Saturday, 24 February 2007

Ten Thousand Downloads of Thunder
Well, this is something to be very proud of. Since our launch at the end of July, 2006, over ten thousand people have downloaded the software and, hopefully, have shared it with others as well. Not bad in a little over six months.

Also, this week saw the launch of the Thunder users list organised for us by a couple of good people over in the States. So if you are a user and want to share ideas with other users or learn or share tips, All you have to do is join the list, make some new friends and even help us to improve Thunder.

To subscribe to the Thunder list, send a blank message to: and write the word subscribe in the Subject line.

Thank you to Kevin and Andrew for sorting this out for us all.

As well as the free Thunder, there is now a version you can purchase and already dealers are springing up round the world. The paid for version may well develop in its own way over the years with extra features but it starts out like this.

Thunder comes on a memory stick along with two high quality voices. Its absolutely amazing. Plug the memory stick into any modern XP or Vista computer USB port and, within a few seconds, the computer is talking to you in response to key presses. And the voice is such high quality too.

Techies will want to know that no software is installed on this host computer and when you unplug the memory stick, there is no trace of Thunder left behind. It all works from the memory stick. You don’t need Admin Rights and there is no video intercept such as other screen readers make use of. Its great!!!

And there is more good news round the corner. Sensory software Ltd, who developed Thunder, have come up with Lightning which is a first-rate magnification software package and there is a memory stick version of this too. Within weeks there will be a package that combines the speech and magnification into one program and you’ve guessed it, it will be called Storm. The price is so low and the quality so good that indeed it will take us all by storm.

But now back to Thunder on a Stick. If you want to learn more about the Thunder on a memory stick, why not enjoy a new experience.

Page Headline: RJ Cooper's Thunder On A Stick Demonstrated During Tek Talk Monday, February 26,
Description: FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION Topic Thunder-RJ, Screenreader on a Stick : Presenter RJ Cooper. 1-800-752-6673. The Accessible World Tek Talk online training this week turns its attention to a unique screen reader, Thunder On A Stick. RJ Cooper, a pioneer in Assistive Technology, will present his new simple screenreader, which runs directly from his website or USB stick. The stick options are MP3 player with Thunder-RJ on it, USB sound card with Thunder-RJ on it, USB sound card with program on CD, or just the program on CD. 2 very high quality voices are included. Following the formal presentation, a one-hour Open Forum will take place. Bring your computer-related questions. Our Tek Talk Team will do their best to help resolve them.

Date: Monday, February 26, 2007 Time: 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 6:00 p.m. Mountain, 7:00 p.m. Central, 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Tuesday 01:00 GMT. Where: Tek Talk Online Conference Room Approximately 30 minutes prior to the event, go to and select "Enter the Tek Talk Room". Then, when the sign-in screen appears, enter your real name and press Enter. Tell all your friends to join us. There is plenty of room for everyone. Thunder On A Stick

Sunday, 18 February 2007

For the past few months, I genuinely thought we were the only people in the free screenreader software market for blind people. But not so. I have come across an Australian organisation who have developed something a bit like our Thunder. Mike Curran and his colleagues have set up a website, to deliver NVDA talking software as a download and eSpeak as a synthetic voice, both free. The code is open source and the Alpha version already performs pretty well if a little sluggishly. Its great to know we are not alone in our thinking and I hope we will be able to learn from each other and spark innovations and improvements together which will only benefit blind users.

Here in the UK,, another free software package has made massive strides over the past few months and is very usable by blind people. SpeakOn comes as a free gift from Professor Isaac Porat from the University of Manchester. This very gifted man, who lost his sight relatively recently, has built a speech audio system to make it very easy to listen to DAISY and Audio books, internet radio stations and your CD collection. Its all done from the Numeric Keypad and, once you have got the idea, the same keystrokes work for you in all circumstances. You actually don’t even need a screenreader. To read a book or listen to a podcast, you could have the laptop nearby but sit in the armchair with an infra-red keypad in your hand and be in total control. Bliss!!!

Having got the scent for free software, I have been busy on the internet and there is lots more out there to be discovered. You don’t have to be ripped off by the commercial people if you are short of money. If you can afford the costly stuff, that’s great of course. But if our blindness charities are hell-bent on selling expensive solutions to bolster their incomes or whatever, who is going to look after the interests of the majority on low income? Well we are for starters. So stay in touch with but give us time.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Promoting Thunder

Working with Partners

How much help from others is a sensitive issue for many of us blind people. But striking the right business partnerships is essential to success. So its important to put yourself in the right company. With this in mind, last Friday I attended in Peterborough the launch of the new Leonard Cheshire Barclays Bank initiative to assist disabled people into self-employment.. Three million pounds has been made available by Barclays and the aim is to provide disabled business people at start-up with a professional buddy. There is a website with loads of business information and resources and lots of good-will on all sides to make things happen.

So I forced myself to eat delicious nibbles and drink a glass of white wine and talked to lots of important people, or rather I listened to their stories and told them about Thunder and I met a teacher who got pushed out on health grounds and now works as a Remedial Therapist with elderly and disabled clients. I also met a Dancer who had two strokes and now is building a business as a Magician. And, of course, I made it my business to talk to the organisers and significant people from both organisations. So a blind business is no different to normal, is it? Being in the right place, listening and promoting what we do.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Thunder Working Now with Windows Vista

It doesn’t matter how good your offer is. If you don’t market it to the world, there are no customers. So today I have been drafting a Press Release about our Thunder software working well with the newly released Windows Vista operating system. I have passed my words to a PR expert and, hopefully, she will get it into the Press. So this is what I wrote for her:

Windows Vista available to Blind Computer Users Right Ready Now

People with little or no sight have always lagged behind the rest of when a new version of Microsoft Windows hits the shops. But not this time and it’s a couple of UK companies who are on the ball.

Thunder is a piece of software that makes a modern computer talk so that blind people can surf the net, email and deal with documents on an equal footing. Amazingly, its free for home use and easy to use. Developed by Sensory software Ltd, Stockport, it is distributed as a download by in Peterborough. The download website for Thunder is

There will be blind and partially sighted people who can’t wait to get to grips with Vista and they can, right now. All they need to do is to spend a few minutes downloading Thunder and the new adventure begins. Thunder includes a specially designed web browser called, rather quaintly, WebbIE which presents websites as line by line text, easy to manage and listen to. There is even a WebbIE option to make the print as large as you like on screen for those with some useful vision.

So right from day one, Vista is usable by blind and partially sighted people who will be able to enjoy the new Microsoft Office 2007, including MS Word and Excel. They will be able to email using the new Windows Mail which has replaced Outlook Express and they will be able to continue to perform many of the other Windows functions and the enhanced security and benefit from the improved multimedia offerings and there’s more too!!!

Many partially-sighted people need magnification software to maximise their productivity on a computer. Sensory Software Ltd have developed and released Lightning, a software package which does just that. Its not free like Thunder but costs £159 and, here is the real Magic, it can come on a memory stick and the user can pop this into the USB port of any modern Windows Vista or XP computer and they are ready to go with print as large as they need it. There is a similar memory stick version of Thunder too at the same price. All this is fantastic news for a disadvantaged disability group which so often has been let down and made to wait and pay dearly for computer access. Says Roger Wilson-Hinds: “It’s always been our dream to be on time with disability Assistive software and this is all excellent news for schools, libraries, Public bodies and individuals with little or no sight”.

Contact Details:

Roger Wilson-Hinds
7 The Rookery
Orton Wistow
Peterborough PE2 6YT

Tel: 01733 234441
Fax: 01733 370391