Saturday, April 29, 2006

Technology makes learning easier for the visually impaired

Supporting learning for blind and visually-impaired children in schools is the goal of a system that offers collaboration, data exploration, communication and creativity based on a common software architecture. Already interfaces and application prototypes are being tested.

Partners in the IST programme-funded
MICOLE project, the teams responsible are working in close contact with national and local associations and organisations of visually-disabled persons, as well as schools. Their main task is to design the system itself. However, project coordinator Roope Raisamo, University of Tampere, Finland, describes several supporting activities emphasising users and their real needs.

“We are experimenting with how to use different senses to partially replace missing visual capabilities, especially in tasks that are central in the construction of the system,” he says. “Empirical research of collaborative and cross-modal haptic interfaces for visually-impaired children is one of the most important research activities.”

Haptic technology interfaces with the user through the sense of touch. This emerging technology adds the sense of touch to previously visual-only solutions. MICOLE’s software architecture and applications are multimodal, that is, they use hearing and touch to complement different levels of visual disability.

Their work extends beyond developing an assistive tool. “In addition to MICOLE’s immediate value as a tool, the system will have societal implications by improving the inclusion of the visually disabled in education, work and society in general,” explains Raisamo.

Collaborative learning brings benefits Initial field studies involved interviews with teachers, children and related user organisations as well as observations of actual group work in schools. The objective was to determine how visually-impaired children collaborate in school with peers and teachers, and to understand to what extent they engage in group work.

“The interaction among the pupils, with teachers and with their peers is very important for learning,” says Raisamo. “We know that collaborative learning has benefits because the pupils learn through a dialogue with their peers and construct their own knowledge by doing tasks together with others.”
Field study results from Austria, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Sweden and the UK showed major differences in the education of visually-impaired children, however, they revealed many similarities regarding aspects of collaboration. Based on these results, a prototyping workshop was held in Stockholm where the school situation for such pupils was addressed. Various hapitc and auditory applications developed within MICOLE were assessed and new designs formulated.

He notes there are no specific requirements for the users of the system. “The system adapts to the users. It is aimed at visually-impaired children, but because it facilitates collaboration among sighted and visually-impaired children, it also supports sighted children.”

A multimodal system with visual, audio and haptic feedback can support many kinds of users with disabilities because missing one of the modalities does not make the system unusable, Raisamo adds.

Prototypes being tested Project partners have developed or tested 16 different interfaces and application prototypes, such as explorative learning of the earth’s internal layers, rhythm reproduction, a tactile maze game, virtual maracas (percussion instruments), post-its with a haptic barcode, an electric circuit browser, a haptic simon game, memory games, a haptic turtle and a haptic game of the classic first video game, pong.

For example, to better teach natural phenomenon, such as seasons, gravity and the solar system, project partners constructed a system using proactive agents that offer the pupil help when necessary. The user decides whether to accept help comprised of visual, auditory and haptic feedback to present content.

King Pong is a fully accessible remake of pong, supporting a spatially localised 3D audio environment, force feedback (translating sound into haptic feedback), recording and playback. It also offers a high level of configurability concerning the auditory grid.

Their MAWEN prototype software demonstrates how blind and visually-impaired children can be helped in mathematical exercises. Geometry is a difficult subject to teach to visually-impaired pupils, yet one of the most useful as it is necessary for the construction of their mental space representation. It is also essential for general education as well as for everyday tasks. Classic geometry teaching is based on visual modality: drawings, graphs, lines and curves - all unavailable to visually impaired students.

The underlying technology of their SALOME system is a haptic force feedback device. A software application uses this device like a pen, writing with friction on a virtual horizontal plane, much like a notebook page. Geometric figures are coded as haptic magnetised grooves that attract the pen toward the different elements of the diagram.

Each element has an audio description (voice synthesiser) that enhances the perception of the element. This sequential audio-haptic scheme shapes a spatial representation of the figure.
Software architecture is being developed in parallel with the prototypes. The next phase will be defining and programming the agents. More than 100 visually-impaired test users in the partner countries are part of this research process.

Building on Europe’s strengths Project partners include European and world leaders in the area of haptics and multimodal-human-computer interaction. For example, Reachin Technologies AB is a world leader in haptic technology; France Telecom has experience in developing applications for the blind.

“MICOLE offers an outstanding opportunity and the critical mass for the consortium to integrate and realise results of their earlier work and to test the most novel ideas to meet the needs of the visually impaired,” says Raisamo. “The results are expected to make a valuable European contribution to the development of the information society and real-world equality for visually-disabled children, empowering them as future citizens.”

The multimodal software architecture to create new applications is under construction. Scientific results from multimodal navigation and cross-modal presentation of information are being fed in to the team’s work. The three-year project is scheduled to end in August 2007.

Volunteers required for sports camps for the visually impaired

College and high school students, as well as area sports enthusiasts and members of the community are invited to volunteer for the 19th annual Sports Education Camps for youths with visual impairments May 7-13 at Western Michigan University.

The WMU Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies is offering two camps, a junior camp May 7-9 for ages 10-12 and a senior camp May 10-13 for ages 13-16. The junior camp will offer introductions to goalball, gymnastics, swimming, track and field, wrestling, and bowling, while the senior camp will offer those events plus cycling, judo and power lifting.

Volunteers can donate anywhere from four to 50 hours of their time as sports teachers, dorm helpers, drivers, guide runners and other roles. In particular, gymnasts, guide runners, swimmers and wrestlers are needed for sporting events. People also are needed to manage small groups around campus and in dorms.

Gift of a computer for visually impaired student

Visually impaired student Peisha Paul has received a fully equipped computer system through the collaborative efforts of the Grenada and Friends Association of Antigua and Barbuda and the Cool & Smooth department store.

She was presented with the computer, estimated to have cost close to $ 5,000 at a short ceremony last week.

Funds were raised at this year’s celebration of Grenada’s 32nd anniversary of Independence organised by the association at which Paul performed a solo rendition on pan.
“We were so impressed with her performance and in collaboration with Cool and Smooth, we are here today to present this computer to her,” said vice president of the association Don Hill.

Some $850 was raised at the activity; another $200 was contributed by former carnival queen Kirsy Rijo-Charles and the remaining funds were contributed by the association and the company.
“This computer will assist me in my assignments and for researching information.

Thanks to the general public for their contributions when asked to do so,” was Paul’s response to the gift.
Paul is a second form student at the Antigua Girls' High School.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Visually impaired can golf too!

