HumanWare Launch SmartView Xtend

SmartView Xtend and development team

HumanWare has just launched the new SmartView Xtend, an outstanding new video magnifier for people with low vision.

The SmartView Xtend has been carefully designed to offer people with macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or other eye conditions, increased flexibility and additional functionality. By magnifying and enlarging text, objects, and actions, the SmartView Xtend makes everyday activities like viewing photos, reading labels, browsing through a magazine, writing cheques, and doing crosswords, easy once again.

Unlike most other video magnifiers, where customers have to choose between different models, there is only one SmartView Xtend base model, but it can be upgraded, at any time, using one of three Xtend modules.

An Xtend module is an upgrade pack that adds more functionality to the base unit. Each module includes a range of different features - lines and blinds, an enhanced page-locator, precise zoom control, user-preset magnification, and more - all designed to meet the specific requirements of our customers, as they need them.

Being completely upgradeable means that the SmartView Xtend protects your investment, and is always the video magnifier customers want and need it to be.

A basic black and white model can be upgraded into a full colour model and, if required, can even be upgraded to connect with a PC, a feature our more advanced users often request.

Each SmartView Xtend module has been designed to fit specific customer needs, identified through extensive research undertaken using people with low vision, and with a variety of video magnifiers. Studying users’ backgrounds and their daily routines, and closely monitoring how they use video magnifiers, we have been able to develop a new product that is truly unique.

Many design and functional aspects of the SmartView Xtend were a direct result of the usability testing. One example is the newly designed remote control. Users can position the remote where it is most comfortable for them and easily perform tasks such as increasing or lowering the magnification of their text, without having to reach out to find buttons on the front panel of their video magnifier. This research reflects our commitment to understanding our customers’ requirements, and ultimately being able to develop products that are not only innovative and intuitive, but also designed to best meet customers’ needs. See SmartView Xtend at your nearest progressive HumanWare dealer, or phone us direct on (02) 9686 2600 to experience the next advance in Low Vision solutions.

Introducing Samatha Crooke – HumanWare’s New Brisbane Based Consultant

To serve our Queensland clients we have just appointed Samantha Crooke as our Brisbane based consultant.

Samatha comes to HumanWare with a wealth of skill and experience, having worked in the optical industry for 20 years as an optical dispenser, lens consultant, trainer and marketer. She has a depth of understanding of the requirements of people with low vision. Her warm and friendly nature, coupled with her professionalism will make dealing with her a pleasure.

She will soon become a familiar face to our clients & can be contacted by email at: or by phone on (07) 5497 7767.

KeySoft V7x Software Now Available

HumanWare is proud to announce the release of two new KeySoft versions for BrailleNote and VoiceNote mPower, BrailleNote PK, plus the BrailleNote and VoiceNote Classic.

Features include:

  • The new KeyBase database application
  • An improved KeyPlus Scientific Calculator which includes fractions and support for Z-code Interactive Fiction for all models
  • Keyboard emulation for JAWS
  • The addition of the audio recorder for BrailleNote PK
  • Bluetooth support for the Remote Synthesiser, Braille Terminal and Visual display features
  • An FM radio
  • The addition of Eloquence speech for BrailleNote and VoiceNote mPower

Now it's time for the part we like best, where we put all this new functionality in the hands of our users. With different versions of KeySoft for the various models, it's important to get yourself up and running in the shortest amount of time.

We have created a web site for all things related to KeySoft. On this web site, you will find the upgrade instructions for your particular type of BrailleNote or VoiceNote, a link to the product key download site, links to the actual software you should install, an audio tutorial in MP3, the JAWS keyboard emulator software, a new version of KeySync, and the Palm Bluetooth visual display software.

This site can be found at If you take the time to explore this site, most people will find everything they need to get up and running with KeySoft V7.

A Good Line

A truck driver was driving along on the freeway. A sign comes up that reads "Low Bridge Ahead." Before he knows it, the bridge is right ahead of him and he gets stuck under the bridge. Cars are backed up for miles. Finally, a police car comes up. The cop gets out of his car and walks to the truck driver, puts his hands on his hips and says, "Got stuck, huh?" The truck driver says, "No, I was delivering this bridge and ran out of gas."

BrailleNote User Story

“We have used Braille all our lives. We learned to write with a frame and style, then a Stainsby. After that came the Perkins, many years passed ...

We heard about Eureka, Aria, Braille'n'speak, Braille Lite and more time passed ...then, one day, Ramona sent us an email with information about this "New BrailleNote mPower!" What an innovation! Did I hear a "so what" from someone? Did someone say, "What's all the fuss?"

