Summer 2017, Newsletter
Phone: (585) 244-0477
Letter From the Editor
Welcome to Portal Tutoring's Summer Newsletter. As usual, we have a great deal to tell you, but isn't that the reason for a newsletter? Portal Tutoring would like to tell you about what we've been up to this last several months. Most of what has happened is a direct result of the events of last year. Our new courses are a reality. Our experiences with technology have increased. We have also been taking part in webinars and attending podcasts which have expanded our knowledge and adding to our skills. As always, Portal Tutoring does this in order to offer our students the best training possible.
Last September, we wrote an article showcasing the Braille Explosion which took place at the CSUN Conference in March of 2016. Since that newsletter, we have been privileged to receive a gift from a dear friend of a BrailleNote Touch. The machine arrived in October, and it has become the cornerstone of Portal Tutorings Braille display options.
We spent the remainder of 2016 in getting to know The BrailleNote Touch. In January, we began training with a student who had purchased a BrailleSense. Unfortunately, it wasn't a good fit, and she sent it back and bought a BrailleNote Touch. I have been training this student to use the machine since May. My gift is beginning to show results.
In May, we were asked by The American Printing House for the Blind, APH, to beta test their Orbit Reader 20. This is a small Braille display which has twenty cells. It can be used as a reader for electronic Braille files, write simple notes, and it connects to computers and smart phones so that it can be used to both interpret the streens and activate apps. It has been a delight to put this new Braille display through its paces. I find the twenty-cell display to be very good as a reader. It connects with my computers and works very well as a Braille display. Since I gave up my iPhone, I have not been able to try it with an iDevice, but I hear from others that it works well. When I can purchase it, I will. It is supposed to be available soon. Once it goes on sale for the public, Portal Tutoring will be able to offer training in its use.
At the end of last April, an announcement came from the VFO group. It stated that Window-Eyes would no longer be sold by VFO. Window-Eyes is one of the four main Screen Readers used in the United States. It was originally manufactured and sold by GW Micro. Last Winter, GW Micro was bought out by the VFO Group who also owns Freedom Scientific, the manufacturers of Jaws, another screen reader. That means users of Window-Eyes have to scramble to find alternative screen readers if they intend to keep current with technology. Their choices are to go to Jaws, NVDA or System Access.
With this in mind, Portal Tutoring has been doing an independent study tutorial from NVAccess, the makers of NVDA, the free screen reader. We are more than halfway through this tutorial, and by the end of the summer, we should be fully conversant with this screen reader.
Many individuals who are blind or visually impaired are choosing NVDA in lieu of Jaws because VFO charges $1,200.00 for the professional version of this software. Although NYSCB is willing to provide Jaws to its clientele, many people who do not have a stated educational or vocational goal are in need of a screen reader. NVDA is free under the General Public License. Portal Tutoring is pleased to offer tutoring in learning how to use this free screen reader.
>h2 align="center">Course Offerings
As said above, Portal Tutoring plans to purchase the Orbit Reader when it comes out, and will be able to offer training in how to operate this new machine.
Because of our experience with the Touch and the fact that we possess both the complete tutorial from Mystic Access and the manual, we are pleased to offer training in the operation of the new Touch from Humanware.
As usual, we offer courses in Word, basic excel, PowerPoint and in Windows. Since last October, we've been using Windows 10, so we are prepared to offer training in this newest of Microsoft's operating systems.
We offer classes in both uncontracted and contracted Braille. Uncontracted Braille is useful for labeling, taking simple notes and for reading short pieces. Because of the prevalence of electronic Braille, one can read a book in uncontracted Braille if desired. This makes learning Contracted Braille desired but not a necessity. Therefore, Portal Tutoring offers both options so that students can learn as much Braille code as they want and still are able to read and write successfully.
Portal Tutoring still offers training in The Humanities, especially writing skills and in the physical techniques of writing including grammar and spelling. We continue to offer help in English and Social Studies to high school students
We would like to thank all our patrons for using us for your training needs. We continue to serve you, our students to the best of our ability. If you have questions about anything in this newsletter or about computer technology for the blind or visually impaired, don't hesitate to call us. We'll answer your questions or find someone who can.
Ann K. Parsons, tutor, CEO