Dolphin Newsletter - May 2006
- Exciting Prize Draw Competition!
- From Steve Palmer and Noel Duffy.
- More accessibility for PDAs with Pocket Hal.
- Maurice benefits from a talking PDA and Pocket Hal.
- Development & Product News.
- Sales News.
- Staff News.
- Editor's Note:
We are re-launching our website later this year and are looking for product reviews and testimonials from existing users of each product in the Dolphin range. If you think you could write a few words about your experiences and your opinion of the Dolphin software you use then please put it in an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org remembering to state which programme your review applies to.
All submissions will be considered for use on the website and we will automatically enter you into a free prize draw to win a full copy of Dolphin Producer, which will quickly and easily convert text files into full text and audio DAISY books, and can be played back on Dolphin's EaseReader (which is included with Dolphin Producer), or any other DAISY hardware or software player, as well as any regular mp3 player.
We look forward to receiving your submissions today!
It's been a month since our return from CSUN and the developers have come back inspired to get Pocket Hal released. Last year the Dolphin Pen created a great deal of excitement and had throngs of people flocking to the booth, drawn by word of mouth. This year Pocket Hal created the storm when, at the first conference session on the opening day, the fire regulation people were summoned to remove some of the delegates from the conference hall, as excessive numbers were causing a fire hazard. It didn't stop there; disgruntled delegates flooded into the hallways and caused an even bigger problem. As the conference progressed the exhibition stand was inundated with people keen to learn more about Pocket Hal and its scheduled release date.
The remit for Pocket Hal, given to the developers by our marketing guys, was to develop a product that in addition to satisfying the productivity needs of historic note taker device users, could take advantage of all the exciting activity going on in the PDA domain; as one of our team said at a strategy meeting "let's move this from a back pack to pocket pack". Not tactful, but the underlying message is to bring the industry into the mainstream where independence and mobility is the norm and if somebody wants to have their access device with them at all times: while they walk on the hills; or to get access to a train timetables; or to work while they're waiting for a train or plane, it's no longer beyond their expectation.
To achieve this we realised we needed a full screen reader to ensure the user had access to the maximum number of PDA applications both now and in the future. Although it's been quite a challenge to integrate screen access on to a PDA and get it to work intuitively (this has involved lots of ease of use testing), the developers have enjoyed it and have brought every one of Dolphin's twenty years' experience in screen reader design to bear on the outcome. The final product due for release in a few weeks time will be primarily a productivity device but flexible and modular, with all the benefits that being associated with the mainstream brings. Every time a new version of supported hardware such as the PDAs or supported Braille devices are released, a Pocket Hal customer will be able to upgrade to that hardware, without having to upgrade all the components. The impact of a more flexible and modular approach will be a much reduced total cost of ownership over the life of the product. Furthermore Pocket Hal is a variation on our desk top product, supported by much of the same code. Consequently each time we upgrade the desktop version, the PDA version will also benefit in terms of added functionality.
Finally, Pocket Hal will be released with a simple wizard to support easy learning of both the PDA, which may be new to potential customers, as well as the screen reader. Also, the key presses will be familiar to our Hal desktop customers. Like in Hal for the desktop, we also have alternative key press configurations to support users of some of the other better known desktop screen readers to help make the learning transition for all new users as easy as possible.
The latest version of Dolphin Producer is also due for release with page numbering. This was a heavily requested feature amongst US universities. Dolphin EaseReader is also scheduled for release. Amongst many new features is word highlighting which was specifically requested by the people at BookShare.
We'd also like to draw attention to a series of summer conferences on alternative formats, run in partnership with RNIB, BDA, Jisc TechDis and SKILL, for professionals working in higher and further education. For more information see www.altformat.com.
Pocket Hal v7 for Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) will be released in English & Swedish this month - the main difference between v6.53 and v7 is compatibility with the Windows Mobile 5 operating system. Other important changes include support for Grade 2 Braille input and output in German, Dutch and English and support for a choice of Bluetooth Braille devices from all the leading manufacturers.