Well, it's this! A simple, really nice to hold sort of friendly little machine,in this lovely, very functional carry case. The Braille's beautiful and the keyboard's great too! Really responsive! It's easy-to-use with quick help from anywhere! Word processing's a breeze for creating, editing and saving your document. There's heaps of storage capability. The email and Internet access is nice and sensible!

There's the memo option too, where you can record and replay messages from just about anywhere. Great if you're in a hurry. You just press the button located on the side of the mPower, make your recording, then with a keystroke, play it back. We made a "family day" recording, just 15 minutes, saved it to a compact flash card then played it back through the PC's speakers for a really boomy sound. We could also have saved it to a secure digittal (SAID) card or a memory stick using one of the USB ports or just played the recording through the mPower itself, with or without headphones.

We haven't even had a chance to tackle the myriad of new features yet ... but we will!”

Carol and Graeme McGowan

HumanWare and Code Factory Announce Distribution Agreement for Mobile Speak Pocket and Mobile Magnifier

Photo of Mobile Speak Pocket

The HumanWare Group of Christchurch New Zealand, and Code Factory of Barcelona Spain, have announced that they have entered into a partnership to bring access to Pocket PC and PDA Phone devices to blind people in HumanWare's largest markets.

The agreement means that HumanWare has become the exclusive master distributor for Mobile Speak Pocket, and the soon to be released Mobile Magnifier, in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. HumanWare can also offer these products to customers in the UK and Canada.

"We're delighted to be able to offer this exciting product to customers", says Jonathan Mosen, who will be Product Marketing Manager for Mobile Speak Pocket at HumanWare. “We aim to offer a variety of quality blindness products to meet the needs of our customers, ranging from products that provide a completely blindness-specific experience through to solutions that empower people to make the most of off-the-shelf technology. With Mobile Speak Pocket and Mobile magnifier, we have the best product in the industry to meet the needs of those who wish to purchase off-the-shelf PDAs and run Pocket PC applications such as Pocket Word, Pocket Outlook, Pocket Excel, Pocket messenger, the Audible Player, Pocket Skype and more. We'll be bundling Mobile Speak Pocket with a range of hardware, including some exciting new Braille technology to be announced shortly."

This announcement is particularly significant for customers of cellular networks using the CDMA standard.

" Blind people have had good access to some GSM-based hardware for some time, but those who wish to use networks like Sprint, Telecom New Zealand and Verizon did not have a truly accessible option until the arrival of Mobile Speak Pocket. Now, blind people have as much choice in terms of their cellular provider as do the sighted."

Jonathan Mosen emphasised that Mobile Speak Pocket is an addition to the existing products offered by HumanWare, and that all current HumanWare products remain under very active development.

HumanWare Launches Maestro 2.0, the New Generation of PDA for Blind People

Photo of Maestro 2.0

At the end of June HumanWare released Maestro 2.0, an enhanced version of the mainstream PDA for the visually impaired with a multitude of new functions, including a Wi-Fi e-mail manager, a media player for music and audio books, and a task manager.

Designed to address the needs of computer literate users looking for a highly portable or less pricy productivity tool, Maestro consists of a standard Dell PDA with a tactile overlay allowing people to use commands and enter data intuitively by touch. The information is sent to users in audio form using integrated voice synthesis.

“Typical Maestro users are middle aged professionals, they travel frequently and have to deal with multiple appointments. With Version 2.0, Maestro is the most comprehensive and most accessible solution on the market as a standard PDA adapted for the blind,” says Lucia Gomez, Product Manager.

The main enhancements to Maestro 2.0 are listed below:

  • Full E-mailing Capability: users can now read, forward, reply, transfer and create e-mail messages, and attach files, using either ActiveSync or a Wi-Fi network.
  • Enhanced Media Player: allows users to read MP3 and WMA books, offers the capability of reading audio files in shuffle or repeat mode, marking a place, resume, setting a sleep timer and fast positioning (incremental or one minute forward and rewind). It also supports play lists.
  • Task Management: users can create and manage tasks, and synchronise them with Outlook on their PC’s.
  • Calendar, Victor Reader, Text Notes and Many Other Enhancements: includes a Today’s page, improvements in popular applications, such as variable speed in Victor Reader, choice of views in the Calendar, better support of scanned documents in the Text Notes, formatting tool for the memory cards, support of a second language, and many others features.
  • Full E-mailing Capability: users can now read, forward, reply, transfer and create e-mail messages, and attach files, using either ActiveSync or a Wi-Fi network

Call Anthony or Ramona to find out more.

VoiceNote User Story

Early last year I purchased a VoiceNote Classic because I wanted to be more independent in looking after my own affairs.

I have to say that I didn't realise just how much this little machine would change my life. In the past, computers and I did not get along. I couldn't grasp the technology, and what's more I didn't really want to.

The day I received the unit I was able to pick it up and use it, simply by reading the manual. I needed no tuition at all.

