IBM and Arkenstone Debut Software to Help People With Dyslexia Meet Reading Challenges

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SAN DIEGO - 22 Jun 1998: . . . Today at the National Education Computing Conference IBM* and Arkenstone, Inc., announced new software to help the estimated 7 to 50 million Americans with dyslexia read more effectively. Named WYNN*, for "What You Need Now," the easy-to-use application is the most comprehensive software reading and study tool available for people who suffer from dyslexia and other reading and comprehension challenges.

Using speech technology from IBM, "What You Need Now" can read electronic text aloud to the users, as well as spell and define words. Through a microphone that is included with the software users can insert voice notes into an electronic document. By simultaneously viewing the text and hearing it read aloud, people with dyslexia or other reading challenges can take advantage of both auditory and visual skills to better comprehend the material.

"What You Need Now" lets the users easily modify or customize the information on the screen by increasing the size, changing the character and word spacing or changing the colors of the information. By allowing for customization of the information on their screen, users can enhance their visual skills to better meet individual reading challenges.

"As an IBM Independent Series* Partner Solution, WYNN is an important addition to our software solutions for people with special needs," said Robert B. Mahaffey, special needs systems product planner, IBM. "With so many people facing reading challenges in our school systems as well as the workplace, we believe it is vital to provide PC software tools that will help them improve their reading and comprehension skills."

"What You Need Now" is an effective, easy-to-use reading or study aid because it allows the users to view both electronic and scanned pages, such as textbook pages or documents, which retain their original page layout. Through WYNN's Optical Character Recognition (OCR) feature users can scan printed documents into the application for viewing and modifying using common industry optical scanning hardware that is supported by the product. For users who do not require material to be scanned into the application, WYNN Reader is also available without the OCR, or scanning, feature.

"During the past few years, we've been developing WYNN with the assistance of people with dyslexia as well as educators across the nation. WYNN is the culmination of our research into what people with dyslexia need in a software tool," said Roberta G. Brosnahan, chief operating officer, Arkenstone. "Although WYNN is designed to help those computer users with a diagnosed learning disability, the software will also serve as a good tool for anyone who finds reading difficult."

The National Institutes of Health estimates that approximately 15 percent of the U.S. population is affected by learning disabilities, including reading and comprehension disabilities such as dyslexia, which results from differences in the structure and function of the brain. In addition, the British Dyslexic Association estimates that 4% of the population of the U.K. is severely affected by dyslexia. Common characteristics of dyslexia include lack of awareness of sounds in words, problems with reading comprehension and spelling, and difficulty learning and remembering printed words. WYNN was specifically designed to help children as well as adults compensate for these problems.

System Requirements, Pricing and Availability

"What You Need Now" is immediately available through Arkenstone, Inc. in U.S. English in many countries worldwide. Arkenstone's suggested retail price*** in the United States for WYNN Reader is $399.; WYNN OCR, which includes the technology to support industry scanning hardware is $995. School systems can purchase site licenses for multiple copies of WYNN. Special upgrade pricing is available to school systems and individuals using other Arkenstone reading software, such as Open Book. To purchase WYNN, customers can contact Arkenstone, Inc. at 800-444-4443 or 408-245-5900 to locate the nearest authorized dealer.

WYNN runs on an IBM or IBM-compatible Pentium personal computer running Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0 or higher, VGA video cards and monitor with 640 x 480 resolution and 256 color mode. Memory requirements include 16 megabytes of RAM (32 MB RAM recommended for Windows 95, 64 MB RAM recommended for Windows NT) and 45 MB of available hard disk space. For speech capabilities, a Sound Blaster or 100 percent compatible sound card is required.

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