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GW Micro Response to Freedom Scientific Lawsuit

August 14, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Fort Wayne, Indiana, August 15, 2008 — GW Micro, Inc., a Fort Wayne, Indiana-based company dedicated to providing high quality adaptive technology solutions for blind and visually impaired individuals, announced today that it has received notice of a patent infringement lawsuit brought by Freedom Scientific, Inc., the self-described “world leader in technology-based solutions for people with visual impairments.” The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,993,707 for a “Document Placemarker.” GW Micro has reviewed the claim and believes it is overreaching and not consistent with what Freedom Scientific told the Patent Office when obtaining its patent. GW Micro intends to defend itself vigorously and expects to prevail in court. “As many of our users know, our screen reader — Window-Eyes — has had the capability of returning to a specific line within a webpage since version 3.1, which was released over nine years ago, well before Freedom Scientific’s alleged invention,” said Dan Weirich, GW Micro’s Corporate President. Weirich went on to note that, “The implication in a recent Freedom Scientific press release that GW Micro is ‘benefiting from [Freedom Scientific’s] investment at no charge’ is simply not accurate nor in line with GW Micro’s tradition of success and fair play.” Finally, Weirich concluded, “We will aggressively defend both our legal position and our place in the assistive technology community.”

Daniel R. Weirich

GW Micro, Inc.

725 Airport North Office Park

Fort Wayne, IN 46825

ph 260-489-3671

Categories: lawsuit, press release

The State of Arkansas and SAP A.G. Settle Lawsuit, Make the Accessible Choice!

August 13, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

We are happy to report that a 2001 accessibility lawsuit brought against SAP and the state of Arkansas by the National Federation of the Blind has now been settled in favor of the state’s blind employees, who will be granted full accessibility to the state’s ERP system by August of 2009. Read the blog post entitled Arkansas state computer system will be accessible to the blind along with the Computer World article covering the story in the mainstream information technology media.

I posted the following public comment to the Computer World article:

Equal accessibility is a reasonable accommodation under several laws in the United States and other parts of the world. As blind people, we spend thousands of dollars on assistive technology to make computers accessible to us. Our aim isn’t to put anyone out of business or cause anyone an undue burden. We just need and want to participate in the workplace just like everyone else. We must be granted equal access to hardware and software in order to achieve this goal. Accessibility is a meet-you-halfway proposition. Our assistive technology industry works tirelessly to create solutions that make our digital lives accessible. It is now time for the mainstream technology industry to step up to the plate more seriously to meet the other half of this proposition, by ensuring that technology works with screen readers and reasonably accommodates our needs for accessibility.

Approximately three weeks ago, I was laid off my job because SonicWALL refused to make its implementation of the Siebel CRM software accessible. It would have taken only about an hour or so worth of a developer’s time, but SonicWALL made the decision not to accommodate me. The resulting discrimination has turned me from a successfully employed taxpayer to a recipient of Social Security Disability benefits and Unemployment Insurance! I hope other developers of mainstream software and web services will learn a valuable lesson from the settlement of this lawsuit. Make the right choice! Open your eyes and work together with us to ensure a brighter, more accessible future for all your customers and end users, including those of us who happen to be blind or visually impaired!

We ask all of you to take a look at the press release, read the Computer World article and post your own comments in support of equal access to workplace technology for the blind and visually impaired!

Article: Lotus ‘Safe & Sound’ system makes hybrid,electric vehicles audible

August 12, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

We are relieved to learn that a solution now exists to the safety concerns
posed by electric and hybrid vehicles to blind and visually impaired
pedestrians. It is now up to those of us in the blind community to insist on
the implementation of this or a similar solution on all such autos. Now that
a concrete solution is available, we can act to ensure our safety. States
could enact legislation requiring the installation of an audible noise
making device on these vehicles in order to pass DMV inspections. The auto
insurance industry could also require such an installation on a car as a
condition of selling a policy to the driver.
The article entitled Lotus 'Safe & Sound' system makes hybrid, electric
vehicles audible can be found at,2000438541,339291235,00.htm

Due to the almost silent operation of hybrid and electric vehicles running
on electric power at slow speeds, blind and partially sighted pedestrians
may be at risk while crossing roads or walking through parking lots since
they cannot hear the vehicles as they approach.

Lotus Engineering, a name most commonly associated with lightweight sports
cars, has announced that it has developed a system to synthesise external
sound on electric and hybrid vehicles to make them more audible to
pedestrians and cyclists. A simulation of a real engine sound is used on
Lotus' Safe & Sound
Hybrid technology demonstrator vehicle, making it instantly recognisable
that the vehicle is in motion.

The demonstration vehicle is a Toyota Prius equipped to demonstrate the
sound synthesis application. The solution Lotus has devised is a
re-application and development of its Sound Synthesis technology, a suite of
technologies originally designed to reduce the amount of cabin noise in a
conventional motor vehicle by using active sound cancellation.

An artificial engine sound is played through a waterproof loudspeaker in the
car's nose, compensating for the lack of engine noise emitted by the vehicle
when running on an electric motor. Because it's just a speaker, Lotus can
make any sound they want, but they've stuck to using an existing engine
that makes the vehicle instantly recognisable, with the pitch and frequency
helping to identify its distance and speed. Front-facing speakers mean that
once the vehicle has passed, the sound is no longer heard.

In electric-only vehicles, the system is always on, but for hybrids the
system only operates when the vehicle is using electric power. If the
hybrid's engine starts operating – either at higher speeds, higher throttle
demands, or lower battery levels – the control system automatically stops
the external synthesis.
It is all completely automatic and, according to Lotus, the driver hears
almost none of the additional sound.

Categories: Uncategorized

Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 2 Is Now Available!

August 7, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

After much anticipation, and following the enormous success of Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 1, GW Micro is proud to announce the release of Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 2. Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 2 offers the latest advancements in screen reading technology, including full Unicode support, new scripting functionality, web browsing enhancements, a new synthesizer, and much more.

The success of Window-Eyes is solely dependent on users like you, who take the time to test out new features and enhancements. Thanks to everyone who participated with Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 1, we’ve been able to resolve many issues, and implement several features that did not make the first beta. Your continued feedback and support is invaluable, and greatly appreciated

Before installing Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 2, please note the following:

You must already have an existing copy of either Window-Eyes 6.1 or Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 1 installed (Retail, Demo, Evaluation, and Payment Plan versions are all supported) before installing Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 2. The beta install will not work if you are not running a version of Window-Eyes 6.1 or Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 1. If you are running an earlier version of Window-Eyes, prior to Window-Eyes 6.1, you will either need to upgrade to Window-Eyes 6.1, or uninstall your current version, and install a demonstration copy of Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 2. Once again, you must be running either Window-Eyes 6.1 or Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 1 before you can install Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 2.  If you have 7.0 Beta 1 installed there is no reason to uninstall it.

Read more about all of the features Window-Eyes 7.0 Beta 2 has to offer, and download your copy, at

Categories: Uncategorized

Seeking New JFW-Employment List Moderator

August 4, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker
I have just written the following note to the jfw-employment mailing list:
Hello Fellow List Members,
I am writing to seek a replacement for me as moderator of this list. Though it continues to be a valuable resource, this list is focused entirely on JAWS. I have shifted my focus away from all Freedom Scientific products, including their screen reader. I haven’t run JAWS once since July 18! Though I will stay on as a member, I wish to relinquish my moderatorship of this list as soon as possible. All offers are welcome to to take over.
Categories: Uncategorized