Throw away everything golf coaches say about keeping your eye on the ball. Apparently one can still hit the little white ball and win a world tournament with both eyes closed.

At least it has been the case for David Morris, a blind golfer from the United Kingdom who has three world blind golf championships under his belt.

"Any golfer can tell you that this is an exciting challenging game. But I am here to say that golf is not an esoteric sport reserved for the seeing," said Morris yesterday at an event to promote the game of golf for the blind and visually impaired community in Taiwan.

With the collaboration of Green Worldwide, a golf consulting company based in Hong Kong, and the International Blind Golf Association, Kuo Hua Legendary Golf Academy hosted the country's first exhibition golf tournament for the vision impaired.

Along with eight blind or visually impaired golf players from different countries around the world, a handful of local entertainers and golf celebrities such as Hong Chia-yuh and Yeah Chang-ting teed off the game on Tuesday at the Kuo Hua Golf Club located in Beitou.

The game was played in the shotgun 9-hole style, which means the golfers play only up to half of a normal course. Each 4-person team includes three seeing and one blind or visually impaired player.

According to the official rules of IBGA, blind golf is played strictly according to the Rules of Golf produced by the Royal and Ancient. The R&A has published "A Modification of the Rules of Golf for Golfers with Disabilities" which allows blind golfers to ground their clubs in a hazard.

A player uses a sighted coach or guide to give verbal information about each hole, help with club selection and placing the club head directly behind the ball. From then on it's the blind golfers' play.
"It has been my lifelong dream to promote golf in our society," said Club President Ho Li-chun. "I hope by introducing the sport for the blind and visually impaired community, we can also promote a healthier way of life for all."

To live up to their promise, together with the Institute for the Blind of Taiwan, Kuo Hua Legendary Golf Academy has opened 10 spots for any blind or visually impaired individuals in a year-long training course at their club.

You do not need to see to believe!

A blue sky hovering above green grass is a simple scene for an artist to paint, unless the artist is colorblind, like Michele LaComb. Uncooperative blues and greens haven't dulled LaComb's creativity, however -- her paintings encompass all the colors of the rainbow.

Despite vision and hearing loss, LaComb will soon share her artistic talents and skills with others through an art class. This Monday, she is offering an arts and crafts class at the Art School in Endwell to visually impaired students. The 44-year-old Conklin resident hopes the class will be a learning experience both for her and those who attend.

"This is something I always thought I would want to try doing. I feel I can relate (to others) because I do have vision loss," LaComb says of her desire to teach. "I think it will be a two-way street. Maybe being around other people with similar disabilities will help me to understand what I'm going to have to experience someday."

Hearing-impaired since she was a toddler, LaComb was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at age 34. Her visual impairment is slowly decreasing her peripheral sight, and it makes it hard to differentiate between blues and greens. She also describes her condition as having tunnel vision.
"It's like looking through a toilet paper tube," she says.

With a lack of sight above, below and to either side, LaComb, who has taught art classes before, but not for the visually impaired, still manages to capture depth in her paintings. She compensates for her colorblindness by using acrylic paints instead of pastels, which have their colors clearly labeled.

"If it wasn't for my art, I don't know what I'd be doing. It's been very therapeutic for me," LaComb says.

She remembers starting her first sketch book at age 10 and first learning to draw from comics before moving on to muses outside her home. When her vision loss became apparent, it propelled LaComb to capture moments through art as often as possible, to try to record the visual world through art while she still can.

"It's something I always liked doing and wanted to continue, but it just made me do it now instead of later," LaComb says of her artwork. After her diagnosis, husband Stanley LaComb brought her drawing table out of the basement so she could use it more frequently, instead of just for the usual one painting a year.

Her need to create and the satisfaction and therapeutic value of it has inspired the award-winning artist to share the experience with others who are visually impaired. She wants them to experience ways they can be creative, even if it involves using different skills or senses such as touch instead of sight.

An article about world famous blind artist Lisa Fittipaldi, of Washington, D.C., also served as inspiration for LaComb. Like other impaired artists, Fittipaldi has used other senses to help her create, and it is this principle that LaComb has adopted and hopes to pass on.

"I think the class will make people more aware that they can be creative, too. They can have skills; they will just be different, that's all," she says.

The project for the pilot class at the Art School will be a clay relief sculpture in a frame. Students will have various subjects, such as half an apple or a pear, to touch, determine shape and texture, and then recreate.

"I tried creating a sculpture being completely blindfolded and I was surprised with what I could do just by feeling. You'd be amazed how much information you can get just from touch. That's why touch is so important for people who are visually impaired -- other senses are more intensified because you are using them more," LaComb explains.

LaComb also says she must be careful about how she words her instructions in the classroom. Research and experience have told her phrases such as "over there, you will see," can be insensitive to those who are impaired.

The Association for Vision Rehabilitation and Employment Inc. in Binghamton supported LaComb's idea for the class.

"Michele came to us and said 'do you think this is a good idea,'" says Rick McCarthy, director of program services, "and I said 'absolutely.' There's an artistic component to it as well as a social component," he says of LaComb's program.

The class might be particularly advantageous for senior citizens who can feel they are becoming less independent when they start to lose their vision, McCarthy says.

"You might be dealing with folks who haven't done this in 50 years and it can take them back to an earlier time in life and rediscover an activity," he says.

It's also an opportunity to meet people with visual impairments and similar concerns.
"Anything that gets people out and gets people to exercise their minds and creativity is a good thing," he says, "It's the opportunity to exercise some creativity and see you can learn things even if you lose your sight."

Mainly, LaComb wants to give her students the chance to become empowered through art. She eventually wants to start a program for children if Monday's class has a successful outcome.
"I'm hoping that they will find joy in creating and in the opportunity they have, and that they will want to explore other mediums," LaComb says, "I think if they enjoy it they will want to share their work and that will be rewarding."

Resources created to improve visually impaired life

At first glance they don't look different -- a newfangled puzzle for kids, a shoulder bag, an aerobics mat and a navigational device you can attach to your coat.

But these industrial design projects by four Carleton University students, who teamed up with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, are not your everyday goods. They have the potential to improve the lives of the visually impaired.

These and other projects will be on display at an exhibition held by Carleton's School of Industrial Design at the university's art gallery in the St. Patrick Building, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., tomorrow to Tuesday.

A colourful three-dimensional musical puzzle for visually impaired children was inspired by Ilana Ben-Ari's desire to build a bridge between those who can see and those who can't.
The game is for visually impaired children, but the idea is that they would play it with those with sight. It boils down to communication, which is the key to the game.

