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September 16, 2004

Cingular, Danger Offer Products For Blind, Deaf

From: Wireless Week - Sept 16, 2004

By Susan Rush
September 16, 2004
news@2 direct

Cingular Wireless has unveiled new software designed to help low-vision and blind customers access wireless services and applications. Separately, Danger has delivered software that will make its hiptop device more appealing to the hard of hearing and deaf communities.

With the help of ScanSoft, Cingular is offering TALKS, which essentially turns a wireless phone into a talking phone. TALKS is designed to give low-vision and blind access to advanced wireless applications, including text messaging, e-mail and phone directories.

The software is compatible with the Nokia 6620 and enables users to hear caller ID; write and hear e-mails, text messages and notes; manage and edit contact data; and receive audible information about battery level, network and signal strength.

"The TALKS product for Cingular is targeted first as an accessibility solution for blind or low-vision users, but TALKS has broader uses in the mainstream market as well, as hands-free access to information becomes important to environments such as automobiles," says Alan Schwartz, vice president of ScanSoft's SpeechWorks division.

The TALKS software retails for $199, but Cingular is currently offering a rebate to qualified buyers -- a $199 service credit rebate with a 2-year service agreement or a $100 service credit with a 1-year contract.

Verizon Wireless recently committed to introducing a "moderately priced" handset designed specifically with the visually impaired in mind. The carrier also said it is working to make its bills, manuals and product information more accessible to the visually impaired, will rework its Website and modify employee training on disability issues. In July, HP said, with the help of VisuAide, it plans to launch Maestro, a PDA designed for the visually impaired.

In other news related to the disabled, Danger has worked to develop software that will make Internet telecom relays for the deaf and hard of hearing easier on the latest iteration of its hiptop device. The hiptop device (also sold as the T-Mobile USA Sidekick) is already being used by the deaf community to send instant messages, e-mail or SMS, but the company says the hiptop2 will incorporate additional features, including a more powerful vibration motor and support for persistent notifications about messages until the user acknowledges their delivery.

The company also has worked with GoAmerica to develop Wireless IP and Sprint Relay Wireless.

© 2004 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.