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World’s First Portable Device for the Blind

Media Invitation
10 April 2000

NZ Company Launches World’s First Portable Device
for the Blind and Visually Impaired

When: Thursday, April 13 at 12.00pm – 1.15pm.
Where: Level 5, Microsoft House, 67-69 Symonds St, Auckland.

A Christchurch-based New Zealand company, Pulse Data International Ltd has worked with Microsoft to build the world’s first Window’s CE based portable computer for people who are blind. Complete with a built in modem, sophisticated email package, and word processor, BrailleNote allows for blind people to get connected no matter where in the world they are.

George Allen, program manager, Accessibility and Disabilities Group at Microsoft Corporation will be in New Zealand to provide a preview of this unique computing device together with Dr Russell Smith, Managing Director, Pulse Data International before it is launched in Europe later this month.

Microsoft New Zealand’s Managing Director Geoff Lawrie will also be at the launch to answer questions about Microsoft’s goal to use its products and services to narrow the ‘digital divide’ that confront people with disabilities, and the work Microsoft is doing to ensure that the blind and visually impaired are empowered through technology to better participate in employment, education and recreation opportunities.

Also present will be Marcel Oates Production Engineer of the Library Services of the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, who was the first blind person to be involved in the beta testing of the BrailleNote.

As a breakthrough product developed in New Zealand, BrailleNote will allow blind and visually impaired people throughout the world to work in a friendly and efficient way and to read and write documents and email, which can then be exchanged with any PC user. In particular the BrailleNote creates and reads Microsoft word documents directly.


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