"It was really interesting to watch while they played the game and the different words that they used," says Ben-Ari. "They see the world in a really different way."


Charles Ford Carriere's goal in creating his modular shoulder bag was to help the visually impaired with navigation. The bag incorporates navigational technologies, such as the Global Positioning System, to aid in travel. The bag is made of a conductive fabric to allow for changing technology.

It was the most difficult project Ford Carriere had ever done.

"Usually, when you design, you try to put yourself in the place of the user, you imagine the world through the user's eyes," he says. "Because this is the first time I have designed for someone with a visual impairment, it's almost impossible to see myself in that person's shoes."

Christopher Edwards designed an aerobics mat that emits audio speech and tones to lead the person through a workout.

"I wanted to allow them some kind of independence and increase that level of fitness and I had the requirement to increase navigational ability," he says.

The mat provides the visually impaired a way to work out in a safe and comfortable environment while improving sound recognition skills.

Counteracting the hazards of inclement weather was Elizabeth Mitchell's goal. Her navigational aid helps the visually impaired negotiate an array of outdoor conditions.

"This is part of why I got into the program to begin with," she says. "To know that there are a lot of un-met needs in the world and as designers we are able to help people and ultimately make their daily life more accessible."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tactile graphic resources available to visually impaired

A new tactile device will allow the widespread use of graphical interfaces visually-impaired people. The tactile graphical display will open up new avenues of employment, communication and personal expression. Conceivably it could do for graphics what Louis Braille did for text in 1824.

Current Braille displays generally show one line at a time using electro-magnetic or piezo-electrical forces to raise and lower the dots that make up Braille letters. Larger multiline displays were developed but never sold commercially because they cost over €200,000 to produce.

The new display uses electro-rheological fluids and will cost about €15,000 when it enters production, a comparable price to current top-of-the-range single line readers.

"Piezo-electrical devices manufacture the dots in pairs, whereas in our system we can manufacture the entire display in one sweep, which keeps down the costs," said Dr Sami Ahmed, managing director of Smart Technology Group the scientific coordinator of the interactive Tactile Interface
project, backed by funding from the European Commission’s IST programme.

Smart were responsible for developing the electro-rheological (ER) fluids which change their state from liquid to semi-solid when a charge is applied. Developing the ER fluids was the greatest challenge faced by the project. Smart also was responsible for design and manufacture of the new display unit.

"We use these types of fluid in other applications, but it took quite a lot of work to get the specification we required for this device," says Ahmed. System controls and special software allow dots to raise and lower individually, offering users an entire page of text or graphics.
"Single line devices are fine for simple text, but what if you want to look at a spreadsheet? For that you need a full-screen display, which can also produce text," says Ahmed.

The device could even make reading text easier for users. Current single line systems replace read lines with new lines of text, so users cannot conveniently refer back to something they've just read.

But it is the exciting ability to include graphical elements that really sets the ITACTI device apart. "We're not talking about photos of Tony Blair, but rather practical applications like icons, bar charts and presentations. It will also be very useful for mathematical formula," says Ahmed.

He believes it could also mean new job opportunities, and suggests it could be used to allow visually-impaired people to work in call centres when full screens of data need to be quickly scanned to respond to queries.

Graphics is not the only innovation achieved by the team. Uniquely, the device integrates both input and output, so users can read a Web page and then click hyperlinks if they want. It can also work like a mouse, with the fingers moving the cursor around the screen while the thumb can click or double-click particular elements.

So far the response to the new device is very enthusiastic. "Users loved it and it opened up a whole new world. This is because the Royal National Institute of the Blind in the UK was a member of the consortium. They told us what users needed," says Ahmed. The consortium also had strong links with the Italian charity ANS.

Conceivably the device could create whole new fields for visually-impaired people. With widespread use the system could enable the emergence of new patterns to represent graphical elements.

"Right now we're actively seeking ways to begin commercial production. For that to happen, we first need to produce a pre-production run and extend testing on the device. We hope to raise the investment necessary to tackle that stage. If that's achieved, then we could move to production quite quickly," ends Ahmed.

What is it like to be visually impaired?

I’m legally blind, so when I began this article, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say about blindness since conveying a true sense of the condition to the seeing is virtually impossible.

I then began to think of ways to describe what blind people see, and what totally blind people do not. But even with good illustrations, it would be difficult for those with sight to understand the permanence and unyielding challenges conquered by people like me on a regular basis. That said, I concluded that I could only hope to spread a sense of understanding to the seeing by documenting those experiences with which I am all too familiar in my day to day life. Maybe after reading this, you’ll feel a little more respect, and a little more patience when encountering us out in the world.

First of all, I’m not completely blind. I say this because I know I have some advantages that totally blind people do not. For instance, even though I can’t see the character’s faces on the TV, I can watch programs if I sit very close to the screen. Totally blind people, however, can’t see it at all. My ability to watch TV this way, still presents its own unique set of challenges though, one of which is not being able to find the remote control.

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I decided to sit down and watch TV, so I began looking for the remote. I started by looking on the breakfast bar- didn’t see it. Then I looked on the kitchen counters, then the couch and love seat. Unfortunately, ten minutes later, I was still looking when my teenage daughter entered the room. Unbelievably, she walked directly to the breakfast bar, and retrieved the remote that had been sitting there in plain sight the entire time. This whole frustrating scenario was topped off when she turned on the TV, and started watching Sponge Bob!

Another issue is that I don’t always see the two cats that live with me and who are consequently always on high alert as to where I am walking. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flattened Fluffy, or sideswiped Snow Flake while rushing to the bathroom, or while sneaking to the fridge for a midnight snack. It’s no wonder that after watching their nine lives dwindle down to two or three, they now make a wide arc around me when I’m up and about.

Interesting observations can be made if you watch a visually impaired person trying to find a particular food item in a large grocery store. Let me tell you, after asking an individual for help one day, I’ve learned there are a great many helpful people out there for us to contend with. You see, after explaining to a fellow shopper that I am legally blind, I asked her if she could tell me where the clam sauce was located. Well, I didn’t notice that there was someone else nearby who also heard everything I said, and so you can understand why I was completely surprised when another shopper quickly grabbed me by the arm saying, “Don’t worry baby, I’ll show you.”

And what happened next? The lady I actually asked suddenly became disgruntled, and grabbed my other arm saying through clenched teeth, “He asked me first!” Painfully, for about two minutes, the women yanked me this way and that, until the manager observed me being nearly pulled limb from limb, and thankfully intervened to save my life.

