WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 24, 2002 — Microsoft Corp. and Freedom Scientific Inc. today announced the availability of the PAC Mate by Freedom Scientific, a revolutionary personal data assistant (PDA) for people who are blind. This launch signals the first time a mainstream PDA product has been available to people with disabilities. Built on the Microsoft® Windows®
CE platform and tightly interwoven with Microsoft Pocket PC applications, the PAC Mate is equivalent to Pocket PC devices for sighted users, supports many of the same third-party applications and enables individuals who are blind to make the most of their time, whether they are at their desk or on the go. Unveiled during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the PAC Mate promises to play a key role in empowering and increasing the productivity of persons with disabilities in the work force.
Using Microsoft Pocket PC technology in combination with the JAWS screen reader running on the Microsoft Windows CE operating system, the PAC Mate converts objects and text to speech so users who are blind can hear documents, images and Web content. In addition, the PAC Mate integrates easily with desktop software and other Pocket PC devices, making data exchange, including infrared wireless transfer with sighted people, fast and convenient. Other benefits include the ability to take notes and make and keep track of appointments in real time.
“Freedom Scientific is proud to introduce the first handheld device that allows people who are blind to download the same information as a sighted person with little or no modification,”
said Glen Gordon, chief technology officer at Freedom Scientific.
“As a person who has been blind since birth, I know it is vital that people with disabilities have access to data and computing products that enable them to perform on the job without limitation. The PAC Mate is successful in providing this level of functionality.”
According to the 2000 Census, there are more than 50 million people with disabilities living in the United States. In addition, according to a 2000 Harris Interactive telephone poll, approximately 70 percent of those with severe disabilities surveyed were looking for work but remained unemployed.
“Technology is uniquely positioned to empower people with disabilities to pursue careers that suit their individual talents and skills,”
said W. Roy Grizzard Jr., Ed.D., assistant secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy for the U.S. Department of Labor.
“Technology can be a key factor in leveling the employment playing field for people with disabilities.”
“Through more than a decade-long commitment to accessibility, Microsoft realized long ago that information technology is one of the most significant workplace tools for people with disabilities,”
said Madelyn Bryant McIntire, director of the Accessible Technology Group at Microsoft.
“We are extremely pleased to partner with Freedom Scientific to bring the PAC Mate to fruition.”
More information about assistive technologies is available from the Microsoft Enable Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/enable/at/ .
About Freedom Scientific
Freedom Scientific is the world’s leading manufacturer of technology products for those who are blind and vision-impaired including software, notetakers, Braille displays, embossers and products for the special education and learning disability markets.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.
Microsoft and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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