Microsoft and Pulse Data Team Up for the Blind

Microsoft Corp. signed an agreement with Pulse Data International Ltd. that will provide the visually impaired with easy access to thousands of new and existing electronic books.

Pulse Data, a specialist in enabling access to information for the visually impaired, will collaborate with Microsoft in delivering a blind-friendly interface for eBooks created for Microsoft Reader.

Microsoft Reader software will be integrated with Pulse Data’s BrailleNote, a family of screenless personal data assistants based on the Microsoft Windows CE operating system that offer feedback through speech and electronic Braille.

“We at Microsoft have a dream that people with visual impairments will have access to books and literature at the same time and with the same availability as sighted readers,” says Janine Harrison, group program manager of Microsoft Reader. “This collaboration is a wonderful step in making that dream a reality.”

Jim Halliday, president of HumanWare Inc., the North American distributor of BrailleNote, is thrilled about the possibilities for the technology. “The implications are enormous. With the integration of BrailleNote and Microsoft Reader, blind schoolchildren will be able to read the same eBooks as their sighted classmates, and blind people will have virtually instant access to literally thousands of titles that would take months or years to create through traditional paper Braille publishing.”

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