Bits & Bytes
THESE KEYBOARDS CAN TALK TO DISABLED PEOPLE
With the recent Americans with Disabilities Act, many businesses are trying to update their workplaces. In addition to installing ramps and elevators, that can also mean adding new office equipment such as a TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf). Such terminals handle calls from the estimated 25 million speech- and hearing-impaired individuals in the U.S. But instead of cluttering up employees' desks with another piece of equipment, Hitec Group International Inc. has come out with what may turn out to be a more elegant solution.
The Darien, Ill., company recently introduced KEYPlus, a keyboard that looks like any other designed for IBM PCs. But this one actually doubles as a TDD terminal, too. It plugs into any phone system, including the private branch exchanges (PBXs) commonly used in larger organizations, and has standard TDD features such as a liquid-crystal-display screen to keep track of typed conversations. The company says that the $799 keyboard doesn't require any special software. Nor does it interfere with normal PC operation. EDITED BY PAUL M. ENG