Seeing the light
CNIB clients get latest technology

by Marty Brown
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 05/97) - Northern blind or visually impaired people no longer have travel to Edmonton to get the latest in reading technology. Access to the printed word is now available in Yellowknife.

The Canadian Institute for the Blind office has the software and hardware to allows clients to access five customized media: speech, print enlargement, optical character regimentation (a scanner), screen enhancement and an alternate format which prints in braille.

That means visually impaired people can pursue education, recreation or work with this technology.

"Say for instance a blind person gets a memo from his boss," Corey said."He puts it on the scanner and it shows up enlarged, on a computer screen and a simulated voice reads it aloud."

The client can then edit it and send it back.

Last month James Ragee from Cape Dorset spent a month in the CNIB office using the equipment to prepare himself for upgrading at Vancouver Community College.

Besides the computer equipment, he packed a four-track tape recorder, a braille typewriter and a talking calculator, all of which prepared him to become a student just like anyone else.

"If the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs hadn't come up with $16,000, James would have had to spend the time in Edmonton instead of here," Corey said.

The equipment costs about $20,000.

There are 200 CNIB clients in the Northwest Territories who will be able to access the equipment without going South. And that's above the national average, Corey said.

Accidents are the major cause of blindness in the North.