Xerox demonstrates copier software for the blind

Xerox demonstrates copier software for the blind

Xerox Corp. today showed off new software that lets visually impaired users work the company's digital copiers through a connected PC and voice commands.

The software, called Xerox Copier Assistant, will go on the market April 1, and the company plans to add it to the General Services Administration schedule in the next couple of weeks. Xerox also plans to sell the software, which it says complies with Section 508, directly to federal agencies.

At a demonstration in Washington, Xerox officials showed how the Copier Assistant's synthetic voice talks a visually impaired user through the copying steps, including how to indicate the number of copies, reduce or enlarge printouts, staple, collate and add different covers.

'This thing will tell you everything,' said Brian Stroud, a sales and marketing assistant with the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, who is blind and demonstrated the product to agency procurement officers. 'It lets you know how to select what you want.'

This is Xerox's second version of the software. Nine blind and visually impaired testers rejected the first draft last year as illogical and difficult to use. After a second round of successful tests, the company decided to put it on the market, making it compatible with its Series 500 digital copiers.

'We are looking to expand this to other products,' said Kevin Warren, Xerox vice president for federal government operations. 'But we didn't want to hold up the release of this product.'

The software, which works only on Microsoft Windows 2000 or XP operating systems, runs on a PC that hooks into a copier through its Universal Serial Bus port. Not including the separate copier and computer, Copier Assistant will sell for $495.

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