The release of Pocket Hal v7 also brings with it the release of Pocket Hal in other languages, notably German, Dutch, French, Italian and all languages where Supernova and Hal are available. Pocket Hal will be launched in Germany at Sight City May 17-19th and in France at Autonomic June 5-7th.
Why Choose Pocket Hal?
- Get more from your chosen mobile device
A PDA is a great solution for both students and professionals, in fact anyone who wants a truly pocket-sized notetaker or who wants to do more than make calls with their mobile phone.
- Get access to a wide choice of applications
Pocket applications enable you to keep working when you're away from your PC. Pocket Hal offers outstanding levels of productivity for users and works with more Pocket applications straight from the box than any other screen reader. Where unique and bespoke applications are used, Pocket Hal can be easily trained to provide speech and Braille access.
- Use the same hardware as everyone else.
Be part of the crowd. PDA users benefit from mass-market prices, and many upgrade their PDA as often as a mobile phone. Pocket Hal is flexible, so you can even upgrade your PDA while keeping the same software and Braille device.
As well as lower hardware costs, using the same devices as everyone else means data sharing is simple. Pocket Hal doesn't lock the touch screen or prevent pocket applications from running normally so your sighted friends can still check out your new PDA!
- Full choice of Braille devices
Braille notetakers have traditionally been bulky, expensive and some have been difficult to synchronise with mainstream data. The new generation of pocket-sized Bluetooth Braille displays now available from all leading manufacturers means that those who prefer to use Braille can pick and choose their Braille model independently of their PDA. Pocket Hal is compatible with all the latest Bluetooth Braille devices.
- Designed for all screen reader users
It doesn't matter which screen reader is used on your PC, Pocket Hal is designed to make the Windows Mobile environment as easy to use as possible for visually impaired PC users. Users are able to select from a range of different hotkeys, so they can continue to use their preferred hotkey shortcuts.
- Peace of mind
With 20 years experience in developing screen readers, you can be sure of the quality of Dolphin's software and support, and with an extensive highly trained dealer network, Dolphin is confident that you will quickly enjoy the benefits of Pocket Hal working on your chosen PDA. Pocket Hal comes with free lifetime technical support, as well as a 30 day full refund guarantee if you are dissatisfied with Pocket Hal for whatever reason, including the costs of any hardware purchased from Dolphin.
As a blind computer user, Maurice Press has always believed that he, and other blind and low vision computer users, should have exactly the same level of access to technology as that expected by sighted people. Now, for the very first time, Maurice has been able to enjoy the benefits of a PDA thanks to Pocket Hal, an innovative screen reader from Dolphin Computer Access.
Having wanted to experience the benefits of a PDA for some time, Maurice was excited to hear that Dolphin had developed a full screen reader that would work with a standard mass market PDA. Now he could go to his local computer store and buy the mainstream PDA of his choice, at mainstream prices, along with a bluetooth keyboard and headset, and enjoy exactly the same technology as his sighted colleagues. Maurice approached Dolphin and discussed his requirements and together they agreed the best package that would suit Maurice, which included a Fujitsu Loox PDA, an HP foldable keyboard and Pocket Hal.
Maurice comments; "I have always been delighted with all of the Dolphin products I have used, and was really pleased when I heard that they had developed a screen reader for standard PDAs. For the first time ever I have been able to use a PDA, just like anyone else. Using Pocket Hal on my PDA could not be easier, I can either use the PDA buttons or the bluetooth keyboard, to access my calendar, contacts, tasks, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and I have even used Skype for making telephone calls on my PDA. I have exactly the same levels of access to all of the standard PDA applications, as anyone else, and I can easily synchronise my PDA to my desktop PC for transferring data. I can now enjoy a pocket sized communications network, whenever and wherever I am. I no longer have to carry a laptop and large bag around with me, now I carry my computer in my pocket - perfect! Thank you Dolphin!"
Maurice Press is not the exception! Many blind and low vision computer users are now able to enjoy new levels of mobility and independence through accessible PDA technology. Now visually impaired computer users are able to choose from a complete range PDA devices from local stores at mainstream prices, and use Pocket Hal to make them talk.
