Walk through any airport, or coffee shop in a
downtown location and you’ll find business professionals using small handheld
computer to organize their day, take notes, send and receive emails and surf
the web. Until now, blind Canadians have had to rely on specially built
devices to perform the same sorts of tasks, and because these devices were
specialty items and not mass-produced, they were prohibitively expensive.

Today, Aroga, Canada’s leading distributor of assistive technology for
people with visual impairments is pleased to announce the availability of
Mobile Speak Pocket, a software package that will now provide blind and
visually impaired Canadians access to standard Pocket PC devices running
Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, and Windows Mobile 5.0 software. This
includes devices from major manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Fujitsu and

Mobile Speak Pocket provides spoken feedback from the handheld computer’s
internal sound card, reading information from the device back to the user.
Using the speech output users can access the same applications that a sighted
user would utilize for email, web browsing, chatting with online friends,
listening to audio or video files, recording or taking written notes, and many
other tasks.

The software program was developed by Code Factory, a company founded in
1998 in Barcelona, Spain. Code Factory is a leading developer of software for
people who are blind or visually impaired. In the past they have developed
video games for the blind, and products that provide speech feedback for the
menus of cellular phones.

Mobile Speak Pocket has been widely hailed in the visually impaired and
blind community as a breakthrough.

“This is a tremendous step forward in terms of access to mainstream
technology,” said Steven Barclay, VP of Sales and Marketing for Aroga. “For
years blind Canadians have had to rely on specialized devices to perform tasks
that many of us take for granted. Not only will Mobile Speak Pocket reduce the
cost to end-users, but this also is a major step forward in terms of what
people will be able to do with these devices.”

“Anyone can now go to their local electronics retailer, and pick up a
compatible device. The software can be downloaded via an Internet connection
and activated by a code which we can supply by email or telephone. This sort
of instant access has never been available before for this kind of device.”

The software will also continue to be developed and will ultimately be
able to provide access to other types of software that run on these devices
such as Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technologies. Blind users will be
able to navigate throughout a city with the assistance of directions provided
by their hand held device.

Mobile Speak Pocket is available in both French and English through
Aroga’s three regional offices in Vancouver, Edmonton and Montreal, and will
also be made available through authorized resellers across the country.