The next challenge people like me have that seeing people should know about is the difficulty we have buying gifts for our spouses without them finding out what they are and ruining the surprise. The main reason for this is that it’s usually because it’s our spouses who have to take us to the store. Recently, I went to a large department store with my wife. I told her to “Go away!” so I could shop for her gift. After asking at least a dozen strangers throughout my ordeal what various price tags read, and what kinds of things were in various bath sets, I finally found her something.

What I bought for her, however, was so big that I was soon worried she’d see it as I was carrying it to the register, or out the door. Once outside, it took twenty-five minutes of walking up and down rows of parked cars to find our vehicle.

And let me tell you, gifts need cards, and if you are visually impaired and looking for a card for your husband or wife, you better get someone to read them to you before you choose the one you want. Last June, I was too self-conscious to ask somebody in the store to read the cards I was looking through for my wife’s 35th birthday. So, looking at the pictures as best I could, I finally thought I’d bought a card that said, “I love you, and always will.” But, in actuality, what the card really said was, “I love you even though you’re over the hill.” Needless to say, my wife wasn’t pleased when she finally got around to reading her card.

Another challenge for the visually impaired comes from having helpful adaptive devices that talk, but that do not have volume controls. In other words, everyone in the house now knows when I am ‘seeing’ what time it is, and when I am weighing myself. Why does this bother me? Well think about it, if you are a married man, and your wife is taking forever getting ready to go out to dinner, each time you glance down at your watch, loudly blurt out what time it is. Keep this up, and I can assure you it won’t take long for you to find out how wives react to feeling rushed. Those husbands who can quietly and discreetly check their watches with neither reproach, nor loud voices blurting out the time (agitating their wives) have no idea just how lucky they are.

The other device I’d like a volume control on is my talking scale. As it stands right now, it is both a marvel of modern technology, and a thorn in my side. The problem I have with it is every time I stand on it I hear my wife yell from the kitchen, “You ain't losing any weight yet.” Annoyed, I respond with, “Thanks for the info honey, but I’m blind, not deaf.”

To sum this all up, the visually impaired have many challenges they face on a regular basis. From awkward and benign situations at home, to more serious predicaments like having to cross busy streets or navigate large hospitals, most visually impaired people handle these obstacles with grit and determination. That said, you might come across a visually impaired person one day who is in your way, or causes you grief or delay in some other manner. If you do, remember this article and remember how pervasive the effects of vision loss are in the life of the impaired, and maybe you will indeed feel a little more understanding, patience and respect.

Bingo machines for the visually impaired

A bingo hall in Dundee, Scotland, recently installed new bingo machines, which enable visually impaired individuals to play the game. Gala Bingo officials were reported as saying that the new machines have proven to be popular, not only among people with sight impairments, but also among the venue's regular customers.

One of the main reasons for such popularity is the fact that the new bingo machines make it much easier for players to deal with several cards at the same time. Alistair Tares, Gala Bingo's general manager, reportedly said that the newly-installed machines were developed, not only for people with vision problems, but also for customers with flawless vision.

The Electronic Dabber (Ted) machines help players keep track of the game. During a game, the machines have called numbers “beamed” to them. Players must press a button after each time a number is called and if it is on their bingo card, it is automatically registered. Tares also said that it was nice to see that gaming technology helps players with limited vision enjoy the game.

Talking prescription bottles for the visually impaired

Wizzard Software (OTCBB:WIZD) and its subsidiary, MedivoxRx Technologies, announced today that TSSI will begin offering prescriptions in Rex Talking Prescription Bottles. Since 1994, TSSI has provided durable medical equipment and respiratory medications throughout San Diego County. TSSI's success has been contingent upon supplying services in a humanistic manner to reach various cultures and bring positive changes to the lives of those using TSSI products.

"It is clearly evident that thousands of individuals encounter daily challenges managing their medications," said Lyn Schwartz, Director of Business Development for the TSSI Pharmacy Division. "Rex offers individuals the ability to maintain their dignity by living independently." Rex-The Talking Bottle is an innovative assistive device that allows users to "hear" recorded medication instructions.

Instructions or other important information are recorded into the base of the bottle and can be heard by simply pushing the button located on the side of the bottle. Completely portable, disposable and easy to use, Rex is perfect for the elderly, visually impaired and cognitively impaired, or anyone who can't read or understand their medication label instructions. TSSI has been participating in community outreach by providing demonstrations of Rex-The Talking Prescription Bottle to a number of adult day care centers, residential programs and visually impaired facilities.

The reaction of those in attendance has been very positive and appreciative, with one presentation at a center for the blind receiving a standing ovation. "We are pleased to be able to work with TSSI and support their work in the community," said Gene Franz, General Manager, Solutions and Channels for MedivoxRx. "It is encouraging to see organizations such as TSSI being more than a business and using their resources to serve the community in which they do business." Rex - The Talking Prescription Bottle provides a viable solution to the growing medication error problem in the United States.

The Department of Health and Human Services reports that fewer than 30% of older adults take their medications properly. Further, pharmaceutical errors create $45-80 billion in additional medical spending with the number one error being identified as labeling problems and education. Also, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports medication errors and/or adverse drug events kill an estimated 100,000 persons annually and represent the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.

About TSSI: For more information, contact the TSSI Pharmacy Division at 619-337-3656. About Wizzard Software: Founded in 1996, Wizzard Software has become a leader in the speech technology application development market. Wizzard architects solutions to business problems using its expertise in consulting, speech development tools and building speech based applications for the Desktop and Internet.

Wizzard has achieved global recognition because of its expertise with voice communication whether it is via computer or telephone. Wizzard's successes have lead to expanding speech technology opportunities in both the government and commercial sectors including several healthcare industry products and services. For more information, visit MedivoxRx is the originator of "Rex", the talking prescription pill bottle, which "talks" to the patient allowing them to distinguish what type of medication is in the bottle and hear critical information on dosage amounts and refill parameters.

Additional information on MedivoxRx can be found at Legal Notice Legal Notice Regarding Forward-Looking Statements: "Forward-looking Statements" as defined in the Private Securities litigation Reform Act of 1995 may be included in this news release. These statements relate to future events or our future financial performance. These statements are only predictions and may differ materially from actual future results or events.

