Talking Tech - Vision Australia Radio

Talking Tech 2nd June 2020

June 2, 2020

In this weeks Talking Tech, David celebrates his 30 years at the RBS of NSW and now Vision Australia by discussing some of the tech highlights over his time working as a technology specialist.



With these notes, you get the whole list, enjoy.


Unusual or Meaningful Tech Over the Last 30 years


When I started work for the then RBS of NSW (now Vision Australia) on June 4 1990, my tech on my desk was a Keynote PC Plus based on a Toshiba 1000, a Braille & Speak note taker, and of course a telephone land line.


Tech sitting on my desk 2020 for general everyday stuff, iPhone, QBraille Braille Display, iPad, MacBook Pro, Surface Pro, Google Home, Amazon Echo, and HomePod: plus my audio studio setup for podcasting and my radio program.


In no particular order, this is a list of all the tech that I have personally used for both home and work over the last 30 years covering my time at both Royal Blind Society of NSW then  Vision Australia).


Where amazingly some of the tech still exists when it first came out and where it has evolved to current, I’ve put the updated version in the current lists as well.


Interestingly, there are over 10 products that are Assistive Tech related that have lasted the test of time and are in the old and current tech sections.


Where some of the products may not be that well known (at least according to me smile), I’ve put a very short blurb next to them.


Oddly or not, I wish some of the devices that are no longer around still were, as they did some great specific things.


For me, I think the main technology advances were:

Microsoft Windows 3.1 access (keeping in mind Outspoken had been out for a while for Macs) in the 1990’s,

Mobile and Smart phone access in the 2000’s (Talkback for Synbian and VoiceOver for iPhone) plus VoiceOver for the Mac in 2005,

Smart speakers and Smart home tech in 2010-2020.


Things we still need to conquer:

Ongoing message and change for accessibility across mobile/desktop apps, and the huge one, the web.

Access to self service kiosks.

Indoor navigation.

Accessibility in white goods.

Accessible EFTPOS terminals (Apple Pay sort of gets around this).

More audio described content on free to air.

Hate to pick out out Foxtel, but they sort of deserve it, an accessible Foxtel box.

One final point, we should be careful about assigning accessibility based on the fact that it works with one specific type of software, particularly in the screen reader industry.


  1. Old Tech


If you haven’t heard of some of this stuff, use good old Google, should still be some info floating around.  If it brings back hopefully good memory’s I’m glad.



Keynote PC Plus (Toshiba 100 laptop with Keynote note taking software and insult speech).

Keynote for DOS.

Keynote across portable devices (current today - BrailleNote Touch)).


Braille & Speak (Braille keyboard based simple note taker with speech).

Braille Lite (Braille & Speak with a 40 cell Braille Display).

Type & Speak (Braille and Speak with a QWERTY keyboard).


Inca QWERTY Keyboard for DOS (with two Braille display lines).


Navigater Braille display.


OutSpoken for Mac for System 6.07, 7 and 8.

OutSpoken for Windows.


Enlarge for Mac.


Closeview for Mac.


Artic Business Vision MSDOS screen reader.

Artic Business Vision internal PC Card.

Artic Transport (you could upload the screen reader to the MSDOS PC from the external synthesiser).

Artic Gizmo Pad (an external navigation keyboard for Artic).

Arctic Winvision for Windows.


Double Speak (external synthesiser).


Accent SA (external synthesiser).


Keynote Gold PCMCIA, PC or Keynote Gold external synthesiser (had driver to be made available to other screen readers).


Apollo external synthesiser.


Hal MSDOS screen reader (worked with the Apollo Synthesiser).

Hal for Windows (eventually became Supernova for Windows current today).


DECTalk Classic(very large external speech synthesiser.

DECTalk PC internal synthesiser card.

DECTalk Express external synthesizer.

DECTalk Access software synthesiser.


ASAP (As Soon As Possible) MSDOS screen reader.

ASAW ASAP for Windows).


JAWS For DOS MSDOS screen reader.

JAWS for Windows (current today).


Eloquence software synthesiser (Made famous when first worked with JAWS For Windows V3.2).


Vocal-Eyes MSDOS screen reader (could be configured).

Window-Eyes for Windows.


Master Touch MSDOS screen reader (could read direct video writes).

