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Freedom Scientific Announces Secure and Compatible Braille Display Initiative

JAWS 11 to Offer Improved Security and Interoperability

(St. Petersburg, Florida - August 11, 2009)

Freedom Scientific, one of the leading providers of assistive technology for people who are blind, announced its Secure and Compatible Braille Display Initiative today.

The goal of this new program is to follow Microsoft's move to signed drivers to improve security and compatibility for customers who use a Braille display with JAWS®. Under this program, Freedom Scientific will test Braille displays to ensure compatibility with JAWS, and then digitally sign the driver. Starting with the JAWS 11 release later this year, only drivers that have been digitally signed by Freedom Scientific will work with JAWS.

"A digitally signed driver means you can be confident that the driver actually comes from the publisher it claims to and that it has not been altered," said Eric Damery, Vice President of Software Product Management for Freedom Scientific. "This is important, as one of the most insidious ways that computers come under attack is through malicious rootkits, programs that install at the device driver level and take over the entire system. Such programs can be very difficult to detect since they cannot be found with traditional security scans, such as anti-virus or anti-spyware programs."

For those currently using JAWS with 32-bit Microsoft Windows® and a Braille display whose driver was included in a previous English version of JAWS, there will be no change. Freedom Scientific will include signed versions of all those 32-bit drivers in JAWS 11. If you have questions about your Braille display, please call Freedom Scientific technical support.

However, all Braille display manufacturers will need to develop new 64-bit drivers to support 64-bit Microsoft Windows – most new computers now come with 64-bit Microsoft Windows preinstalled. To support this effort, Freedom Scientific created the Secure and Compatible Braille Display Program. The program provides a driver development kit for third party Braille display manufacturers and a test suite that Freedom Scientific will use to ensure compatibility with JAWS before digitally signing the driver.

Freedom Scientific is the first company in the industry to develop a signed driver program, which improves the security and compatibility of Braille displays.

Papenmeier, a German manufacturer of Braille displays, has already completed their 64-bit signed driver, and other Braille display manufacturers are actively working on 64-bit signed drivers for their Braille displays.

Dirk Kochanek, of Papenmeier in Germany, says, "We at Papenmeier appreciate the signed driver concept of Freedom Scientific. Signed drivers improve the security of operating systems and enhance the compatibility of hardware. This also can help the acceptance of screen reader solutions in the professional IT environment, especially with large employers. Papenmeier was the first company to have their drivers certified and signed by Freedom Scientific and is ready for 64-bit Windows operating systems."

About Freedom Scientific

Freedom Scientific is a leading worldwide brand of assistive technology products for those with vision impairments. Freedom Scientific is part of Vispero™. Vispero has its headquarters in the USA and the Netherlands, and offices in Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. Through Vispero's multi-tier distribution, Freedom Scientific products are available in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Freedom Scientific® and its products are registered trademarks in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.