Author Archive for Mr. Stomp


Reelabilities: Film Festival

reelability logoInitiated by The JCC in Manhattan in 2007, ReelAbilities presents award-winning films made by and about people with different disabilities—from autism to bipolar disorder, from cerebral palsy to blindness. Through film, ReelAbilities also reaches beyond the disability community and manages to bridge gaps by engaging film lovers and audiences from all walks of life.

The festival is part of a movement to bring awareness and enlightenment about people living and thriving with disabilities—building on the cultural shift that is no longer keeps disability behind Hollywood’s glittering lights. Michael J. Fox, a beloved actor with Parkinson’s disease, is acting in his own primetime network show; Showtime’s critically acclaimed hit show “Homeland” features Carrie, a CIA agent played brilliantly by Claire Danes, whose bipolar disorder offers her gifts and struggles; and more feature films than ever before, like those featured in ReelAbilities, explore how our differences make us strong.

Read More>>>>>>>

 Slate of Films

A WHOLE LOTT MORE / Victor Buhler, Documentary, 83 min, USA, 2013

BIPOLARIZED / Rita Kotzia, Documentary, 76 min, USA, 2013

CINEMABILITY / Jenni Gold, Documentary, 98 min, USA, 2013

DO YOU BELIEVE IN LOVE? / Dani Wasserman, Documentary, 50 min, Israel, 2013

FIXED: THE SCIENCE/FICTION OF HUMAN ENHANCEMENT / Regan Brashear, Documentary, 60 mins, USA, 2013

GABRIELLE / Louise Archambault, Narrative, 104 min, Canada, 2013

HERE ONE DAY / Kathy Leichter, Documentary, 76 min, USA, 2013

INVITATION TO DANCE / Simi Linton & Christian Von Tippelskirch, Documentary, 75 min,

IT’S ALL ABOUT FRIENDS / Lena Koppel, Narrative, 91 min, Sweden, 2013reel

LITTLE WORLD / Marcel Barrena, Documentary, 83 min, Spain, 2013

LOST AND SOUND / Lindsey Dryden, Documentary, 76 min, UK, 2012

RUN & JUMP / Steph Green, Narrative, 105 mins, USA/Ireland, 2013

STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS / Sam Fleischner, Narrative, 107 min, USA, 2013

TOUCH OF THE LIGHT / Rong-ji Chang, Narrative, 110 min, Taiwan, 2013

Note: ReelAbilities Traveling Program is presented with the support of The Saul Schottenstein Foundation B


Disability News Today — 3 items

1.  Disney reforms disability access policybarred

Disneyland and Disney World have been having abuses to their disability policy, and now they have made a change.  Read more>>>>

2.  Disability Film Festival
From November 17-20, the 3rd International Disability Film Festival “Breaking Down Barriers” was held in Moscow at the movie theater Salyut, still one of the most accessible movie theaters in town. More than 1,500 people attended the four day event.  Viewers included teachers, social protection officials, students of film and social work, special educators, disability activists and other members of the community.

The festival showcased nearly 100 films from Canada, France, South Africa, Georgia, Russia, the U.S., Italy, Mexico, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, the UK, Austria, Mexico, Germany, and India.  Films were short and long features, documentaries, animation, films for children, about children, public service announcements, and more.  The films from 20 countries competed for 11 awards.  The awards were selected by a distinguished jury of Russian film-makers, chaired by the famous Russian director, writer, producer and actor, Aleksander Mitta, who graduated from the well-known All-Russian Cinema Institute in 1960.  He is also a recipient of the distinguished Russian Film Award, 2001, TEFI. In 2004 he was awarded the title “Most Popular Artist of Russia.” At the start of the festival, Mr. Mitta was interviewed by national Russian TV.  On National TV Mr Mitta remarked: “These are films about disabled people, but they are not for them, they’re for us.  You get such a sense of fullness from them …And it’s all true.”Read more about the Moscow Film Festival…

  1. Scholarships for Folks with Disabilities

Detail: The MassMutual Scholars program is a national scholarship program for eligible students interested in careers in the insurance and financial services industry.