We disclaim any intention or obligation to revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise. There are important risk factors that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to risks associated with changes in general economic and business conditions, actions of our competitors, the extent to which we are able to develop new services and markets for our services, the time and expense involved in such development activities, the level of demand and market acceptance of our services, changes in our business strategies and acts of terror against the United States.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Visually impaired cricket players leave for Pakistan

THE Punjab team of the visually impaired cricketers left for Pakistan for playing a five one-day match series against the Pakistan Punjab's team on Thursday. It must be mentioned here that it is for the first time that any state's cricket team of visually impaired players is going abroad to play one day matches.

This team was flagged off by Anupam Kaler, general assistant to DC, Ludhiana District Sports Officer (DSO) Gian Inder Singh, SGPC Member Surinder Pal Singh Baddowal and Congress leader Jagpal Singh Khangura.

While speaking with the media persons, the captain of the team Gurpreet Singh Machhiwara said that all members of his team are very confident of winning the series. ''Though in Pakistan Punjab team, most of players are the members of Pakistan's national visually impaired team, yet we will do our best to beat them.''

"We have many all-rounders including Rajinder Singh Cheema, Balwinder Singh and Shailendra Singh who can bat and bowl well according to the situation. We also have our main strike bowler Gurbir Singh Dehlon who can spell doom for the opponent team,'' he added.

Gurpreet also told that, "All the players are in good nick as the team has undergone an 18-day long conditioning camp from March 22 to April 8 held at Fatehgarh Sahib. We have also got some wonderful tips from our coach Sunil Kumar and we are hopeful of winning the series."

The team:

Parminder Singh, Gurbir Singh Dehlon, Salinder Singh, Sandeep Kumar Trivedi, Gurpreet Singh Machhiwara, Balwinder Singh, Rajinder Singh Cheema, Murari Lal, Satinder Kumar, Harjinder Singh and Manwinder Singh.

High School students raised funds for the visually impaired

Skiers from Cedarburg High School in Wisconsin recently donated $6,500 to Foresight Ski Guides, the Colorado-based nonprofit that takes blind and visually- impaired people skiing on Vail Mountain. The Cedarburg High School ski team raised the funds at its fourth annual Ski Foresight Benefit Race earlier this ski season at the Sunburst, a ski area in Kewaskum, Wis.

Foresight Ski Guides founder Mark Davis, Mike Francisco of Gypsum, student Jaycey Brab, guide Mark Masto, student Lindsay Backes and guide Jan Masto were around one day last month when the students gave the nonprofit skiing organization a $6,500 check.Cedarburg High School seniors Lindsay Backes and Jacey Brab, who headed up the fundraising activities, visited Vail to present the $6,500 check to Mark G. Davis, Foresight Ski Guides' founder and president, and to ski with blind and visually-impaired people.

"It was great to be able to see what happened to the money we raised by skiing with a totally blind person one day and a partially-blind person the next day," said Backes, 17. "It was amazing to see the trust that had been built up between the skiers and their guides and realize just how much training the guides had gone through to be able to develop that trust." For the past four years, the Cedarburg High School ski team has raised more than $15,000 for Foresight Ski Guides, said Janet Levy, who retired last year as community service coordinator for Cedarburg High School.

"Our goal was to acquaint the kids with the importance of community service and we were looking for things that would give them leadership skills, give their lives some dimension and help them grow into caring young adults," Levy said. "It was a natural fit that the ski team would do something for blind and visually-impaired skiers who otherwise wouldn't be able to experience the joys of skiing without Foresight Ski Guides," she said.

The charity race not only involved ski racers from throughout Wisconsin but also members of Wisconsin Bold, a nonprofit that enables blind and visually-impaired people to experience outdoor sports and leisure activities while developing their social and athletic skills."We are honored that these high school kids chose Foresight Ski Guides as the benefactor of their hard work," said Davis, who founded Foresight Ski Guides in 2001 after losing his functional vision due to a rare symptom of multiple sclerosis. "Their enthusiasm as they skied with two visually-impaired people during their Vail visit was inspiring," he said.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Internet company prepared to meet their visually impaired customers' needs

ClearFlite Air Purifiers today launched an Accessible section of their web site that is W3C compliant. The Accessible section was designed to facilitate the visually impaired use of the Web. Both those with severe visual impairments who are using software to hear the web and people who are color blind are facilitated.

The Web has become the chosen information delivery system for most firms. While this is cost effective and convenient it becomes extremely problematic for the visually impaired. For instance if graphic navigation buttons are chosen with red and green hues they may not be able to be read by someone with red-green color blindness.

We spent time adjusting the main site to be usable with a speaking program but felt that we had not achieved the ease of use that we targeted for the profoundly visually impaired” said Ted Zajac, Jr. Vice President of Information Systems for ClearFlite Air Purifiers.

“We structured the Accessible section with limited colors, very large type sizes, and intelligent linked text” said Zajac. “Since many of the web speaking programs provide the linked text at the beginning of the page “Click Here” is not a helpful link. Intelligent linked text will read “Click here for IQAir air purifier information”.

About ClearFlite Air PurifiersClearFlite Air Purifiers is the premier dealer of high-end air purifiers on the Web. Founded in 1990 and on the Web since 1996, ClearFlite has been established as the benchmark for the industry in customer support and quality care. For more information, visit

Authentication system designed to meet the visually impaired needs

With Xi-Sign 4500, Banks can now Provide Their Visually Impaired Customers a Security Solution for On-Line Banking Services

Based on XIRING patented technology "Chip-to-Speech", the Xi-Sign 4500 will be the first CAP-compliant device to offer a smart card based authentication solution for visually impaired users.
As the popularity of alternative banking channels, such as online and telephone banking, continues to grow, there is a growing need for banks to remotely authenticate all customers during non face-to-face transactions and that includes the visually impaired.

In Europe, the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) states that disabled people have important rights of access to everyday services, and that service providers must make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their specific need. This includes remote banking services. Furthermore when shopping with a card, it is important that a disabled person can check the most recent transactions made with the card to avoid fraud.

The Xi-Sign 4500 meets these needs.

Xi-Sign 4500 features a specific audio interface based on the patented "Chip-to-Speech" technology owned by XIRING, that enables the device to recite any text displayed on the screen in a clear recorded voice, and which is accessed with a discrete earphone. Using this function the device can "read" the one-time password calculated by the EMV banking card, and also read back the transaction logs from the card so a user can audibly check the amounts charged to the card. The reader is portable and off-line so it can be used in any location as a means of on-line authentication.

It also features an oversize screen, displaying the authentication password in 7mm characters for the partially sighted that represents twice the size of characters displayed on existing relevant devices. When the device is turned on the first time, a special "Discovery" mode is activated which helps the user to learn the layout of the keyboard using audible indications, in order to memorize the position and the associated function of each key.

