Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Frank Audiodata: Electronic Aids for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Frank Audiodata is a German company that manufactures a number of products for the blind community. They make a stand alone reader called the LeseFix 2000 and a portable CCTV magnifier called the E-mag, but most of their products are aimed at making personal computers accessible.

The heart of Frank Audiodata's PC products is their patented TASO® system. TASO stands for "Tactile-Acoustic Screen Orientation." This system allows a blind user to directly interact with graphic elements on a computer screen. Using sliders to move the on-screen focus horizontally and vertically from element to element, the user is advised of the screen content by means of sound cues: an empty line produces a high-pitched tone, the cursor is identified with a low-pitched tone, and text has a medium pitch. Speech, braille, or large print outputs "follow" the focus to provide content to the user.

AudioBraille is a desktop device for stationary PC workstations. It has a braille display in front of a regular computer keyboard, and the TASO® control panel is located to the left: slider, keypad, and volume controls for the built-in speaker. The braille display can be switched between 6- and 8-point braille and has an automatic shut-off: unless the user has her hands in position, it deactivates to reduce noise and prolong the useful life of the braille cells. You can choose between an 84-cell and a 44-cell display area.

AudioBraille comes with Blindows®- software that allows TASO® to interface with the Windows and DOS operating systems. The newest version of Blindows®, version 2, is compatible with Windows 98/ME/2000.

Frank Audiodata has also created Generation 2000, a suite of devices for either stationary or portable computer systems. All four of these products connect with your computer via USB ports and are supported by the Blindows® software.

  1. The CeBox. This is the TASO® command center. The ten digit keypad, volume controls, vertical slider, built-in speaker, and built-in microphone are housed in a unit about the size of a television remote control.
  2. Braille Display B2K-44. This is a 44-cell, portable braille display that features an integrated TASO® column slider. It also can be used without the CeBox as a regular braille display unit. The unit measures about 15 inches long by 4.5 inches wide and can be easily transported with any laptop computer. The is powered through the USB connection with your PC.
  3. Braille Display B2K-84. This is the 84-cell big brother to the B2K-44. Designed for stationary applications, this unit has its own power supply. Like the B2K-44, the B2K-84 has a TASO® slider and can be used simply as a braille display.
  4. The QS2K Column Slider. This device is for the user who wants the TASO® horizontal slider but doesn't want a braille display. Combined with the CeBox command unit, the QS2K gives you the speed and accuracy of the TASO® system.

To find a distributor near you, visit the Frank Audiodata Website listed below.

Frank Audiodata
Kreigstrasse 13-15
Oberhausen-Rhsn., D-68794
Phone: +49-7254-5050
Fax: +49-7254-5579

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