[guispeak] Fw: BlindNews: Disabled job seekers have help at Michigan Works:software designed by a blind engineer

  • From: "beth" <fb-oe@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <guispeak@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 22:17:47 -0500

----- Original Message -----
From: "Leon Gilbert" <BlindNews@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: "Blind News Mailing List" <BlindNews@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2005 9:44 PM
Subject: BlindNews: Disabled job seekers have help at Michigan
Works:software designed by a blind engineer


> Midland Daily News, Michigan
> Tuesday, January 11, 2005
>
> Disabled job seekers have help at Michigan Works: software designed by a
blind engineer
>
> By Cheryl Wade
>
>      Michigan Works job seekers with reading, hearing or vision problems
now have help in the form of software designed by a blind engineer.
>
>     The new Accessibility Suite software package reads text aloud when a
person highlights it or uses a computer cursor to point to it. It highlights
text word by word -- at the speed a reader chooses -- and can change the
color of print or background. It also magnifies text -- in most cases five
times normal size but in one case 32 times.
>
>     Creator Steve Timmer, a nuclear engineer who began losing his sight in
1985, demonstrated his software to Michigan Works staff members in Midland
last week. The software has been installed on one workstation in the lobby
and, this week, is being installed on eight machines in the Michigan Works
computer lab, said Mickie Sochacki, a case manager for the Work First
program aimed at helping welfare recipients prepare for and find jobs.
Sochacki has a computer background but said the software is easy for the
inexperienced to use. Staff members will receive hands-on training in the
coming weeks so they can work with customers who stop by and want to use it.
>
>     "Within 10 minutes I was using it" without having looked at manuals,
she said.
>
>     Michigan Works offices in Bay and Saginaw counties will offer the same
software to their clients, said Judith Burton, an access specialist who has
the job of making Tri-County Michigan Works offices accessible to all job
seekers. A grant to the Arnold Center, which is a partner with Michigan Work
s to provide job-related programs, provided funds to hire Burton.
>
>     Timmer, cofounder of Premier Assistive Technology, said he's spent the
last five years developing his software. Nearly blind from macular
degeneration, he can see images and figures and can read from a computer
screen if he holds his face close to it. But mostly, he reads with his ears.
>
>     "Right now most people can't afford to be disabled," he said. Many
blind people, for example, can't afford the $3,000 it typically costs to
make a computer accessible to them, he said.
>
>     "In the process of going blind myself, I was more disabled before I
was legally blind than after I became blind," Timmer continued. "There was
no help for me" through the transition.
>
>     His software includes a dictionary, calculator and checkbook. All of
them talk. If a person wants to look up a word but doesn't spell it right,
the dictionary proposes words the person might have meant -- similar to a
spellchecker.
>
>     Burton said the checkbook will be useful in Michigan Works classes
that teach budgeting and basic money management.
>
>     "This is not just job seeking," she said. "We're looking at life
skills."
>
>     Sochacki said she wishes her daughter, who is 20 and was born deaf,
could have had this kind of software to help her learn to read by
highlighting text word by word. English is her daughter's secondary
language, American Sign Language her primary one.
>
>     Timmer provided the software to Michigan Works free of charge and also
gives it to schools. He sells the package to students or job seekers who
decide they want the software package for home use. He'll return to Michigan
Works Feb. 11 to demonstrate the software to local school personnel, Burton
said.
>
>     Timmer has yet to develop a screen reader that enables a totally blind
person to read text and navigate a computer screen, but it's coming, he
said.
>
> ©Midland Daily News 2005
>
>
http://www.ourmidland.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=13723696&BRD=2289&PAG=461&dep
t_id=472542&rfi=6&xb=wumap
>
>
>
>
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