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October 28, 1989 - Image 59

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-10-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Left: A computer with a special
keypad allows people with limited
hand or arm mobility to operate it.
Right: A Personal Reader takes
printed material and turns it into
synthetic speech. Photos courtesy
Clearing House for the Handicapped.

recovery, thereby increasing the
number of handicapped youngsters
and young adults.
Even with this expanding disabled
population, business does not re-
spond to the handicapped consumer
the same way it does to other markets.
There are no special boutiques for the
handicapped at local department
stores or malls or discount outlets. The
fact is, it's still difficult for handicapped
and elderly consumers to find out
what's available and where. How much
is covered by Medicare? How much
does it cost? Who is going to adjust it
to fit me? Who is going to teach me
how it works? Who is going to repair
it if it breaks? The following will provide

Technology Transfer

A person with diabetes now can
hold a device in her hand to test her
own blood sugar level. The device,
a glucometer, calibrates and reports
test results in visual or auditory form,
stores 400 readings computing aver-
age high and average low blood
sugar levels and, when plugged in-
to a computer, can provide advice
from a computer software program
on how to achieve better blood sugar
control. This technology doesn't im-
prove on the practice of medicine; it
transforms it. The patient is respon-
sible for her wellness and indepen-
dence while the technology reduces
the risk for blindness, kidney failure
and other negative consequences of
"Products are getting smaller and
more reliable," explains Don Barrett
of Clearing House for the Handicap-
ped, part of the Office of Special
Education and Rehabilitative Ser-
vices in Washington, D.C.
As an example, he cites the Xerox/
Kurzweil Personal Reader, used by
people who are blind or visually im-
paired. The Personal Reader is an
optional scanner that reads printed


and typewritten material and turns it
into synthetic speech. It reads single
sheets or books and interfaces easily
with other computer devices. The
Personal Reader is compatible with
word processing, communications
and Braille conversion software
"Five years ago, before Xerox
bought it, this system was big — the
size of a refrigerator — and it cost
$50,000. Today, the system is portable
and costs about $10,000. It's just one
example of how circuit integration
putting more circuits on chips — has
allowed industry to improve products
while still making them smaller and
easier to handle," Barrett says.

The optacon is another device in
which newer models are smaller and
more advanced than earlier models.
A blind or visually impaired person
uses the optacon by holding it in his
hand and running it over a printed
page. The device's camera takes im-
ages of the printed word and trans-
lates it into the spoken word via a
voice machine. The device costs
about $3000.
To accelerate the transfer of tech-
nology originally designed for one
application to create products for the
handicapped, the U.S. Congress
recently mandated the Technology
Utilization Program in the National
Aeronautics and Space Administra-

FALL '89


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