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FutureStarrLarge Print Graphing Calculator
The Large Print Graphing Calculator assists in performing arithmetic operations, trigonometry, and plotting graphs. This calculator has a printable function key to have the results appear on a larger number pad. This calculator is able to perform the following operations: subtract, subtract with carry, multiply, multiply with carry, divide, divide with borrow, square root, and logarithm.
The Orion is 9.3 inches by 3.5 inches by 1 inch, and it weighs roughly twelve ounces. One quirky aspect is the device needs two power sources to be operational: the Orion's 11-key, "add-on" component's internal battery charges via an AC adapter, while the main portion uses four AA batteries. The calculator has one serial and two USB ports as well as an earphone jack. It has an LCD screen that is approximately 2.8 inches diagonally. While there is an option to change the contrast level of the screen (not much range here, though), the font size is fixed at approximately 12-point for calculations on the home screen and around 9-point for numbers along the XY axes of graphs. When purchased from APH, the Orion costs $599.00, which includes the calculator and its protective cover, batteries, USB cable, earphones, and user manuals. The Orion uses the synthetic text-to-speech (TTS) FonixTalk software from SpeechFX. Its quality is comparable to that found with the JAWS screen reader, with clarity similar to the JAWS default eloquence speech engine. There are options to mute; pause; change the volume, rate, and pitch of speech; and select different voices (male, female, young male child, young female child). You can navigate any of the text that's displayed on the screen by character, move to the beginning or end of a line, move up or down a line, or have all the lines read aloud. A peculiar aspect of the Orion is that the device has two arrow keypads, one located on the "add-on" component and one for the main portion of the calculator that often perform different functions. For example, when in the y=x pre-graph screen, the "add-on's" arrow keypad moves through the text of the equation you have typed, whereas the arrow keypad located on the main portion of the calculator allows you to move away from this text to change equation settings. One minor drawback of the audio is the limitations of the volume adjustment; its lowest setting is still fairly loud. Also, it would be useful if the volume were adjustable in smaller increments.
The state-of-the-art feature, of course, is the ability of the Orion TI-84 to convert the visual aspects of a graph into alternate mediums, one being audio, which is accomplished through the use of either speech or tones. While there are different screens for displaying a graph, the trace screen will be most often viewed by users with visual impairments because it allows you to navigate point by point on a scatterplot or along a line. When on the trace screen, you use the main portion's left and right arrow keys to move from point to point. If you are in speech mode, each press of an arrow will announce the point's coordinates, e.g., "x=4.1000, y=0.1234." If you are in tone mode, each press of the left or right arrow key produces tones of varying pitch as well as the absence or presence of "static," where the calculator both vibrates and emits noise. In tone mode, you can also have alerts played when the cursor crosses the X or Y axis. (In the Orion's settings menu, you can change the duration of tones, toggle X or Y axis crossing indicators, and toggle crossing gridlines indicators.) So basically, a tone tracing of a graph is where the cursor begins at the leftmost point and moves across the graph to the right, with the pitch of the tone indicating the vertical location of the cursor on the Y axis, and with static/vibration designating the cursor's position relative to the X axis.Scientific Notebook (SNB) is another software package. SNB is much more than a graphing scientific calculator. It is also a math/text processor, so your student could do all of his assignments, calculations, and graphs in one document directly on the laptop. It has onscreen magnification up to 400%, or magnification software may be used. In addition, the student can customize his own style of document up to a font size of 72, which will print at that size as well.Over the past few years, the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) have become hot topics among people with vision loss. Being visually impaired, I was delighted when I discovered that the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and Orbit Research had formed a partnership to create an accessible version of the TI-84 Plus graphing calculator by Texas Instruments. This article gives the lowdown about this exciting, innovative product. The Orion TI-84 Plus Talking Graphing Calculator is almost an exact replica of the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus graphing calculator used by sighted students, except the Orion has an additional "add-on" component consisting of11 additional keys located above the calculator's display screen. The keys on the Orion are fairly easy to distinguish by touch, with variation from convex to concave for quick recognition. For even more tactile discernment a nib could be added to the 5 key on the number pad. The background and text of the keys vary in color, including white, black, grey, blue, and green. Some of these background/text pairings result in a high contrast scheme, such as the black text used on the white keys of the number pad, but others (like the blue text used to designate the second functions of keys), are more difficult to see. The text size used for the keys ranges from 7- to 12- point. (Source: www.afb.org)