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LOW-INTEREST LOAN HELPS BLIND TO BUY READING COMPUTER

SHARE LOW-INTEREST LOAN HELPS BLIND TO BUY READING COMPUTER

A special, low-interest loan fund has been established to help blind and visually impaired people purchase a portable computer system that scans and reads typewritten or typeset print aloud.

The $2 million fund, made possible by a $1 million-each commitment from the American Foundation for the Blind and the Xerox Corp., guarantees low-interest loans to help purchase the Kurzweil Personal Reader at a 30 percent discount. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate a need for the machine in education, employment (including self-employment) or community service work, as well as financial need and the ability to handle the carrying costs of the loan.Applications are screened by the foundation, then directed to the Bank of Boston for final credit review and approval.

So far, the loans have benefited a businesswoman in Philadelphia, a Texas law student, a New York City social worker, a communications professor from North Carolina and a high school student in Louisiana.

The Personal Reader can include a hand-held scanner, a desktop scanner or both. It reads material aloud in one of nine voices at various speeds and can ask the machine to spell out words, note punctuation and repeat portions of material. Information can be stored as a text file for later retrieval or conversion to braille, or can be sent directly to a word processor for editing.