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News You Can Use

When we find useful information related to assistive technology or disability, we'll post it here.

December 19, 2007: Microsoft to Develop Translator to Convert MS Word Documents to DAISY

John Williams writes in Assistive Technology News that Microsoft is developing a plug-in to translate Open XML documents into Daisy XML so that Microsoft Word documents will be accessible to people with visual disabilities who use assistive products that read digital publications using the DAISY XML standard. The "Save As DAISY" plug-in will be available as a free download for Microsoft Office Word (Word XP, Word 2003 and Word 2007) customers in early 2008. For more details, read the article in Assistive Technology News linked below.

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November 15, 2007: "Wallace and Gromit" Animators Create Disability Awareness Campaign

Aardman Animations, who produced the "Wallace and Gromit" movie and shorts, has teamed with Leonard Cheshire Disability to create "Creature Discomforts," a series of shorts that raise awareness on disability issues. Like the Academy Award-winning short film, "Creature Comforts," the "Creature Discomforts" shorts combine actual voices of people with disabilities with animated characters to relate actual experiences and views from the disability community in the United Kingdom. The campaign also includes several audio-only pieces. Text and sign language captions are available for both the audio and video shorts.

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November 1, 2007: Danish Study Seeks Opinions on Tongue Interface Systems

Aalborg University in Denmark is conducting a research project to develop an inductive tongue-control system ( The project seeks to determine the most efficient tongue interfacing methods for people with movement disabilities, including the optimal mouse/keyboard layout, text entry system, command strategies, and design, with which people with severe physical disabilities can control electronic devices, including computers. Their researchers are currently conducting a survey to get consumers' opinions on the current interfacing system that they use and their thoughts on addition and enhancements that might improve the functionality and usability of the system. This survey will help the research team to design a better and more efficient tongue control interface. Click on the link below to take part in the survey.

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October 26, 2007: Presidential Candidate Forum on Disabilites to Take Place Nov. 2

A presidential candidate forum on equality, opportunity and access will take place in Manchester, New Hampshire on November 2, 2007 from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm. Hosted by Granite State Independent Living, the forum will feature presidential candidates speaking on disability issues, panel discussions with national disability leaders, and more. The entire event will be webcast at beginning at 8:30 a.m. EST on Friday, November 2.

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July 25, 2007: NFB Starts New Forum for Blind Wheelchair Users

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has launched Blind Rollers, an online forum for discussing issues relating to blind people who have mobility disabilities. The forum addresses the needs of blind people who require a wheelchair all or part of the time or have trouble walking.

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June 27, 2007: Javits-Wagner-O'Day Renamed "AbilityOne Program"

The Javits-Wagner-O'Day (JWOD) program is now called the AbilityOne Program. AbilityOne is a Federal initiative to help people who are blind or severely disabled find employment by working for nonprofit agencies that sell products and/or services to the U.S. Government. In 2006, nearly 47,000 people were employed through the program, making AbilityOne the largest source of work opportunities for people who are blind or have other severe disabilities in the U.S.

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June 13, 2007: New Assistive Listening/Captioning Device at Disney World

AllEars,net, a Disney news and information newsletter and Web site, reports that an enhanced handheld device is now being offered at Walt Disney World Resort for guests who benefit from handheld and closed captioning at the attractions. By September 2007, the devices are also scheduled to provide amplified audio for assistive listening, and future plans call for the devices to provide descriptive audio for people who are blind or who have low vision. The device is about the size of a PDA and uses wireless technology. Disney has patented and licensed the technology, which could serve a wide variety of retail, commercial and industrial applications. The device is available free of charge at all four Walt Disney World theme parks, with a refundable $100 deposit.

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January 22, 2007: AUDIENT Program Helps Low-Income People to Receive Hearing Care

If you cannot afford the hearing aid you need, the AUDIENT Program may be able to help you. For people whose income is two-and-a-half times the national poverty level - $24,500 for an individual, plus $8,500 for each additional family member, AUDIENT may be able to help you find affordable hearing care and discounted hearing aids. AUDIENT is a program of Northwest Hearing Care, an affiliate of the Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight and Hearing.

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