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THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED JULY, 2000 IN THE DISABILITY JOURNAL - VISION ENHANCEMENT:
by XXXXX XXXXXX
(Note: The following is a sequel to the article Medicare Appeal Victory which appeared in the Fall 1999 edition of this journal.)
Near the end of January 2000 I received a VERA talking scanner from Arkenstone, Inc. VERA stands for Very Easy Reading Appliance and she certainly is simple to operate. Additionally, VERAs voice is quite clear and easy to understand. VERAs footprint (desk space) is about 13 x 20 inches and she is about 9 inches tall. For comfortable standing use, VERA needs to be placed on a surface about 30 inches above the floor.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT VERA:
1. She can read continuously or word-by-word
2. She can spell a word
3. She can easily delete a scanned page
4. She shuts off automatically if I forget
5. She has an attractive wood finish
6. She gives me reading privacy which a human reader does not offer
7. She can read white-on-black text
8. She reports when a page is blank
WHAT I DO NOT LIKE ABOUT VERA:
1. She does not pause between paragraphs or at other obvious text separations
2. She sometimes misreads letters and words and punctuation marks
3. She has to be returned to the factory in case of repairs or for software replacement
4. She cannot read paper money
5. She needs to offer reduced reading speeds (i.e.: slow, slower, slowest) in addition to the existing faster speeds
6. She cannot accurately read the vertical pattern of columns such as phonebook yellow pages
7. She cannot read hand-writing
8. She has difficulty reading unusual text such as magazine covers
9. She does not report when a page is upside down
10. She broke one of her lid hinges after only four months of scanning.
The bottomline is I have found VERA to be of great help to me for reading my U.S. mail, my e-mail and my writing projects. While she is not perfect and is not equal to a human reader, VERA has proven to be significantly valuable for reading accessibility.
VERA has been marketed since January 1999 and by the end of this year the manufacturer plans to do an upgrade of VERAs OCR-software (optical character recognition) so she will be even more accurate.
VERA is a self-contained, assistive technology device which uses a standard 3-blade electrical connection and costs about $3,000. Also, VERA has a male-sounding voice.
Finally, my best advice is to carefully test VERA and her competitors before purchase to be sure your expectations are in keeping with product performance.
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