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VIEWPLUS EMPRINT, INK PRO, FORMATTER, AND DESIGNER: SEEING AND FEELING IS BELIEVING!

Abstract: The new ViewPlus Ink Pro Embosser permits users to emboss documents and overprint them with black ink. The new ViewPlus EmPrint produces a high-resolution color embossed image. Both printers employ HP ink jets, and both use Viewplus’s patented Tiger embossing technology. Both have a number of user options, including the ability to print original text along with braille. The new ViewPlus Formatter permits one to create these documents very easily from MS Office applications such as Word and Excel. ViewPlus is also introducing a powerful new low level application, the ViewPlus Designer, that permits prn (printer format) files to be created or edited. The Formatter, Designer, EmPrint, and Ink Pro will be demonstrated.
INTRODUCTION

Most blind people and those who work with them realize the great need for braille documents to have ink information on braille copy. If the meaning of braille is printed in ink, a mainstreamed blind child has instant assistance from a sighted teacher, parent, or peer if she becomes confused or does not understand something. This is probably the single most important need for ink and braille, but there are many others – eg which braille documents on a central embosser go to which person? Many older blind students and professionals would love to be able to print something for their sighted peers and be able to proof it before giving the copy away. Ink with braille permits that. The Ink Addition to the ViewPlus Pro was developed to fulfill these needs in an extremely user-friendly way. Previous technologies have been either very cumbersome or very slow and prone to errors. The Ink Pro is neither cumbersome nor slow. The Formatter is usable by anybody who knows how to use MS Office applications in Windows. For simple documents little or no braille expertise is needed.

The EmPrint is smaller, using letter size 8.5×11 or A4 paper, and slower than the Ink Pro, but is ideal for individual or classroom use for blind people. However it is intended primarily as a technology for sighted people with severe print disabilities. It is well known that many people with print disabilities can dramatically improve their ability to understand information if they can hear it as well as see it[Elkind, Higgins 1993, Higgins 1994]. The organization Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic[RFBD] found that their number of users began to multiply rapidly when RFB expanded from an agency serving blind people to RFBD, serving both blind and dyslexic people. It is also known that technical information is often understood more readily when “manipulatives” are used. Specialists believe that feeling objects aids understanding for people with various learning disabilities[Hartshorn, Lock, Witzel, Wright]. EmPrint provides materials that can be seen and felt. EmPrint and the new Viewplus IVEO[IVEO] technology are a potent combination permitting users to see, feel, and hear information.

ViewPlus expects users of its embosser technology to multiply with introduction of EmPrint and the IVEO technology. EmPrint permits users to see and feel information. IVEO permits them to hear it as well.
The Ink Pro and the Formatter and Designer Software

The ViewPlus Pro embosser has become the worldwide standard for user-friendly production of high-speed high-quality interpoint braille and tactile graphics, utilizing a wide variety of media having widths up to 17 inches. Recent introduction of an Ink Attachment converts this workhorse embosser into a device that can also overprint the embossed copy with black ink.

Users have a number of ink print options, including the ability to print ink text interlined with braille. The ViewPlus Formatter is a powerful new application utilizing the power of MS Office applications to create perfect braille. A copy of Formatter is bundled with all ViewPlus embossers. When used with ViewPlus ink-enabled embossers, the original text can be formatted simultaneously. By default, the original text is formatted to print in the space between braille lines. The Ink Pro is optimized to print with this configuration so that ink printing has negligible effect on print speed, giving an effective braille plus ink character speed over 200 cps.

Anybody who knows how to use Word can use the ViewPlus Formatter to create braille plus ink with a click of a mouse or keyboard key. Once the user options (eg contracted or noncontracted braille, language, capital letter options, etc.) have been selected, one needs only to click on the translate item, and the document is translated to braille with the original text reformatted interline. By default, text is printed at 10 point size,. but users can increase this to almost any desired value. Users may make minor changes/corrections to the information before printing. Properly-made alterations in Excel documents automatically propagate to the braille and interline ink versions. Once the user is satisfied with the document, one clicks to print to a ViewPlus embosser, and starts working on the next document.

