September 20, 2019

JAWS Convenient OCR is Here!

Today Freedom Scientific today announced the release of JAWS® for Windows version 13, including Convenient OCR. By performing Optical Character Recognition on text that is displayed in a graphic, blind computer users are now able to access such things as scanned-in posters and other such graphical images that might as well have been a blank page before. JAWS can even allow finding and clicking on control links and buttons that were once hidden, even, believe it or not, the menu of a DVD!

Another new feature for JAWS 13 is Results Viewer, which displays the results of  features like Research It. According to the Freedom Scientific press release, the new interface “enables faster navigation with Navigation Quick Keys and switching to other windows without losing the results of your lookup. Sports scores have returned to Research It and are easier to navigate than ever before. The INSERT+V keystroke now opens the new Quick Settings, which replaces Adjust JAWS Options and matches the easy-to-use Settings Center style interface introduced last year in JAWS 12.”

“This release represents a huge step in accessibility for screen reader users,” says Eric Damery, Vice President of Software Product Management for Freedom Scientific. “Whether trying to identify and read inaccessible PDF documents that are just scanned images or interacting with graphical controls that could not previously be located, the new Convenient OCR option built into JAWS 13 has been described as a real game changer. JAWS 13 is also packed with other features and enhancements that have been selected and designed to improve access and ease of use for all users.”

The upgrade is an SMA release and can be downloaded as either a 32-bit or 64-bit version from the JAWS downloads page. DVD shipments to SMA holders and new product customers will commence on Nov 1, 2011.”

Source: JAWS 13

Jaws 13 Will Include Integrated OCR

Freedom Scientific announced that version 13 of the popular Jaws screen reader will be available as a public beta next week. According to Eric Damery of Freedom Scientific, anyone will be able to download and install the beta during this period. A response form will be provided on the Jaws HQ web site for reporting bugs and other problems. The official release is expected in late October or early November.

The most exciting new feature in Jaws 13 is built-in OCR (optical character recognition). This feature, called convenient OCR, is designed to read text contained in graphical images not normally readable by Jaws. It will help solve the common problem encountered when the bank or utility company presents account information online in graphical form. The text hidden in the image can be read using regular Jaws navigation commands. Convenient OCR will also read those annoying PDF files that contain scanned images instead of text.

Jaws 13 will include a number of other useful enhancements including simplified commands for reading tables and a redesigned user configuration facility called quick settings. There is also expanded Aria support for Internet Explorer 9 and Firefox. Another very nice addition to the Internet Explorer support is web site specific search history. Search keywords previously entered for a particular web site can be quickly retrieved and recycled in new searches.

We are looking forward to the new features and performance enhancements coming in Jaws 13 and we think that Convenient OCR is a giant step forward in screen reader functionality. It is important to note that although Convenient OCR provides groundbreaking support for reading text contained in graphical images, it will not allow the text to be copied or saved. Freedom Scientific stated that they could not get this feature ready in time for the release. It seems to us, as outside observers, that it would be just as easy to display the translated text in the new results viewer as it is to output it to the voice synthesizer. It is our hope that Freedom Scientific will be able to include this functionality in the future.

Source: FSCast Episode 58

PLEXTALK PTP1 DAISY Book Reader Puts Everything in Your Pocket

Photo of a white and a black PLEXTALKThe PLEXTALK Pocket PTP1 is smaller than most cell phones, yet it is packed with powerful potential—everything you would want in a digital book reader, plus a few great features you may not have known were possible. It supports all of the popular book formats, including NLS/BARD, Book Share, Learning Ally, and Audible. It has integrated support for Microsoft Word files, encoded Braille, HTML, and plain text using the built-in speech synthesizer. The big difference between the PLEXTALK Pocket and other digital book readers and music players is its compact size (approximately four by two inches, or ten by five centimeters), outstanding recording capability, and built in wireless network access features.

Before we look at the amazing new wireless features, let’s examine the unique recording and playback capabilities. The PLEXTALK Pocket will play back audio in MP3, WAV, WMA, OGG, and AMR WB+ formats. It is easy to navigate through the files using the keypad and arrow keys and enhanced navigation support is provided for DAISY titles. You can also set bookmarks and optionally record annotations and it will remember your last reading position for up to one thousand books.

The quality of recordings made with the PLEXTALK Pocket is some of the best we have heard. There are two recording modes. The long format, or main recording mode, using the internal microphone, an external microphone, or a line-in from another device, saves recordings to the SD card. This mode is suitable for recording lectures or other live events.

The short format is for recording “voice memos.”  These recordings can be up to one minute long and are stored in MP3 32 kbps mono format. Since they are stored in the PLEXTALK Pocket’s internal memory, voice memos remain with the PLEXTALK Pocket even if you change SD cards. There is enough internal memory to hold about thirty minutes of recorded memos.

The PLEXTALK Pocket has some unique features for controlling the recording. You can monitor the recording using earphones and receive periodic audible feedback about the recording input level. You can either start a new recording or append to an existing one and select from either automatic or manual gain control. Of particular interest is the DAISY recording feature that allows you to set index heading levels from one through six during recording or playback and later use them to navigate through the recording using any DAISY reader. You can edit your recordings using the selective delete function of the PLEXTALK Pocket or the included PRS Pro DAISY editing software.

We think the best feature of the PLEXTALK Pocket is the wireless networking. Once you establish a wireless connection to your router, you can access some pretty exciting features. You can listen to a variety of streaming Internet radio stations through one of the best speakers we have heard on any portable reader. It is easy to select a station from the list provided or to add your own favorite stations. And, both MP3 and WMA stream types are supported.

We really like the podcast download support and consider this to be reason enough to get a PLEXTALK Pocket. You can edit and maintain a list of your favorite podcasts and select new episodes to download as they become available. Episodes download in the background so you can do other things, like read a book or listen to another podcast. The PLEXTALK Pocket will automatically keep track of the podcasts you have heard and show any new ones that are published. Finally, you can use wireless networking to connect your PLEXTALK Pocket to your computer instead of fumbling for the right USB cable. (This is a nice bonus for those of us who tend to misplace our cables.)

We were interested in the PLEXTALK Pocket when it was first introduced but the new wireless support and a special sale price from Freedom Scientific put us over the top. It gets a strong five robots rating from us and it will get a big work out during the coming school year. If you would like to learn more about the PLEXTALK Pocket, Jonathon Mosen of Freedom Scientific has produced a very nice podcast demonstrating its myriad functions and features in detail at the FScast website.