Thanks to the innovative Chip-to-Speech audio interface, the user is guided in an audio manner and so benefits from the security of smart card based authentication to access on-line services just like anybody else.

As Nigel Reavley, Director of Business Unit Banking at XIRING, explains, "XIRING is currently working with major banks in the UK and Europe to develop EMV based authentication solutions that best meet the diverse needs of their customers, whatever these might be. As a result of our strong client relationships and an excellent knowledge of the banking sector, XIRING has been able to identify this need in the market and develop a specific solution based on our certified Xi-Sign platform."

"The Xi-Sign 4500 is a testament to the banking community's commitment to meet the specific needs of all of their customers and to deliver the best service possible."

For further media information or to arrange a media interview with Nigel Reavley from XIRING, please contact Shona Clarke at Harrison Cowley on +44-(0)-870-606-0960 or email

About XIRING :

XIRING designs, manufactures and markets smartcard based security products and solutions. Through authentication and digital signature it allows private and professional users to secure their electronic transactions. XIRING focuses on remote banking and health care applications and leverages an international network of more than 50 business partners. Six million XIRING readers have been delivered in 30 countries.

Concert performed by visually impaired musicians

To perform music for ten hours in a day, you have to have resilience and powerful vocal chords. When you are blind, in addition, you have to have a phenomenal memory to remember the 120 songs performed.

Sona Sangeeth, a band of 13 totally blind people, on Sunday undertook a ten-hour concert divided into three sections to mark their 10th anniversary at Kalaivanar Arangam. They are best known as the troupe that provided back-up vocals for the song `Ovuru Pookkal' from Cheran's award-winning movie "Autograph."

Their repertoire consists of Tamil hits from "Sivakasi," "Majaa," "Chandramukhi" and "Ghajini." Praveena Mahesh, one of the performers, says they also sing songs from Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Hindi, depending on where they are performing.

What started as a college band at Madras Christian College is now aspiring for worldwide acclaim as they plan to set a Guinness Record later this year by singing for the longest stretch.

Govindarajan, founder of the sangeeth, says he's not sure what the existing record is, "but we are willing to even sing for 100 hours. We are prepared for that. Whatever it takes." If they average about 12 songs an hour, they will have to perform 1,200 songs, something he says they are capable of as they know several more.

Mr. Govindarajan started the organisation to create awareness about the visually challenged. "We participated in college culturals and won prizes for MCC." Prasanna Kumar and Jalal, members of the sangeeth, were with him from the inception of the unit. Prasanna is Praveena's brother, and like the others, has a day job as an English lecturer at Vivekananda College to earn his bread and butter.

The jam comes from his music; he plays the mridangam, dholak and tabla. The troupe plays commercially at wedding receptions, sabhas and other public functions. And though their USP is that they are all visually challenged, they know how to get a party going. When they break into Ilaya Thalapathy Vijay's `Appidi Podu', the handful of audience that wandered to the venue suddenly comes alive with catcalls and clapping.

Guide dogs training, a necessity!

The Taiwan Guide Dog Association asked for public support on Sunday for a plan to establish a guide dog training school to benefit the visually impaired. To raise public awareness of the importance of guide dogs to the visually impaired, association sponsored a dog carnival on Sunday at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. TGDA Secretary-General Chen Chang-chin said that while there are currently approximately 50,000 visually impaired individuals in Taiwan, there are only 14 certified guide dogs on the island. "All the guide dogs we have right now were trained in another country," Chen said. "We have a severe shortage of trained professionals and guide dog training schools in Taiwan. He said that in an effort to solve the problem, the association has decided to build more guide dog training schools.

He said that the total cost of construction is estimated at NT$600 million, but the association has only been able to raise NT$100 million since it launched the proposal last year. "We need everyone's help to safeguard and protect the rights of the visually impaired community," he said. Chang Chiu-hsiung, the standing counsel for the TGDA, pointed out although the law allows adult guide dogs or puppy trainees to have access to commercial and business venues and to board public transportation, many business owners still refuse to let the animals into their stores.

"Our main slogan this year is 'Don't Refuse'," he said, explaining that all guide dogs have been carefully selected and professionally trained. He stressed that trained guide dogs have usually have a mild temperament and do not bark or bite unless provoked or if they dog sense a need to protect their owners. "The dogs function as the eyes of their owners.

We hope the public will be more understanding and accepting of these canine helpers, " Chang said. Guide dogs, or sometimes known as blind-seeing eye dogs usually begin their training when they are around six to eight weeks old. On average, the dogs have work life of seven years and can have several different owners within this period. The TGDA is also seeking volunteer foster homes for the dogs. Volunteers would be required to take care of the dogs until they are taken to training school.

For more information on this type of training, we invite you to visit the following sites: and

Easter eggs hunt means a great deal to visually impaired children

Brittany Breen couldn't get enough Easter eggs.

"Are there any more?" she asked.

Brittany, 6, spent Saturday morning hunting for eggs during a special event for blind and visually impaired children at the University Park Village shopping center.

About 30 children and their parents came from Arlington, Weatherford and other area cities for the 11th annual event.

Before the hunt began, volunteers spread hay and hid hundreds of candy-filled eggs -- and special eggs outfitted with beepers -- in a parking lot.

The children were divided into groups so that everyone would get a fair share of goodies.
Shelby Edwards, 10, of Boyd said she wouldn't miss the hunt.

"It's fun; you get to hear the beepers," she said. "And you get to talk to the Easter Bunny."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

New way to insure the visually impaired's safety on the road!

For the large number of visually impaired people in Delhi, travelling by auto-rickshaws is all set to become safer as plans have been drawn up to put metal plates bearing the registration numbers of the vehicles in both Braille and embossed form on the sides.

"The plates, which would cost around Rs. 25 each, have been approved by Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf and would make it easier for the blind passengers to know the registration number of the auto. This is important as it enables the passengers to lodge a complaint with the authorities if the driver misbehaves or refuse to carry them and it also helps them inform their relatives or friends about their movement so that they may know the vehicle number and pick them from a designated spot," according to the convenor of Samarthya, Sanjeev Sachdeva.

Declaring that such plates had long been demanded by the visually impaired -- around 10,000 of whom take public transport each day to travel to and fro school, college, office or other places - Mr. Sachdeva said these small innocuous plates would help these people lead an independent life. Also, he said, it would make travel safer for them in Delhi.

