We have been hearing rumors for quite some time about the impending acquisition of Freedom Scientific. In the past week, we have been hearing that Freedom Scientific would be acquired by Wafra Investment Advisory Group, Inc. It turns out these rumors are true according to this press release directly from Wafra. There is one question that comes to mind right now. How can a company that appears to have no clue about web site accessibility purchase a company that works to make accessibility a reality for the blind and visually impaired? What changes in direction will Freedom Scientific take after this acquisition?
I have figured out how to broadcast a voice chat session using Skype over Station Playlist Studio using two sound cards with no hardware mixer. This configuration was tested for the first time this afternoon during a four hour show on ACB Radio Interactive. Feel free to try this procedure and give us some feedback with your own results.
Sound card settings
Make the following adjustments to the sound card volume control in the Control Panel:
- Playback: Microphone and wave not muted. Reduce microphone volume to prevent distortion.
- Recording: What you hear selected with 100 percent volume setting.
This configuration requires at least Station Playlist version 4.0, as it takes advantage of the software’s built-in mixing capability:
- Input > Mic Input tab:
- Recording mixer: “What You Hear”
- Output mixer: none
- Output > Mixer tab: Switch device to another sound card or possibly Null output. Switch the screen reader to the sound card selected on Studio’s Output > Mixer tab or a second sound card if null was selected in Studio. Use a second pair of earbuds or headphones to hear broadcast monitoring and speech from the screen reader.
In Tools > Options > Audio, uncheck “let Skype adjust my audio settings”. This adjustment is necessary to prevent Skype from significantly reducing the volume during the broadcast.
The following tech tip is derived from a message I wrote to a mailing list in response to a request for help to remove JAWS from the order of windows presented when changing tasks using the Alt+Tab command.
You can run JAWS from the System Tray instead of the Taskbar, which will remove it from the alt+tab order of windows. Follow these steps:
- Press JAWS Key+J to open the JAWS window.
- Press alt+o for the Options menu.
- Press b for the Basics dialogue.
- Tab over to “Run JAWS from the System Tray” and press the space bar to check this box.
- Tab to OK and press enter.
- The next time JAWS or your computer restarts, JAWS will be in the System Tray.
Note: In the vast majority of scenarios, the JAWS Key is the insert key on the lower left-hand corner of the numeric keypad.
Karen has asked me several times to teach her how to set the priority and request a read receipt for outgoing messages in Outlook Express. Setting the priority tells the recipient that you deem the contents of your message as being of low, normal or high importance. Requesting a “read receipt” is an attempt to determine whether or not the intended recipient has actually opened and read your message. The recipient may choose whether or not to acknowledge receipt of your message. The ability to do this can sometimes be helpful when dealing with advocacy situations where e-mail communications are involved. It seemed like these features might be sufficiently significant to warrant a tech tip here on the journal, so I hope some of you find these instructions helpful. This procedure is not screen reader specific.
Follow these steps to compose a new message, set its priority to “high” and request that the recipient acknowledge receipt:
- Run Outlook Express as usual.
- Press CTRL+N to compose a new message.
- Complete the “To”, “CC”, “BCC” and “Subject” fields as you normally would when sending e-mail.
- Write the text of your message.
- Press Alt+M to pull down the Message menu.
- Press p to open the Set Priority submenu.
- Press h to check the “High” option. You may, instead, press l to choose “Low” or n to choose “Normal” priority. Normal is the default.
- Press Alt+T to pull down the Tools menu.
- Press t to check “Request Read Receipt”.
- Press Alt+S or CTRL+Enter to send the message with high urgency and a request that the recipient acknowledge receipt of your communication.
Skype is permitting their users to call anyone by telephone using Skype on Mother’s Day totally free of charge. See Free calls to any phone in the world. One day only for details.
Reagan reports that there is an effort underway to devise and implement techniques for making AJAX based technologies work with screen readers. See this interesting article for details.
May 11, 2007
Fixed the Zip List command, Control+Shift+Z. In the Web Download command,
Alt+Shift+W, a different, more reliable technique is implemented for getting
the web address of a page open in Internet Explorer.
