PAC Mate with JAWS® for Pocket PC Technology
PAC Mate - The world's first
accessible Pocket PC device for those who are blind.
In October 2002,
Freedom Scientific launched a successful breakthrough in assistive
technology when we introduced the PAC Mate. Since then, the reaction has
been overwhelming. The following is a handful of the many frequently
asked questions we've received since the world's first accessible Pocket
PC hit the market.
What is PAC Mate and what makes it different from notetakers?
is impossible to compare PAC Mate to the notetakers or personal data
assistants that currently exist. Essentially, it functions as a portable
computer for those who are blind and provides a link between everyday
desktop applications and the needs of busy lifestyles.
This is the first
blindness product that is tightly interwoven with off-the-shelf
Microsoft® Pocket PC applications. It includes, but does not rely on
proprietary applications, but capitalizes on the resources of Microsoft
and the other companies who are building hardware and software for the
Pocket PC and Windows® CE platform.
PAC Mate gives you
the unbeatable combination of three leaders in their respective fields;
the perfect partnership between the capabilities of Freedom Scientific,
the application prowess of Microsoft, and the hardware processor power
How does PAC Mate integrate applications that were developed for sighted
This is where Freedom Scientific was at an advantage. Utilizing JAWS
which was already developed for Windows, we were able to capitalize on
that same capability to support Windows® CE and the applications that
have already been built for the handheld devices used by sighted
individuals such as the Compaq iPaq. And the powerful scripting
capability of JAWS allowed us to customize those applications to be
productive for the blind even though they had never been developed with
accessibility in mind. But, because of the technological expertise of
our developers, we were successful in creating a device that will
ultimately take the place of laptop PCs for blind individuals.
So JAWS is, in effect, the backbone of making PAC Mate work?
Yes. There is no other screen reader that does what JAWS can do in the
PC environment with Windows applications, Braille composition and speech
output. When Freedom Scientific was successful making JAWS technology
work in the Windows® CE operating system, we knew that the marriage
would be revolutionary.
Does this mean that Eloquence is the speech synthesizer?
Yes, and in multiple languages. We will continue to add more languages.
Aren't there similar products that claim to run on the Windows® CE
Again, there is no product comparable to PAC Mate. There's nothing like
it in the world. The current technology in conventional standard
notetakers with the Windows® CE platform cannot support any of the
Pocket PC suite of applications. These typical notetakers depend solely
on their own proprietary software to perform all application functions.
You said PAC Mate would have applications available other than the
Pocket PC options?
Absolutely. Freedom Scientific understands that there are specific
applications that are important for users who are blind and otherwise
unavailable in the consumer PC market. We will continue our long
tradition of adding superior custom crafted functions and features
specifically for those who are blind, giving users the ultimate in
choice. Some of these applications will include a traditional style
calculator, an editor that supports linear formatting, and a clock and
What will be the order of release of the PAC Mate family?
are taking orders for the PAC Mate Portable Braille Display. These 20-
or 40-cell Braille Displays attach to either the PAC Mate BNS with
Braille in and speech out capabilities or the PAC Mate TNS with a
QWERTY-style keyboard with speech output. An integrated version is next
Does this mean the end of Freedom Scientific's current notetaker line?
not at all. And this goes back to need and familiarity. One of the prime
markets for the PAC Mate is for those customers who are already familiar
with PC applications or have a desire to learn Windows applications.
This will be the perfect choice for those who are in professional or
educational environments where Windows is the operating system of
choice. With PAC Mate, they will have the highest level of interface
with their PC running Windows, or others working on the same assignment.
notetakers are ideal for those who are familiar and comfortable with
current notetaker technology, but are looking for additional
productivity features such as rapid navigation and email capabilities,
to name a few.
Will there be Internet access with the PAC Mate?
