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New Portable Blind Reader

The National Federation of the Blind has teamed up with famed inventor Ray Kurzweil to develop the first portable reading device for the blind or for anyone who has difficulty reading printed material. The new device, called the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader, weighs less than one pound and fits in a knapsack, purse or small camera bag. The user simply holds the Reader over printed material and within seconds the device begins reading whatever print was on the page using a clear synthetic voice.

Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, says, "This device is truly revolutionary. As a blind person, one of my biggest challenges is dealing with the substantial amount of printed material I encounter throughout the day."

The key feature of this Reader is its portability. James Gashel, executive director for strategic initiatives at the National Federation of the Blind, explains, "Software has existed for some time that allows a user to scan documents into a personal computer and then have the computer read the material back. But with the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader, a person brings the machine to the material as opposed to bringing the material to the machine. The portability of this device increases opportunities for the blind like never before." Gashel, who is blind himself, says he regularly uses the device to read his mail, office memos, menus, ATM receipts, in-flight magazines and a host of labels in a multitude of settings. Regarding a recent business trip, he says, "I stopped at an airport restaurant and read the menu, read the receipt and paid the bill, all without sighted assistance."

Maurer concludes, "We live in the Information Age, and access to information is critical for success, whether at school, at work or at home."

The Reader works by taking a digital picture of the printed material. Special software contained within the device extracts the text from the picture, and the text is then read using a synthetic speech engine, which is also contained within the device. The Reader can be used with external speakers for extra volume or with ear buds for privacy. Files can be saved and then retrieved for later use.

The Reader retails for $3,495 and is available from the National Federation of the Blind with a $200 introductory discount.

www.nfb.org

877.708.1724

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