Angie Bourdeau is an enthusiastic fifteen-year-old sophomore from Chicopee,
Massachusetts. She loves music and divides her spare time between singing in a chorus,
playing piano, and practicing Kung Fu. Angie has been blind since birth and has always
participated fully in mainstream public schooling.
Introduced to braille at the age of four, Angie is a very proficient braille reader and writer. In the eighth grade she began using a Braille 'n Speak(TM), a portable device about the size of a large wallet that combines braille input and speech output.
Wherever she goes, Angie Bourdeau carries her Braille 'n Speak, a portable device that can "speak" directional information from its files.
Using the Braille 'n Speak (which she can carry in her pocketbook), Angie can write class notes, homework assignments, and short papers in braille. The device also provides speech feedback so that Angie can monitor what she writes. After she has completed work, she can either load her files onto a desktop computer or connect the Braille 'n Speak directly to a printer. The device has braille conversion software that enables Angie to print out her work on either a braille embosser or conventional printer.
Video Clip (627K)
Angie finds the Braille 'n Speak more convenient to use than a standard personal
computer because it capitalizes on her facility with braille and has the flexibility of
pen and paper. Moving from one class to the next throughout each school day, Angie needs
the portability, flexibility, and speed provided by a Braille 'n Speak.
View Video Clip (260K)
In addition to using this tool in the classroom, Angie occasionally uses the Braille 'n Speak to navigate in the community. For example, when Angie forgets the location of a certain store in the mall, she calls up a file on her Braille 'n Speak that lists mall locations. Once the file is accessed, the device speaks this information to her, and off she goes.
A Braille 'n Speak can be connected directly to a conventional printer or braille embosser. Files created on a Braille 'n Speak can also be easily transferred to a desktop computer.
Angie is looking ahead to college, where she hopes to major in music. Because she will be required to write papers of increasing length in the next few years, a portable external disk drive with more storage capacity has been ordered for her Braille 'n Speak. To increase Angie's access to a broad range of materials, including encyclopedias, dictionaries, and databases, Angie's parents have acquired a CD-ROM drive and speech card for Angie to use at home.
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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts. NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013. Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information. If you do so, please cite NCIP. Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government. This site was last updated in September 1998.
ŠEducation Development Center, Inc.