Pocket Hal, providing mobile access for WM5 devices, is completing its beta test stage and is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
Dolphin's development team continues to look to the future of access technology, and is tackling such issues as access for Windows Vista and Windows Smartphone. Cicero also continues to receive development effort to improve operation, working with more scanners.
Version 2.06 of Dolphin Pronouncer, Dolphin's own synthesiser, is also being tested with our full range of access products, and now includes Hungarian and Romanian languages. The UK and US English voices are also being refined.
The first beta of version 2.30 of EaseReader, Dolphin's DAISY software player, is now released. Dolphin's product activation will be included in the next beta. The Dolphin Audio Publishing development team are also developing a much simpler installation for EaseReader.
The release candidate of Dolphin Producer v 1.03 is now released. Dolphin Producer will instantly create accessible DAISY books from Word documents, and is now widely used in schools and colleges across the UK. Work also continues on the release of EasePublisher v 2.10, which is planned to be released within the next two week.
German, French, Spanish and Norwegian language versions of Dolphin Producer 1.02 are now released, adding to the earlier English, Dutch and Swedish versions. Dolphin Tutor is now translated to Swedish and will be released in later in May.
The first quarter of 2006 has been an extremely busy time for everyone in sales at Dolphin. The deadline for some budgets to be spent combined with new releases from Dolphin have ensured we have all enjoyed speaking to as many customers as possible. I do hope that customers who took the time to call or email Dolphin where not inconvenienced by the slightly longer reply times?
A number of customers have made contact to understand the new 'Product activation' feature now inserted in to Cicero and Pocket Hal. This new concept for Dolphin involves a small step to activate Cicero after the installation has taken place. With product activation a prompt will appear the first time Cicero is started asking that the product be activated. Simply selecting the 'Activate now' button and then 'Internet connection' if you have a net connection will ensure the product is activated, for all users who have an internet connection. Should an Internet connect not be available please call your Dolphin reseller for an unlock code that is displayed when selecting the 'Manual Activation' button.
You have 30 days to activate Cicero and Pocket Hal and we have of cause made sure that all aspects of product activation remain in focus for magnification users and speak in full for speech users.
Special Needs Cardiff
Dolphin will be holding a Special Education Needs exhibition in Cardiff on Tuesday, 16th May at the Thistle Cardiff Hotel, 1 Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3UD. Admission is free and opening times are from 10am until 4pm. The exhibition will also include support from the Dyslexia Institute of Wales, AbilityNet, Optelec, ForceTen, Hagger, Enabling Computer Supplies and the Royal National College for the Blind, so visitors can get expert advice and information on the day.
Sight City 2006
Dolphin will also be attending the Sight City 2006 exhibition in Frankfurt. This is Germany's largest annual exhibition for people who are blind or visually impaired. The venue is the Sheraton Airport Frankfurt, and the show runs from May 17 - 19. If you plan to attend, please visit the Dolphin stand and see all of our latest product developments.
AltFormat - The Future of Accessible Learning
Dolphin is also supporting a series of one day conferences designed to help promote best practice in the delivery of accessible learning materials for the visually impaired and print impaired. In partnership with the Royal National Institute of the Blind and the British Dyslexia Association, the Altformat Conferences will highlight the needs and solutions for supporting visually impaired and print impaired students, and will be of special interest to disability officers, learning support staff, SENCO's, student assessors, ACCESS centre staff and professionals from further and higher education.
The conferences are free to attend and will be run at three different centres across the UK, on 5th, 6th and 7th June 2006. To find out more information about the Altformat Conferences and to register for a free place, please visit www.AltFormat.com
Dolphin is sorry to say good bye to Keith Lisle, who worked within the Technical Support department. Keith plans to spend some time travelling, before furthering his career outside of Dolphin.
Dolphin would also like to welcome back Diana Hiorth-Persson , after enjoying a period of maternity leave to look after her daughter Ebba. Diana returns to the Swedish office as the Software Development Manager.
This newsletter is produced by the Marketing Department. If you have any news, views or items for inclusion please email Marketing. Thank you.