where available network bandwidth was low. Novell sessions are very bandwidth dependent and response times can be very slow and even unworkable.

A further complication arose when OLM developed MyCareFirst which has a graphical front end which could not be accessed using their existing screen reader. This meant that the Authority was unable to deploy this new development.

This led to Nottingham City and the RNIB approaching Dolphin Computer Access to evaluate Supernova and to see if a solution to MyCareFirst could be found.

Dolphin was the first access software company to develop a screen reader magnifier that was capable of working within a terminal server environment. Generally, a screen reader needs to be installed on a system which has its own processing capabilities in order for the speech output to function correctly. However, both Supernova and Hal from Dolphin, offer a screen reader capable of functioning fully in a terminal server environment. Not only do Supernova and Hal offer speech output but they also offer Braille support for blind computer users and Supernova also includes a screen magnifier.

In order to successfully map Supernova to the My CareFirst program various difficulties had to be overcome. The Oracle operating platform gave all the controls the same class name and the same control ID so differentiating between them was very difficult. Edit areas were created dynamically when in focus, so everything was picked up as incidental text apart from the one active edit area (normally all edit areas are detectable whether they are active or not). Selectable checkboxes had their labels to the left instead of the Windows convention of having the labels to the right. There was nothing displayed on the screen to show that a checkbox had the focus (normally in Windows a dotted outline is present around the label for a checkbox to show the focus area). Some edit areas had a special button associated with them which needed to be identified to the user as soon as these edit areas were in focus.

With the help of the RNIB and Nottingham City, Dolphin's technical support team were able to create a map that would allow Supernova to function with CareFirst. Using it's virtual focus features Supernova could be configured to successfully access the new My CareFirst program.

The results were excellent

"The support from Dolphin was exceptional. Without Dolphin we would not have been able to consider fully deploying CareFirst in a thin client environment. Additionally the solution they have developed will enable us implement MyCareFirst across the whole department" Said Tim Freer, at Nottingham City Council. Tim continues "Relocation of blind staff to areas of the authority with lower bandwidth would mean additional investment of around £15,000 per user without the Dolphin solution. With Supernova installed on the network users can work from any Nottingham Council location using the Citrix network, users can also 'hot desk' within the premises, by using individual profiles that are saved on the server. The other beauty of Supernova is that it combines a screen reader and a screen magnifier, as well as offering Braille support, this means that it satisfies users that are partially sighted as well as blind users."

Nottingham City Council have now committed to Supernova as their preferred option and purchased licences for all visually impaired staff. The Council is also recommending that The CareFirst Access Consortium adopts Supernova to be an officially supported access product.

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Staff News.

Congratulations go to Jan Lindholm, the founder of Labyrinten Data AB, who recently celebrated his 65th birthday. Dolphin has worked very closely with Jan since 1993, when Labyrinten became the distributor for all Dolphin products in Sweden. In January 2000, Labyrinten Data AB formally merged with Dolphin Computer Access, and as a result the Dolphin Audio Publishing division was established, to specialise in digital audio publishing and DAISY software solutions.

Jan

Jan Lindholm has worked within the IT industry since 1968, and established Labyrinten Data AB in April 1984. He has been instrumental in developing and establishing the DAISY standard and was recently recognised by the Memorial for Marta and Nils Barthelsson Foundation in Sweden, for his contribution to the development and support of the DAISY. The new DAISY standard (Digital Accessible Information System) provides a framework for the creation and playback of digital information in an accessible form of a digital talking book. DAISY digital talking books allow the full synchronisation of text, audio and images, creating a truly multi-sensory experience for the reader.

Jan Lindholm now lives in semi retirement in Falkoping in Sweden, where he enjoys photography and bird watching. He is also the chairman of the local department of The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. As a founder member of Labyrinten Data AB and the DAISY Consortium he continues to provide consultancy services to Dolphin as well as invaluable knowledge and support for DAISY members.

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