Many specialists have requested a low-level author/editor application permitting them to create the dot patterns directly in the printer format used by the Viewplus embossers. ViewPlus has now introduced such an application, the ViewPlus Designer, permitting one to author an entire dot document or to edit a previously-created document – as for example with the ViewPlus Formatter. The Designer permits one to create graphics, control dot height, edit individual dots, key in braille, edit conflicting interpoint dots in graphics, etc. One can also create or edit ink text for the Ink Pro with the Designer. A Designer copy is also bundled with ViewPlus embossers.
The EmPrint

The EmPrint is ViewPlus’s first hardware product intended to serve needs of sighted as well as blind people. EmPrint creates an embossed high-resolution color picture from any Windows application. Like the Ink Pro, it can use the Formatter to make braille with overprinted ink for blind people. The dot patterns can also be edited with the Designer application, but the color image cannot be edited in Designer.

EmPrint is intended to fill a major need by people with severe dyslexia, Autism, and a number of other disabilities. Many specialists believe that EmPrint will be extremely successful in expanding accessibility of much graphical information for people with these disabilities particularly when combined with the new ViewPlus IVEO[IVEO] technology. The IVEO Creator permits graphical information to be created and distributed in a form that is usable by all people, including those with print disabilities. Sighted people with print disabilities can read an IVEO document by using the free IVEO Viewer and a mouse, or for easier accessibility, a touch screen or Tablet PC. People with more severe print disabilities can gain excellent access by making an embossed color image of an IVEO document with EmPrint, placing that copy on a touchpad or Tablet PC, and then see, feel, and hear the information. When an object is touched (or activated with the Tablet pen), the user hears the name of the object. Text is spoken when selected. Most object-oriented graphical information can be made extremely usable by people with severe print disabilities if it is properly authored with the IVEO Creator and viewed with the IVEO Viewer with assistance of an EmPrint copy on a touchpad.
Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful for support of these developments by Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants from the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health.
References
[1] Elkind Elkind, Jerome, Cohen, Karen, and Murray, Carol, “Using Computer-Based Readers to Improve Reading Comprehension of Students with Dyslexia”, Palo Alto, CA Lexia Institute research paper, 1992
[2] Hartshorn Hartshorn, Robert, “Experiential Learning of Mathematics Using Manipulatives” http://www.ldonline.org/article.php
[3] Higgins 1993 Higgins, Elenor, and Raskind, Marshall, “An Investigation of the Effects of Assistive Technology on Post-Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities”, Proceedings of the 1993 CSUN Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities
[4] Higgins 1994 Higgins, Elenor, and Svi, Jennifer, “Assistive Technologies for Persons with Learning Disabilities: From Research to Practice”, Proceedings of the 1994 CSUN Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities
[5] IVEO Information on the IVEO technology is availabpresented in another paper at this conference and on the ViewPlus web site http://www.ViewPlus.com
[6] Lock – Lock, Robin H., University of Texas at Austin “Adapting Mathematics Instruction in the General Education Classroom for Students with Mathematics Disabilities” LD Forum: Council for Learning
[7] RFBD Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic provides audio tapes and DAISY format CD’s for people who provide documentation proving blindness or dyslexia, http://www.rfbd.org
[8] Witzel – Witzel, Brad; Smith, Stephen W.; and Brownell, Mary T.; “How Can I Help Students with Learning Disabilities in Algebra?” Intervention in School and Clinic Vol. 37, No.2, pp 101-104, November 2001 Reprinted with permission Copyright 2001 by PROED, http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/math_skills/algebra_and_ld.html
[9] Wright Wright, C. Christina, Ph.D., “Learning Disabilities in Mathematics” October 1996 reprinted with permission, National Center for Learning Disabilities Inc, http://www.ldonline.org/ld_indepth/math_skills/math-1.html

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