Grants give schools an assist

Premier Programming Solutions, an assistive software provider, announced

July 1 that it will be distributing $6.5 million in a software grant program

aimed at assisting disabled individuals in primary and secondary schools

across the country.

From May 13 to June 30, school officials applied for the grants by explaining

how Premier Programming Solutions' Accessibility Suite would help them meet

the needs of students with learning or visual impairments or both.

"Our goal is to make classrooms totally accessible to all students,"

said Steve Timmer, the chief executive officer and founder of Premier Programming

Solutions. "We are putting assistive technology in the reach of those who

will benefit, especially those in our school systems."

Timmer said that money set aside for marketing and advertising was put

into the funding grant program. It was a noncompetitive grant, so those

who applied will receive the technology.

"Most of the people exposed to our software in schools end up buying

the products for their own personal use," he said. "Since we license to

individuals, they can take advantage of the software at home, at work —

anywhere." It is a different kind of marketing strategy, he added.

The software titles in the Premier Programming Solutions Accessibility

Suite include the following:

* Text to Audio Version 5.0, an application that converts documents

and other printed materials into audio files.

* Scan and Read and Scan and Read Professional, two reading tools that

convert scanned books or other documents into spoken text.

*Text Cloner and Text Cloner Professional, two optical character recognition

tools that provide a nonverbal alternative to Scan and Read.

* Complete Reading System, a reading package designed for people who

do not use computers. It eliminates the need for a screen reader and a mouse.

* Talking Word Processor.

* Scan and View, a product that converts a computer and scanner into

a closed circuit television.

* Screen Magnifier, for enlarging screen images of from two to 16 times.

* Screen Reader.

* Talking Web Browser.

* Talking Calculator.

Thanks to Premier's Breaking Down Barriers to Assistive Technology Grant,

more than 5 million PCs in 300 school districts nationwide will have access

to the software by September. "We were absolutely shocked at the demand,"

Timmer said.

As of last week, 25 percent of the orders were shipped to grant recipient

schools. By the end of July, the remaining orders will be sent and delivered

for an anticipated school start in September.

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