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APH Recognizes TI's Innovation in Developing Graphing Calculator for Blind and Visually Impaired Students

Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator is an education game-changer for students with vision-related challenges

Oct 21, 2013

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Oct. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) has named Texas Instruments, the market leader in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) educational technology, as the recipient of the 2013 Zickel Award for its partnership with Orbit Research to develop the world's first fully-accessible graphing calculator for visually impaired students, the Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator (TGC). 

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20131021/DA00176)

Every year, APH bestows the Virgil Zickel Award to a company or individual whose creativity results in the development of innovative products that improve the quality of life for blind and visually impaired students. Based on the popular TI-84 Plus graphing calculator from Texas Instruments, the Orion TI-84 Plus TGC gives visually impaired students access to technology that allows them to interact with math and science without relying on sight to learn complex, abstract concepts. 

"Texas Instruments is honored to receive this award acknowledging our efforts to make STEM education accessible to all students," said Melendy Lovett, president of TI Education Technology. "The Orion's accessibility features adapted to the TI-84 Plus is leveling the playing field by providing access for the visually impaired to the same technology millions of sighted students are using in the classroom every day to gain a deeper understanding of math and science concepts." 

The Orion TI-84 Plus TGC consists of a compact accessory (the Orion) that is attached to the top of a TI-84 Plus graphing calculator. The Orion enables visually impaired users to interact with the calculator using speech, audio and haptic (vibration) feedback. All textual and symbolic information on the screen, as well as each key-press, is spoken using high-quality synthesized FonixTalk™ speech from SpeechFX™. Most importantly, graphs can be explored using either spoken announcements or the SonoGraph™ audio and haptic feedback.  The Orion TI-84 Plus TGC is fully expandable, supports hardware accessories through a USB port, and can print or emboss graphs when connected to a printer or braille embosser through a computer.

"We have been keenly aware of the need for an accessible graphing calculator technology for the blind, we have been overwhelmed by the response from teachers and students during field testing," said Dr. Gina Spagnoli, Orbit Research's founder.  "The Orion TI-84 Plus TGC is proving to be an invaluable tool for the visually impaired. Students have already shared so many stories with us on how this technology is bringing math concepts to life in ways that were out of reach to them until now."

Orbit Research and Texas Instruments plan to continue collaborating on accessibility features for TI handhelds specifically designed for the physically challenged. The Orion TI-84 Plus TGC is available for sale by contacting APH at http://shop.aph.org/. In addition to normal sales, this product is also eligible for purchase by APH Ex Officio Trustees through the federally funded Quota Program. 

About the American Printing House for the Blind:
APH, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is the world's largest company devoted solely to researching, developing and manufacturing products for people who are blind or visually impaired. Founded in 1858, it is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States. Under the 1879 federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind, APH is the official supplier of educational materials for visually impaired students in the U.S. and outlying areas who are working at less than college level.

APH produces textbooks and magazines in braille, large print, recorded and digital formats. APH also designs and manufactures hundreds of educational, recreational, and daily living products. For more information, visit www.aph.org.

About Texas Instruments:
Education Technology, a division of Texas Instruments, provides a wide range of advanced learning tools that connect the classroom experience with real-world applications and enable students and teachers to explore mathematics and science interactively. Designed with leading educators and researchers, TI's educational technology services are tested vigorously against recognized third-party research on effective instruction and improved student learning. For more information, visit www.education.ti.com. Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is a global semiconductor design and manufacturing company that develops analog ICs and embedded processors.  By employing the world's brightest minds, TI creates innovations that shape the future of technology.  TI is helping more than 100,000 customers transform the future, today.  Learn more at www.ti.com.

About Orbit Research:
Orbit Research develops and manufactures innovative and affordable products that enable an independent lifestyle for people who are blind or visually impaired.  Founded with the mission to fulfill the urgent need for affordable assistive technology products, the company has introduced breakthrough products like the Orion Talking Scientific Calculators and the iBill Talking Banknote Identifier that define the state-of-the-art in features, functionality, convenience and cost. For more information, visit www.orbitresearch.com.

About SpeechFX, Inc.:
SpeechFX, Inc., delivers embedded speech software, both text-to-speech and voice recognition for ARM-based, SH4 and DSP processors found in mobile devices, interactive software and video games. The Company owns proprietary speech and voice technologies, with seven issued patents.  For more information, visit www.speechfxinc.com

SOURCE Texas Instruments