Master Touch Touch Tablet (25 line by 80 column tablet for navigating with Master touch cursor).


Dragon for DOS.

Dragon For Windows (current today).


Braille to Print for Perkins Brailler.


Jot A Dot (small Braille writer).


Kurzweil PC Reader (internal PC Card supporting the KPR OCR software).


Arkenstone Easy Reader OCR software.

OpenBook for Windows OCR software (current today).


Versa Braille (20 cell Braille note taker using cassette tapes).


Pac Mate note taker with 40 cell Braille Display.


Blazy Personal Embosser


Rainbow  Reader (stand alone reading machine).


Eureka A4 (personal Braille input keyboard note taker).  Oddly had a vault metre, and thermometer..


MountBatten Brailler, Braille Writer, embosser etc  (current Today).

Mimic for MountBatten, LCD display  (current Today).


Braille Mate (single Braille cell on a notetaker).


Light Probe (detects light source - current today).


ABC Courier (deaf/blind Communicator).

Telebraille, deaf/blind communicator.


Talking keyboard plug in box (made any keyboard speak that was plugged in to it).


Nomad tactile and talking diagrams.


Vista plug in PC screen magnifier for MSDOS, had own mouse.

ViewPoint Split PC/CCTV.


Magic for DOS.

Magic for Windows (no longer being upgraded).


Zoomtext for Dos.

Zoomtext for Windows (current Today).


Road Runner text reader.


Book Sense (book reader).


Plextalk Pocket (seems to be no longer available).


Parrot or later Voice Mate (record notes and appointments).


Voice Diary (record notes and appointments).


Olympus DM5 Digital Recorder (with inbuilt speech menus).


Business Memo (voice recorder).


IBM OS 2 Screen Reader for OS 2 and Windows 3.11 with dedicated external number pad keyboard which could also be programmed).


Home Page Reader (from IBM for reading the web - self voicing application for Windows).


PW WebSpeak (self voicing application for reading the web in Windows).


Narrator for Windows XP screen reader for Windows, used to be joked about that this was an example of a screen reader that wasn’t a screen reader.

Narrator for Windows 10 (current Today).


Talking Microwave late 90’s LG.

Talking Microwave 2020 Cobolt (current Today).


Talking Caller ID for land line.


Nokia Communicator 9210 with Talks for later Nokia phones.

Nokia N82 and other Nokia’s running Talks and the Symbian operating system.


Freedom Box talking interface to Windows - self voicing application, name later changed to System Access Mobile network.

System Access Screen reader for Windows (could also run off a USB stick).

SAToGo (run System Access from a Webpage).

System Access Remote Access Manager (remote PC support).


Guide Connect early 2000’s, later sold to Dolphin Systems.

Guide Connect (Dolphin Systems, simple to use menu driven self voicing application for Windows, current Today).


Speaking menus on iPod nano/Shuffle (speech came from PC).


Talking set top  box (Hills Set Top Box).


I can’t remember the name of this, but before land lines had a hands free speaker phone so you could instruct someone over the phone, there was a gadget that you placed the receiver of the phone on and it turned the phone in to a hands free phone for microphone and loud speaker.


  1. Current Tech


A few main stream bits and Bobs in here as well.


The first 13 or so products below, are listed in both sections and whilst they have ben updated or changed, are still around amazingly.


Keynote across portable devices (current today - BrailleNote Touch)).


JAWS for Windows.

JAWS Tandom (part of JaWS but fantastic tool for remote PC support).


Window-Eyes for Windows (this has only recently been discontinued).


Non Visual Desktop (NvDA) screen reader for Windows. Can be completely run as a stand alone screen reader.

Supernova screen reader for Windows.

Hal for Windows (eventually became Supernova for Windows).


Dragon For Windows.


OpenBook for Windows.


MountBatten Brailler.

Mimic for MountBatten.


Magic for Windows (no longer being upgraded).


Zoomtext for Windows.


Narrator for Windows 10 (happy to now call it a screen reader smile).


Guide Connect Dolphin Systems.

Dolphin Pod (use your TV to access entertainment options of Dolphin Guide Connect - plug in box).


Light Probe.


Plextalk Pocket (seems to be no longer available).


Victor Reader Stream.


Victor Reader Trek GPS.


Envoy Connect (basic daisy player.