This year, MassMutual awarded $2,500 and $5,000 scholarships to 31 high achieving college students to help them pursue their higher education dreams. Student applicants were evaluated on their academic performance, commitment to education, and financial need, as well as a personal essay in which many shared poignant stories about their desires to achieve a degree and their need for assistance.

Read More>>>>>


Portable Quick Reading Solutions for Low Vision

Are you looking for a reading solution that is simple to use and easy to set up?  I’ve been asked for a low vision solution for a student, one which lets the student read the materials on a screen while listening to the material.  At our school the process is less than completely independent for students, and we do not check out equipment like this, but as the student is most likely to soon be a client of the state department of rehabilitation, I thought I’d look at some of the available products on the market.

Side Note:  This review is non-conclusive at this moment, as I was not able to hands-on test the equipment to see how they handled curvature from book bindings or other more difficult to scan materials. Many issues are involved with converting text including font styles, clarity of the material being scanned, curved gutters, and book layouts and design.

  1. Picture of the Ai Squared ImageReader unitZoomtext Image Reader

ImageReader is a software and camera solution that makes printed text accessible to people who are visually impaired, including books, magazines business documents and more. Put the printed item underneath the included HD document camera, snap a picture, and a few seconds later the text appears in large, high-contrast fonts and is read aloud in natural-sounding voices.

In addition to printed text, ImageReader can also capture and read text from image files, the Windows Clipboard or right off of your computer screen; great when reading graphical text from electronic documents and webpages.

ImageReader comes with a choice of two different document cameras, one for capturing letter-sized pages and another for legal-sized materials.  These cameras are slim and lightweight and mount above a mat that lets the user know how large an area will be captured, so the cameras limited on the size of materials you can read.  Video Demonstration>>>>>>>

The cost of this unit is listed at $795 for the smaller unit and $849 for the larger.   This includes the software.  Owners of Zoomtext 10 save $250 when buying the unit.  The software for the unit also runs off the Zoomtext toolbar.  The large unit can capture many two page books each snap.

More technical issues:

The smaller unit is very light to carry, weighs 1.8 pounds (800 grams), has a 5.0 megapixel camera.  The interface is USB 2.0.  The larger weighs in at 2.65 pounds (1200 grams).

Picture of the Pearl book reader2.  Pearl Reading Solution for Freedom Scientific

Pearl USB less than two pounds.  Allows for a split view on the laptop screen.  12 by 9 inch reading space – the same as the ImageReader smaller unit.  The price is also $795 for this unit. They do not offer a large scanning placement like the ImageReader, so large materials would be more difficult to read. Openbook software is what drives the reading.  The software traces the word as it is reading.  It can also show you the picture of the material it is reading, and highlights on the page, but it doesn’t enlarge in this layout. The product is not like ImageReader in that it doesn’t work with Freedom Scientific’s enlargement product, open book.  But the text can be enlarged inside openbook.

Video Demonstration>>>>>>>

Other Solutions

Other combinations of software can create a reading environment for someone with low vision.  The problem is whether or not that solution meets all the needs of someone – it depends a lot of what vision they have.  Openbook is great for people who are blind, and has been a reading solution for those who are blind for many years.  Kurzweil 1000 is another product that can be used.  You need a scanner to work with them usually.  Pearl gives one the ability to have a camera as we have already covered.

If you have a computer and a reading solution already, you might check to see if your product has been develop to use a camera like ImageReader and pearl.

Some folks with the right level of vision can make use of standard ocr software such as abbyy fine reader or Omnipage to do the scanning, but they still need a text to speech component.  Students here can use Kurzweil 3000 and/or ReadNWrite gold for both scanning and reading.  The options offered our student allow them to cut the cost.  But for independence student often want to have the ability to scan their own materials.  That’s why these camera units are so valuable.

My preference was for the ImageReader because of one simple fact, it worked directly with Zoomtext enlargement software and had a feature to automatically convert and read materials as you go.  I did like the click feature the Pearl had – announcing when to change the page by making the electronic click noise.  Both seemed quite easy to carry, and would easily be accommodated in a backpack, rollerbag or large purse.

If you know about other reading solutions for those with low vision that are portable, please let me know by adding a comment.  If this post is helpful to you, please “like” it above.


NOTE:  We are not associated with any of the product vendors in any of the reviews we do on assistive or adaptive technology.


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