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November 24, 2003

gh makes reading more efficient for people with disabilities

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue Research Park company, gh LLC, has added new features to its software designed to make print material easier to read for those with disabilities.

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gh LLC, an information technology company, is launching the second version of its digital talking book software, called gh PLAYER™. The improved product combines a variety of accessibility features with affordability, said David Schleppenbach, gh's CEO and co-founder.

"The gh PLAYER™ 2.0 is the most advanced software for digital talking books on the market," Schleppenbach said. "Great strides are being made in the disabilities industry to make learning more enjoyable for people who aren't able to read in traditional ways.

"In addition, the gh PLAYER™ incorporates new features that, if sold separately, would cost more than $2,500 and require multiple software applications. Our application is an affordable, all-in-one solution that doesn't require additional assistive software technology to operate."

gh projects that its player will cost $200 to $300, depending on the packaged features.

Using a proprietary media conversion process, gh creates digital talking books that allow people with print disabilities access to information. Print disabilities include visual impairments, learning disabilities, cognitive impairments, mobility impairments (i.e. people who cannot physically turn pages), those learning English and people with literacy problems.

Viewed with the gh PLAYER™, a playback application, the company's digital talking books offer audio, text and images that work in concert with each other.

Key features on gh PLAYER™ 2.0 include text-to-speech functionality and digital magnification, meaning readers can "see" images on the screen with the software's ability to provide verbal descriptive narratives and digital zooming.

The software also is equipped with enhanced search and navigation modes that enable users to move through digital talking books by page, section, segment or word and – for audio books – in five different increments of time. This function keeps readers from being frustrated with time wasted trying to find the passage of text they want to re-read.

"Imagine navigating a book on the computer and getting exactly where you need to go without the frustration of losing your place," Schleppenbach said. "You don't have to start at the beginning of a chapter or paragraph every time you want to hear the last sentence or word that was read. Just push a button and you are there."

In addition, the gh PLAYER™ 2.0 includes a bookmarking tool that enables readers to mark noteworthy pages and a note-taking feature that allows users to add notes to any page and have them voiced back.

Other features enable users to enhance contrast, synchronize text highlighting, choose from six preset colors or a customized background, choose font color, select from six different high-quality, digital voices and volumes, and adjust the rate at which a book is read.

Because this version of gh PLAYER™ supports PowerBraille 80, PowerBraille 65 and Braille Star 80 refreshable Braille displays, users can read digital talking books by following along with Braille in "real-time" as the book is read aloud. In addition, the software offers users more than one type of Braille, depending on the user's reading level.

The gh PLAYER™ 2.0 is compliant with standards (ANSI/NISO Z39.86-2002) adopted by the DAISY (Digital Accessible Information SYstem) Consortium and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO), which define the format and content of the electronic file set that comprises a digital talking book. The gh PLAYER offers support for DAISY 3.0/NISO books and DAISY 2.02 audio books.

gh is located in the Purdue Research Park, which encompasses 591 acres in West Lafayette, and is home to the largest university-affiliated, state-of-the-art business incubator complex in the nation. Within the park, 104 businesses, of which 58 are high-tech, employ more than 2,200 people.

Writer: Jeanine Phipps, media relations, Purdue Research Park, (765) 494-0748, jsphipps@purdueresearchfoundation.org

Source: Dave Schleppenbach, (765) 775-3776, engage@ghbraille.com

Brad Hosack, gh marketing, (866) MY-3-DOTS, info@ghbraille.com

Ashley McWhirter, a student from Indiana School for the Blind, works with software developed by gh LLC. McWhirter and several classmates visited the Purdue Research Park company with their teacher Pam Taylor. (File photo illustration/Dave Umberger

A publication-quality photo is available at https://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/gh.blindstudent.jpeg