Stating that both the All India Confederation of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind are ready to provide these plates measuring five inch by five inch at cost price, Mr. Sachdeva said this move would also send out a clear message that Delhi -- which recently witnessed the inauguration of the first barrier-free bus shelter -- really cares for its disabled.

Anjali Aggarwal of Samarthya said that besides making the plates in colour contrast for the benefit of those with low vision, efforts are also on to get audiometers -- which cost about Rs. 150 each -- installed in all the meters. "Just as you now have audio thermometers, calculators and watches, small modifications can be made which would allow audiometers to be installed in the electronic fare meters so that the visually impaired get to hear both the distance travelled and the fare to be paid by them. This will also save them from being cheated by TSR drivers," she said.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Organized Easter eggs hunt for visually impaired children

David Hyche has spent the last two months helping people hunt things.

Hyche, the agent in charge of supervising the church fire investigations for the Birmingham Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives division, has led his team through a massive search for answers since the blazes began in early February.

But as the fire case begins to wind down, he and his church, with help from his crime-solving colleagues, are part of a different sort of hunt -- an Easter egg hunt for visually impaired children.
“I’ve seen it done before in large cities like Washington, D.C., where they have beeping eggs for visually impaired kids to hunt,” said Hyche, whose 19-month-old daughter, Rachel, is blind. “It’s expensive to do, so it’s not done very often. And to my knowledge, it’s never been done in the state.”

But when the idea made its way to him, it found the right person. Hyche, a member of North Shelby Baptist Church in Birmingham, had good help at his fingertips.

“I asked the guys from the Hoover and Birmingham police bomb squads to come help, and they agreed before I’d even gotten the request fully out,” he said.

Officers swarmed the fellowship hall at North Shelby Baptist March 28, quickly falling into an assembly line of wiring batteries, circuitry and pulsating beepers together and drilling into 50 eggs holes large enough for intermittent beeps to escape.

“We tried a few of the eggs out with Rachel before today, and anything she didn’t destroy she thoroughly enjoyed,” Hyche said with a laugh. He turned to the group assembled and shouted, “My daughter is quality control and will be here in a few minutes to see if yours pass the test.”
The men laughed.

“I can imagine that it’s not really fun to be visually impaired and go to an Easter egg hunt,” Birmingham Sgt. Errol Culpepper said. “These eggs hopefully will help them be able to enjoy it.”
Hyche said when he thought of the project, he’d had his daughter in mind as well as the other children in his church and community who aren’t able to enjoy normal egg hunts. And getting the church on board with a separate hunt for visually impaired children in conjunction with their usual Easter egg hunt was a breeze. North Shelby Baptist already reaches out to those with special needs, Hyche noted.

“God has given us three visually impaired children in our church, and they are fully integrated and active in our church,” said Pastor Allan Murphy, noting that since Rachel and another family’s twin 9-year-old girls came to North Shelby Baptist, church members have been trying to give special attention to their needs.

The church has also become more sensitive to opportunities to minister to blind children and their families through the Alabama Association for Parents of children with Visual Impairments, a support network Hyche established.

“It has helped open our eyes to the needs,” Murphy said.

The congregation has since been exploring ways to reach out. Sunday School and Mother’s Day Out teachers offer tactile learning opportunities and lavish attention on the children, Hyche said. The church even has a full multivolume Braille Bible on hand.

And of course, there’s the Easter egg hunt, which will be held April 15 at a home near the church.
“It’s pretty difficult for a visually impaired child to find Easter eggs … well-meaning children will put their hands on the egg for them, and that doesn’t allow for the free participation, creativity and competition that kids love about Easter egg hunts,” Hyche said. “This will allow them to do it on their own.”

The “sighted” children will hunt first and then play on inflatables, while the visually impaired children have the hunt all to themselves.

A helper will go with each child to disable the beepers made by the bomb squads and replace them with candy.

“Families of visually impaired children have needs that are unique, and we are trying to serve and understand those specific needs in the best possible way to give them support,” Hyche said.

Donation made to visually impaired society

President of the Nevis Blind Light and Visually Impaired Society Jennifer Freeman has called on members of the public to join and give continued support to the Society.

She was at the time giving thanks to Cable and Wireless for their gifts of Dell Laptop computer and free Internet service on Tuesday at the Society’s office in Charlestown.

“We need more members. We need persons out there who are visually impaired to step up, don’t be ashamed, don’t be embarrassed make the Society continue to be a beacon that you can brighten the corner where you are,” she said.

Freeman registered the Society’s gratitude to Cable and Wireless for the gift but underscored the need for more electronic equipment which she said would contribute to the enhancement of the member’s skills not only for the benefit of the organisation but also for the general public as well.

Cable and Wireless’ Vice-President Corporate Communications Laverne Caines who was on hand for the presentation, said her company responded to a request from Freeman which she had made some months ago, during a monthly programme “Connections” aired on a local radio station.

“We are indeed very pleased with Cable and Wireless to offer this assistance to the Nevis Blind Light and Visually Impaired Society. We understand that this [Society] could easily become marginalised in our society because we are not yet at that level, where we take a lot of concern about this particular group of persons and we [Cable and Wireless] certainly would like to lead from the front.

Caines said people who are visually impaired have a right to employment and all other rights and privileges that people who have all their faculties in order do and that it was important that the Society was assisted. She said she was hopeful that the gift would bring some growth and development to the Society’s members.

Free postage for the visually impaired

THE Fiji Human Rights Commission has secured a limited deal with Post Fiji Ltd for free postage for the visually impaired.

The free service was previously limited to members of the Fiji Society for the Blind.
After the commission pursued the matter with the company, it was agreed that all disabled persons can take advantage of the privilege.

"Postal rates and conditions currently provide that blind persons can send a maximum of seven kilograms of literature for the blind to any destination in Fiji or abroad via surface mail free of charge," said the commission's spokeswoman Shobna Decloitre.

"However, this provision is not widely known and therefore not widely used. Consequently, visually impaired persons are denied access to postal services."

After receiving a complaint on postal concessions for the blind and following consultations with Post Fiji and stakeholders, all parties agreed that existing postal services for the blind could be better implemented so that all blind persons benefited from the provisions.

New technology now available for the visually impaired

Harris Corporation’s (NYSE: HRS) Broadcast Communications Division and National Public Radio (NPR) Labs will offer a technology-driven display at NAB2006 demonstrating how HD Radio can offer radio service to listeners who are hearing and/or visually impaired.

