ViewPlus Technologies was founded by Dr. John Gardner in 1996. Over the past decade, the company has become synonymous with increased access to mathematical and scientific materials for individuals with visual impairments.

The IVEO is only one of ViewPlus’ many innovative products designed to make non-textual information (such as charts, graphs, maps and diagrams) accessible to people with print disabilities.

IVEO is comprised of four components:
IVEO Creator (a drawing program that can be used to create and edit tactile-audio documents)
IVEO Converter (a tool that allows scanned or pre-existing images to be imported into IVEO)
IVEO Touchpad (a touch-sensitive pad that is used to explore and edit tactile-audio images)
IVEO Viewer (a software application that allows IVEO documents to be read on-screen or with the IVEO touchpad).

The IVEO Viewer saves all files in Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) format. Like the Portable Document Format (PDF) file type developed by Adobe Systems, Inc., the SVG format allows an author to attach title and description attributes to graphical objects or to edit information in these labels that is incorrect or out-of-date. These attributes are not visible when the SVG graphic file is displayed in a conventional SVG viewer, but are displayed and spoken by the IVEO Viewer when they are pressed by the user or selected with the mouse.

Image of IVEO package Once an SVG file has been opened in the IVEO Viewer, a totally blind individual can use any of the ViewPlus embossers to create a tactile copy of the graphic they wish to examine. All ViewPlus printers implement Tiger ® technology (which embosses with a resolution of 20 dots per inch) and come bundled with the Tiger® Software Suite (which includes a formatter, a text-to-Braille translator and a tactile graphics design studio). Individuals with low vision or those with learning disabilities can use the Emprint Haptic Color Braille Embosser (which combines Tiger technology with Hewlett-Packard’s ink jet technology) to create a high resolution color image that can also be felt.

After the image has been embossed, it is placed on the IVEO Touchpad for the user to explore. When a component on the diagram is pressed, the computer speaks its associated label and descriptors and consolidates all verbal information into a text-only window, which the user can choose to either emboss or review on-screen. On a map of the United States, for instance, an object might be a particular state, its associated label might be the state’s name and additional descriptors might include the state’s capital city and population.

This article was written by Dena Shumila of www.axistive.com and printed on March 24th, 2006.

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