Focus 14 and 40 Braille displays.


VoiceOver for Mac from 10.4.


VoiceOver for iPad nano, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Apple Watch, and Apple Tv.

Various iPod nano (latest version had version of VoiceOver on it before device was discontinued).

Various iPhones.

Various iPads.

Various iPod touch.

Various Apple TV.

Various Apple Watch .

Various AirPods.


Magic Trackpads and Magic Keyboards.


Wireless chargers.


Various Fitbits.


Be My eyes and Aira using 2 way video communication  via Smart phone for assistance.


Various tablet/phone stands.


Xbox One/One S (with Narrator).


Talkback for Android.

Voice Assistant on Samsung phones/Tablets, and Galaxy Watch.

Symapptic software for Android.


Various Macs (all Mac since 2005 with work laptop and current Surface Pro tablet).


Kindle eBook stand alone Readers.


Samsung Tab One (originally to drive my App driven coffee machine in 2017 and iOS version of the app was not accessible).


Samsung Galaxy S10 smart phone.


Surface Pro (Windows tablet).


Smart TVS (Samsung in particular).


RIVO keyboard (custom keyboard to navigate mobile platforms for iOs/VoiceOver, Android/Talks, and

Samsung/Voice Assistant).


Orbit Reader 20 (first cost effective Braille Display).


Brailliant BI14 small Braille Display.


ElBraille Windows 10 docking station with a Focus 14 or 40 Braille Display.


InsideOne Windows Braille TAblet with 32 cell Braille Display.


Tap With Us Wearable Keyboard supporting VoiceOver for iOS.


Dot Watch (smart Braille watch).


Sunu Band (wearable sonar device for O&M).


Mini guide (hand held sonar O&M device).


Buzz Clip (attach to clothing or cane sonar O&M device).


O6 (navigate iOS with VoiceOver).


Orcam OCR etc wearable device.


Accessible Radio (Sangean Accessible Radio).


Accessible Power Bank (Engergrid).


Large print USB keyboards black/white, white/black, yellow/black.


Code Jumper from APH for teaching coding.

Swift Playgrounds on iPad/Mac for teaching coding.

3D printing (Ballyland 3D objects to teach coding).

Dash robots for Swift Playgrounds

Tello Edu Drones for Swift Playgrounds.


Bose Frames (3D Audio Reality sun glasses).


Bone Conduction Head Phones (Aftershokz).


ID Mate Bar code scanner.


QBraille braille display and BT keyboard.


ViewPlus Embraille personal embosser.


Amazon Echo Dot, Echo Plus, and Echo Show.

Google  Home, Google Mini, and original Google Hub.



Olitech EasyFlip 4G Mobile Phone with speech/physical keyboard.


Smart Vision 2 Android phone with speech/physical keyboard.


Smart Home Tech: eg AC Controller for Split AC, video doorbell, switch’s, weather sensors, vacuum cleaner etc.


Tile Tag Tracking devices.


Beyond the usual assistive tech of screen readers. Screen magnifiers, Braille displays, Braille note takers, reading machines or OCR software etc etc, the devices that have stood out for me have been (and a few add ins here):

Outspoken for Mac,

Braille & Speak,

The ABC Courier,

Artic Business Vision/Winvision.

Vocal-Eys for MSDOS.

Master Touch.

IBM OS/2 Screen Reader,

Nomad Tactile Talking Diagrams.

Road Runner,

Arkenstone Easy Reader,

Mountbatten Brailler,

Talking Microwave,

Victor Reader Stream,

Victor Reader Trek,

ID Mate,

Talkback for Synbian,

Speaking menus in Nano,

VoiceOver for Mac and iOS,

Apple TV,




Apple Watch,


Swift Playgrounds.

Code Jumper,

3D printing,

Olitech 4G Easy Flip Phone.

Magic keyboards and Magic Trackpad,

App Store’s for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows.


Dot Watch,


RIVO Keyboard,

Tap With Us wearable keyboard,

Sunu Band and Mini Guide,

Aftershotkz Bone Conduction head phones,

Bose Frames.

JAWS For Windows and Eloquence,

Narrator for Windows 10,

Smart Speakers,

Smart TVS.

Be My Eyes and Aira.

Wireless charging.

Tile Tracking Tags.


The End



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