The demonstrations will take place at the Harris HD Radio™ display (Booth #C807 in the Central Hall). They will be staffed by members of NPR Labs, the advanced digital technology research and development center that is spearheading new public service technology initiatives on behalf of NPR and NPR member stations; by engineers from NPR Member stations; and by Harris staff.

Visitors will see a preview of captioned radio text for the hearing impaired, and extended hybrid mode operation of radio reading services for the visually impaired sent over the HD Radio air chain. The complete proof-of-concept design will feature Harris transmission equipment for insertion of the program material in the HD Radio multicasting stream, and Kenwood and Boston Acoustics radios to receive the dedicated Radio Reading Service channel and a radio captioning display of an NPR program.

Currently, many NPR Member stations broadcast Radio Reading Services for the Blind — a program which offers readings of books and publications over analog subcarriers — to approximately 1,000,000 weekly listeners, or 10 percent of the potential visually impaired audience. The addition of this service to the HD Radio multiplex of audio and text-based services will provide far easier access for listeners and increase reading service audience size. Similarly, the HD Radio multiplex can carry the new captioned radio text service to deliver news, weather, and other important information to the hearing impaired.

"These initiatives extend public radio’s mission to provide information services to all Americans," said Mike Starling, chief technology officer and executive director of NPR Labs. "Nearly 32 million people in the U.S. qualify as visually or hearing impaired, with that number growing significantly as baby boomers reach retirement age.

Radio’s transition to digital and the inherent capacity of the HD Radio system allow us to partition a portion of the Advanced Audio Services data stream to provide these specialized services. This solves many distribution and audio quality hurdles we’ve experienced with radio reading services in the analog realm and creates entirely new opportunities for radio captioning through the graphical capabilities of HD Radio text."

The demonstrations will use Harris’ end-to-end HD Radio solution, featuring a Z-Series™ digital transmitter and the FLEXSTAR™ family of HD Radio products. The FLEXSTAR HDI-100 Importer will send the services to the FLEXSTAR HDE-100 Exporter, which multiplexes the services with audio prior to distribution to the transmitter. A FLEXSTAR HDX-FM exciter will accept the services inside the transmitter and digitally prepare the signals for over-the-air HD Radio transmission to the Kenwood receiver.

"Harris and NPR have a long-standing relationship of innovative collaboration with new initiatives to advance digital radio," Starling added. "Our joint testing and promotion of the Tomorrow Radio Project proved the concept’s viability and proved so successful that it turned into the multicasting initiative now embraced in both commercial and public radio."

Hal Kneller, manager of public radio initiatives for Harris, has worked closely with NPR Labs on many projects, and is thoroughly familiar with the public service mission of public radio. "Both Harris and NPR have been very active in the support of Radio Reading Service initiatives," said Kneller, who currently sits on the IAAIS (International Association of Audio Information Services) board.

"This, along with the launch of the Tomorrow Radio Project several years ago, points to the overall industry leadership in which Harris and NPR share a common interest. We are privileged to work with NPR yet again on these important programming initiatives, and look forward to demonstrating how these initiatives can co-exist adjacent to mainstream audio services within the HD Radio multicasting environment."

Starling added that the introduction of these services will follow a multiyear developmental cycle currently underway. NPR Labs has also partnered with NPR station WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media — which introduced television closed captioning for the hearing impaired — as part of the demonstration and long-term accessible radio services development.

About NPR

Since its launch in 1970, NPR has evolved into a leading media company, primary news provider and dominant force in American life. In partnership with 815 public radio stations, it attracts almost 26 million listeners to the nearly 150 hours of broadcast programming it produces and distributes weekly. A privately supported, non-profit membership organization, NPR is also active in digital media through, its successful NPR Podcasts, two 24/7 NPR channels on Sirius Satellite Radio, and five 24/7 multicast music channels for HD Radio, a technology in which it has led industry research and development. NPR Worldwide serves nearly 150 countries with a full schedule of programming offered through terrestrial, satellite and digital radio; national cable, and American Forces Network.

About Harris Corporation

Harris is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. With headquarters in Melbourne, Florida, the company has annual sales of over $3 billion and more than 13,000 employees — including 5,500 engineers and scientists — dedicated to the development of best-in-class assured communications™ products, systems, and services. The company’s operating divisions serve markets for government communications, RF communications, broadcast communications, and microwave communications.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Missing visually impaired woman found dead

Mabel Jamieson, who was visually impaired, went missing a week ago.

Detective Sergeant John Wilson said police had searched more than 2000 properties since Mrs Jamieson went missing.

Mrs Jamieson's body was found between a garage and a boundary fence.

Mr Wilson said it appeared she had wandered off the footpath on to the property and because of her impaired sight, was unable to find her way out again.

He said the cause of death was not known, and a post mortem would be carried out today.
He said police were treating it as a "misadventure".

Entrepreneurship training for the visually impaired

Sheffield Students in Free Enterprise (Sheffield SIFE) has been established to promote student enterprise and social outreach programmes in the area.Sheffield SIFE is to be developed into a self-sustaining business devoted to encouraging community enterprise, led entirely by students from the University of Sheffield.

As a start-up business, Sheffield SIFE is organised with an executive board made up of students and a non-executive board of regional business figures.The non-executive board includes Sherry Kothari, from the White Rose Enterprise Centre, Tony Goulbourn, chief executive of the South Yorkshire Investment Fund, and Andrew Coombe, from Keeble Hawson Solicitors.

One initiative, led by Sheffield SIFE, entitled Business in Prisons, provides market research services for some of the 1,700 prisoners across the UK who are planning to create new businesses upon their release.Another scheme, the Visually Impaired Children's Enterprise Programme, works with visually impaired youngsters to help start up and mentor business plans in association with the Royal Society for the Blind.

A third scheme, the Sheffield Housing and Regeneration Project, aims to provide long-term housing solutions for Sheffield's homeless by converting derelict houses into liveable homes.Prof Bob Boucher, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: "It is essential that students today leave university with a sound head for business and confidence in the world of commerce. "Initiatives like this are an excellent way to build up those vital skills as well as give something back to the local community."

Tomas Tuominen, a second year student and Sheffield SIFE's managing director, said: "By supporting student-run enterprise and involving ourselves in hard-nosed business, we are set to become financially self-sustaining and fully able to provide unique services to local organisations and groups."The range of initiatives we are running reflects the existing level of imagination and flair in the team and this will continue to grow as our projects succeed."SIFE is a global organisation involving student entrepreneurs on more than 1,800 university campuses.