Yes, there are Internet capabilities in PAC Mate. Because of changing
technology, Freedom Scientific engineers wanted to give users the choice
of purchasing a modem that best fits their needs and budgets. With the
PC card connection on the PAC Mate, users can purchase a modem of their
choice, whether it is dial-up or broadband. In addition, this is the
first unit to access streaming media with synthesizer speech on the same
sound card. In other words, users can continue to use the speech
function while listening to Internet broadcasts through Pocket Internet
PC card connection
allows users to purchase peripherals they need, such as a modem,
micro-drive, Ethernet card, Wireless LAN card, Bluetooth, cellular modem
and others. By providing the open architecture with the PC card, PAC
Mate has the flexibility to always stay up to date with the latest and
What types of ports are included in the hardware design?
There is a USB port for connection with desktops, laptops, printers and
other devices in either host or client mode. There also is an infrared
port that will allow the user to transfer files between PAC Mate and
other PC products. As an example, a person can transfer an Excel
worksheet from his or her PAC Mate to a desktop PC or laptop, or vice
versa. The exchange of documents can even be accomplished wirelessly. As
you can imagine, this provides extraordinary document management within
the Windows environment.
We have also
included a Compact Flash™ port for unlimited document storage capacity
when used with commercial data storage cards and a serial port for use
in those circumstances where a USB and an infrared port are not
applicable for connectivity.
What makes navigation with the PAC Mate so superior?
PAC Mate BNS is the first unit of this size with a Cursor Cross for
two-dimensional navigation. It has a redesigned eight-dot keyboard
arranged to match the natural placement of fingers. In addition, the
function keys are located for easy reach, but out of the way to avoid
accidental activation. The PAC Mate TNS will give users the ability to
set up familiar, standard JAWS commands. Our engineers and developers
solicited input from focus groups in order to design the unit for the
most efficient navigation possible.
PAC Mate input and output in Grade 2 Braille?
PAC Mate was
designed to write or output in Grade 2 Braille without the cumbersome,
multiple keystrokes found currently in traditional notetakers. For
example, when in Pocket Word, the user is just two keystrokes away from
writing in Grade 2 Braille and one keystroke translates the file to or
from Grade 2. This easy conversion also is available in Pocket Outlook
and FS Editor, Freedom Scientific's proprietary word processing program.
How big is the PAC Mate?
has a unique, compact design. It's approximately 10 inches across at the
bottom of the unit and approximately 6 inches in height, and weighs a
little more than 1-½ pounds with the user-replaceable battery installed.
The TNS model is 12 inches across and 6 inches in height and weighs just
more than 2 pounds with the battery.
What about the user-replaceable battery?
This is a great feature, and one customers will love for at least two
reasons. First, it provides them with the opportunity to purchase
additional batteries to assure power is always available. Second, they
never have to return their unit for battery replacement. There is no
special battery charger unit to worry about. The charge takes place
directly into the PAC Mate.
What is the power storage of the battery?
continue to make refinements and are targeting 18 hours, during typical
usage. However, it is conceivable, and our engineers are optimistic that
it could be more.
Will PAC Mate be able to work with a Global Positioning System?
Yes. We anticipate announcing an optional GPS component that will
provide orientation by describing surroundings and assist in directing
users to a predefined location. We anticipate releasing sometime in
How much will the PAC Mate cost?
Mate BNS and TNS will be priced at $2,595. This includes the carrying
case but does not include the modem. The optional modem will be $155
(56K or Ethernet). The PAC Mate 20-cell Portable Braille Display is
$1,995 ($1,895 for existing PAC Mate owners, or for those who purchase
the Portable Braille Displays along with a PAC Mate). The PAC Mate
40-cell Portable Braille Display is $3,995 ($3,695 for existing PAC Mate
owners, or for those who purchase the Portable Braille Displays along
with a PAC Mate). You can offset the cost by trading in an older model
Freedom Scientific notetaker. Depending on the trade, you can save up to
$800. Prices are in U.S. dollars and are subject to change.
Will there be maintenance agreements available as with other Freedom
Yes, we are offering a Product Maintenance Agreement for both models.
The cost is $175 annually at the time of the initial purchase and $225
annually after you buy. The PMA for the braille displays are $250 for
the 20-cell unit and $450 for the 40-cell unit. We also are offering an
Annual Software Agreement, so you may receive the latest versions of
Freedom Scientific PAC Mate software. For complete information on
Product Maintenance agreement you can access
PMA. For more details on the ASA access: