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Disability Action Center NW

Help in the Workplace and Home for Visually Impaired and Aging

By Disaboom Staff

By Disaboom Staff

By Disaboom Staff

You don’t have to be visually impaired to have trouble reading labels, newspapers, menus and instructions. The problem might be that you are over 40. It’s extremely frustrating; especially when you really do need to read the fine print and a magnifying glass is nowhere to be found. For the visually impaired, it’s frustrating to be in a work environment, and have to ask for help. That’s what happened to Maurie Hill, who works for Ai Squared, a maker of visually-impaired assistive technology. Sitting at her desk waiting for a document to print she instead heard a “beep-beep” from the copy/printer machine alerting
her to a paper jam. Now, for anyone who could read the LCD screen, they would know to open the draw on the right and pull out the jammed paper, clear the machine and press the start button. But Maurie is visually-impaired and couldn’t see the screen. That was before the ZoomReader iPhone App. Today, Maurie uses her IPhone 4 App to take a picture of the screen, and then listens to a voice-activated message instructing her how to clear the jam.

Doug Hacker, Vice President of Business Development for Ai Squared told Disaboom that the new iPhone App, ZoomReader, is the latest technology from the company who for over 20 years has been the global leader of assistive technology for the visually-impaired. “This new product can take a picture of what you are looking at, and using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Technology and Text-to-Speech Technology, convert the letters in the image to actual text and then read that text back to you.” Doug continued, “And what’s really useful is that it is convenient and portable. Most people have their cellular phones with them at all times. There are other products that do similar things but they cost up to $1,000. What we are trying to do with the iPhone App is make the solutions mainstream and affordable and not something you have to go outside your normal world to buy.”

Disaboom is particularly interested in new products that allow people with disabilities to return to the workforce, or help those who are already working advance in their careers. We believe that assistive technology is the key. So we asked Doug
Hacker what else Ai Squared was doing in this area.

“Ai Squared’s flagship product, ZoomText and other products we make such as our large print keyboard are getting people back to work,” answered Doug. “Turns out that visually impairment is one of the easiest disabilities to “solve” in the workplace. We see people who use our technology being 100% as effective in their job as those who don’t need the assistive technology. Interestingly, there have been studies done that show that people who need assistive technology in the work place, have more retention than other people. They have better morale because they value their position in the workplace. We see the ZoomReader iPhone App being an extension.” Hacker continued, “People with visual impairment want to do all the same things other people want to do. With the technology we have on hand, we can make those things possible.”

If you would like a chance to win a ZoomReader, you must own an iPhone4. Please send your name, address, email address, and age to We will draw the winning entry on May 2, 2011.