Tuesday, 27 July 2010


We are having quite a busy Summer here at Screenreader.net in Peterborough. Roger went along to the Sight Village exhibition in Birmingham but we did not have our own stand this year. Instead, we pitched in with LOOK, the parents’ organisation for visually impaired children. It was great with laughter all the way and masses of young visitors. They loved the Iphone and the Ipad and we were pleased to hear just how many use our Thunder and WebbIE software at home. But the star was a lovely little lass no more than eight years old who giggled uncontrollably as she pressed the buttons of the Fart4Free Iphone Ap. It was a joy to hear her delight.

While at the exhibition, I spent time on the Harpo stand looking at the new tiny Braille display called BraillePen. Just twelve cells and light as a feather, it hooks up to Windows machines as well as to mobiles and smart phones running Talks and Mobile Speak. We plan to distribute it from the UK and would love to hear from anyone wanting a lower cost efficient Braille display. Of course, it works well to with Iphone and Ipad. We think the retail price will be around £1250 including some setting up and tuition. Since then, I have had great fun with it here at home and it works out of the box with my Apple desktop too. In the very near future, I am sure it will be up and running with our free Thunder software which makes the whole package extremely competitive and functional.

We have been busy too updating Thunder. Our minds are focused on making it the best and easiest web experience for home users with little or no sight and we are well on the way to achieve this. The current version is a little sluggish and this has been put right in the version I am currently testing. Also, you can now enjoy most or many web pages just by constantly pressing the PGDN key which is really handy if you are using a notebook or netbook. The END key, often just below this, takes you through form-filling and there are just four or five other keys to remember when you want to search the web, get to links fast or find something straight away on the page you have open. The new version I am testing should be up and running soon and it will have an automatic updating option so that you will never miss out each time an update becomes available. It all takes a little time but we are getting there with masses of users, no disability cost and an ever-improving computer and web experience.

Our helpline people, Steph and Graham, are always around to help and we have just bought in some new remote access software from The Serotek Corporation in America. This little miracle allows us to make contact directly with your computer in your home and sort out problems as if we were there at your keyboard. You might think this is old hat and so it is for seeing people. But remember our helpline staff don’t see and are real genuine visually impaired users like you so they get to hear what is going on with your computer and can use their knowledge and skills to put things right. Please give it a go if you have problems. They are very expert helpline staff.

You may well have received an email lately from us asking if you want to remain on our mailing list. Thunder has been going now for more than four years and we have a massive list of those thousands who have downloaded the Thunder software. So we are getting organised and tidying up things so we only communicate with people who want to hear from us. Thank you to those who have responded and I enjoyed renewing contact with lots of mates from the past. Sorry if we have been a minor pain to some people not wanting to hear from us.

Thunder continues to edge its way round the world and we now have interest in Nepal and Azerbaijan. Ten young blind people are able to listen to and use their computers in their native Nepalese but we have not yet been able to sort an Azerbaijani synthesiser. Those of us speaking English are very privileged but we do try hard with other languages.

Well, that’s it for now and hopefully there will be another Thunder version for you to download within weeks.

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