Pulse Data and Benetech Announce BrailleNote/Bookshare Collaboration
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Christchurch, NZ / Palo Alto, CA / Concord, CA, February 24, 2003: Pulse Data International, the world's leading manufacturer of products designed for people who are blind and visually impaired, and Benetech®, the Silicon Valley technology nonprofit formerly known as Arkenstone, today announced a formal collaboration integrating Benetech's Bookshare® initiative with Pulse Data's BrailleNote family of products. Bookshare is a subscription service that provides an extensive online library of accessible digital books to U.S. residents with severe visual, reading and mobility disabilities. The BrailleNote Family is the first suite of Personal Data Assistants designed for persons who are blind. Since last September, the Windows-CE based KeyWeb Internet Browser has been integrated into the entire range of BrailleNote products.
This collaboration allows BrailleNote users with a Bookshare subscription to browse the Bookshare website using the BrailleNote, select one of the 12,000 books already available from this site and download it directly to the device. The user can then press enter on the downloaded book, and will be prompted for his Bookshare user name and password. The BrailleNote will then seamlessly unpack the downloaded book to the BrailleNote's bookreader to be read off-line. This unpacking scheme preserves the book's copyright protection.
This functionality was debuted by Pulse Data HumanWare CEO Jim Halliday on February 21 at the Vision Loss In the 21st Century Conference, which is sponsored by the American Foundation For the Blind. In his speech, Halliday stated, "Because of this new development by Pulse Data International and the tremendous service Benetech is providing with its Bookshare project, BrailleNote users can now have 12,000 Braille books available to them instantly. This is a long time dream come true for Braille readers." Jim Fruchterman, founder and CEO of Benetech, said, "Lowering barriers to book access is the core objective of Bookshare. By building access to our collection directly into a device like the BrailleNote, we make it possible for a blind person to carry around their own personal library in Braille!"
"This effort further illustrates Pulse Data's commitment to promote Braille literacy via portable, independent, seamless acquisition of electronic text by persons who are blind," states Larry Lewis, Product Marketing Manager for the BrailleNote. And Bookshare Senior Product Manager Alison Lingane notes, "Our goal is to make access to the wide collection of books from Bookshare as seamless as possible for our members. This collaboration is a dramatic move to support Braille readers."
In celebration of the partnership, Pulse Data HumanWare is offering a $100 discount to all Bookshare subscribers who purchase a BrailleNote or a VoiceNote, while Benetech is offering new Bookshare members who purchase a new BrailleNote/VoiceNote or upgrade $25 off the purchase of an annual subscription to Bookshare's rapidly growing collection of accessible digital books.
The Benetech Initiative is a Silicon Valley nonprofit that develops sustainable, technology-based solutions to address pressing social challenges in areas such as disability, human rights, education and literacy. Many beneficial technologies have compelling social applications that are not developed because such efforts do not meet for-profit investors’ financial expectations. Benetech specifically pursues endeavors with a strong social, rather than financial, rate of return on investment, bringing commercial technology and private sector management techniques to bear in creating innovative, non-traditional solutions to challenging social issues. More information on Benetech and its projects can be found at www.benetech.org or by calling (650) 475-5440.
About Pulse Data International
Founded in 1988, Pulse Data International has become a world leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of innovative products and software that enhance the lives of visually impaired people. These include electronic magnifying systems for people with low vision and hardware and software products, which use synthesized speech and electronic Braille for persons who are totally blind.
Today Pulse Data's biggest markets are the United States and the United Kingdom. The company also has established sales offices in Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden and Australia as well as a strong distribution network throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
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