With the optional JAWS scripts, made Control+Equals a synonym of Control+E
for the Evaluate command (to be consistent with the Homer interface). Added
the Manual Options command, Alt+Shift+M, for adjusting FileDir settings
directly in a text editor.
Doubled the number of special folders available via the Open Special Folder
command, Control+Shift+O. You can now have greater control over
your computer by conveniently examining and managing the following 35
folders as needed:
Common Administrative Tools
Common Application Data
Common Start Menu
Local Application Data
May 11, 2007
Fixed some of the optional JAWS scripts, as well as command descriptions in
the Alternate Menu (Alt+F10), to reflect recent changes in key
assignments. Fixed TextPal copying selected text to the clipboard in a
small font rather than as unformatted plain text.
In the Grab URLs command, Alt+Shift+G, a different, more reliable
technique is implemented for getting the web address of a page open in
Internet Explorer. Reassigned the Insert Time command to
Alt+Shift+Semicolon. Alt+Semicolon still says the time and date.
Modified the Order Lines and Keep Unique Lines commands, Alt+Shift+O and
Alt+Shift+K, to ignore case. Enhanced the Yield command, Alt+Y, to
operate on either all or selected text.
Added two commands that are part of the developing "Homer editor interface."
Press Alt+Backslash to open the folder of the current file in
Windows Explorer, or Control+Backslash to open a command prompt there. Also
for Homer consistency, the evaluate command, Control+E, has a
synonym, Control+Equals. In addition, this command is enhanced to operate
on either the current line or selected text. Thus, one could write several
lines of code in the Ruby language, select the text, and then evaluate the
result. For example, the following algebra calculates the cumulative total
of an initial $100 deposit compounded for 12 months at 5% interest:
interest = 1.05
deposit = 100
months = 12
total = (interest ** months) * deposit
The result, about $180, was placed on the line below the previously selected
text, and the cursor was placed at the start of that line.
A list of accessible software I have developed for Windows, with download
links, is available at
For upgrading to the latest FileDir and TextPal, remember that you may
elevate on May 11 with F11!
Please allow me to present all of you with a thought provoking question. Feel free to comment.
If something bad happens and all of the causes are totally outside of your control, should you be punished in the same manner as though it was under your control and you were involved in the situation out of carelessness or purpose?
I really can’t say anymore about the situation right now, but, of course, you can bet that it is most certainly blindness related. If you have questions or would like further clarification, please post a comment. Let’s get a little dialogue going in the comments to this post.
GW Micro is showing that they are serious about doing all they can to run a profitable business while making their screen reading software available to as many blind and visually impaired people as possible. We applaud GW Micro for making this option available, and are thus happy to redistribute the following announcement:
One of the largest barriers to technology for blind and visually impaired people has always been the high cost, but that is about to change. GW Micro, maker of Window-Eyes, is breaking down those barriers, and now offering a low-cost payment plan for the most advanced screen reader available.
Do you need a screen reader that already has official support for Office 2007, Windows Vista, and makes the Outlook Calendar fully accessible? This is your chance to take advantage of the latest screen reading technology at an affordable price.
The new Window-Eyes Payment Plan replaces the Window-Eyes Lease-to-own program. Here is how it works: Instead of the blind consumer immediately paying the full price to buy Window-Eyes, they can opt between two plans. Both plans include Window-Eyes and a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) which provides three major upgrades of Window-Eyes.
The first choice is the Short Term Payment Plan, which costs $50 the first month (plus shipping), and $100 per month for the next 12 months. The second choice is the Long Term Payment Plan which costs $41 the first month (plus shipping) and $39 per month for the next 31 months. There are no penalties for paying off the balance early, and there is no interest on top of your monthly payment.
If you have been waiting to upgrade your copy of Window-Eyes, now is the time! If your upgrade costs $400 or more, you can use the Window-Eyes Payment Plan to upgrade. Contact our orders department for more information.
The new Window-Eyes Payment Plan is shipping now, and you can place your order now by calling our orders department at (260) 489-3671, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, check out www.gwmicro.com/paymentplan.
David Bailes from the U.K. is making available, free of charge, several guides for using JAWS and screen magnification software with applications such as Audacity and Windows Media Player 11. It is worth your time to visit the VIP Software Guides web site to check out this valuable resource.