I'm now in charge of all my own emailing, correspondence, invoicing, and I'm even Secretary of a national committee. I am able to produce a high standard of written work as good as anyone else can produce. I still marvel at what I can achieve with a little machine like the VoiceNote, which you can use on your knee and carry with you wherever you go. So much so, that I think its now time to upgrade to an mPower. Thank you Humanware.

Jenny Dawson

Brailliant User Story

Photo of Brailliant braille display

The Brailliant has a combination of features that distinguish it from most, if not all, other Braille displays. It is highly portable, offers flexibility by allowing USB, Serial and Bluetooth (wireless) connections to host computers, and the battery can be charged via the USB cable or an external power adapter.

I connected the Brailliant to my laptop computer, which runs the Linux operating system with the excellent BRLTTY Braille display software maintained by Dave Mielke and other committed software developers around the world. The Brailliant was recognized immediately and worked flawlessly.

The software even detected when the Braille display was shut down, either as a result of being switched off or due to a period of inactivity. As soon as I turned the device back on, the software detected this and I was able to continue to work with it as though no interruption had occurred. I love technology that operates exactly as advertised!”

Jason White

Vision Australia News

SmartView Xtend and development team

Writing for the Web Workshops

These practical workshops run by VA focus on enhancing the usability and accessibility of web content and will teach designers how to communicate effectively. The September workshop dates are:

Melbourne – 4th September

Sydney – 6th September

Perth – 20th September

Registration details:

A Web Accessibility Workshop is also planned for Brisbane on the 5th September

For further details contact Tania Conlan at Vision Australia

ViewPlus Introduces Emprint

Photo of ViewPlus Emprint

ViewPlus Technologies (a world leading manufacturer of embossing technology) has announced the release of Emprint, the world's first Braille printer that embosses Braille with the equivalent colour ink. The ability to print Braille and ink in a single-pass will allow people with visual impairments and sighted people to communicate more effectively in the classroom and workplace.

As more Braille readers join the mainstream, the need for communication between sighted and blind people grows. Emprint allows Braille documents to be shared amongst sighted colleagues and teachers by printing the corresponding ink characters above or beside the Braille.

Anything that is seen on a computer screen is printed quickly in Braille and colour ink, together or separately. People who are blind can print Braille for their personal use and an ink version for their sighted colleagues. Using a single printer saves them valuable workspace and money.


"With our limited resources and space, a printer that doubles as both a Braille printer and typical ink printer is the perfect solution," states Jerry Kuns. "More than anything I like the fact that Emprint creates raised, colour graphics usable by all our students."


People with low-vision and others who may not read Braille can also use the tactile and ink features for better comprehension of spatial material. Adding colour to a raised image makes materials, like tactile maps or diagrams, more engaging for low-vision and learning disabled students. Studies have shown that a combined tactile and visual/colour interface makes a stronger connection with the brain than vision alone, improving the learning process.

Emprint uses the familiar interface of Microsoft Office to create Braille and ink documents that can be printed in a single-pass. Braille text can be printed in a wide variety of languages. Ink text can be printed in any size, colour or font the user chooses. Tactile graphics, like maps and bar charts, are printed with raised lines and color ink. The height of raised lines & objects is determined by their visual equivalent: the darker the colour or shade, the higher the relief in that area.

The ink cartridges and paper used in the printer can be found at any local office supply store. The types of paper can range from normal copy paper to traditional weight Braille paper.

Emprint is available for less than $8,500 & includes: printer, ink & Braille translation software.

For more information on Emprint or any of the other Tiger Embossers, call Ramona or Anthony on (02) 9686 2600.

myReader User Story

Photo of myReader

Scott Freeman,our Low Vision Consultant in Melbourne, received the following note from a happy client (Kay B.) who wanted to share her good news:

“The myReader unit you provided for my mother has been so successful that I wanted to provide a testimonial, which could hopefully be used to assist other prospective purchasers.

My 97 year old mother last year suffered severe macular degeneration which prevented her from reading. This was a major set-back for her as for some years it has been her sole activity – often reading a book each day.

The myReader we purchased from you constitutes the best purchase we could have made for mum. It has restored her quality of life and as a consequence has lifted her spirits greatly. The training and after sales service you provided have also been absolutely first rate.

We are well pleased with myReader and would be pleased to speak with any prospective clients who may require some reassurance.

Buy and Sell (by clients)

Wanted to buy: Second hand KeyNote with Qwerty Keyboard. Please call Bruce Whitney, Katoomba, NSW on (02) 4782 3991 or email him at:

For Sale: SmartView 5000 with 17-inch CRT Monitor, in great condition, wanting $3,500 O.N.O.

Contact Trevor Chappell on (02) 4368 6787 (NSW Central Coast