(StatePoint) Demand for public transportation is on the rise. In fact, 10.7 billion trips were taken on public transportation in 2013, the highest in 57 years, according to the latest statistics from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA.) Even those who drive should take note of these statistics, which show that communities that invest in public transportation stand to gain. APTA figures point to a four-fold economic return on investment for every dollar spent on public transportation. “Where public transportation goes, businesses thrive, property becomes more attractive, and tax revenues increase,” says Michael Melaniphy, President and CEO of APTA. Substantial and robust public transportation infrastructure is one key innovation that helps to support economic growth in local communities, say experts. With federal funding for public transportation poised to be a critical issue for Congress this year, public transportation advocates are calling for funding legislation that is reliable and sustainable in order to plan, build, maintain and repair these systems. “As we approach the May 31 deadline for a new surface transportation bill, it is critical that our national leaders come together to create legislation that will ensure years of economic growth and opportunity for communities across the country,” says Melaniphy. Here are several ways such investment in public transportation could affect an individual community: • If you are a homeowner, public transportation in a community could spell financial security during times of economic uncertainty. Residential property values performed 42 percent better on average during the last recession if they were located near public transportation with high-frequency service, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors and APTA. • Seventy percent of millennials prefer a city or town that features a multimodal transportation option that includes public transportation. By investing in public transportation infrastructure, a community increases the likelihood of attracting new talent and industry to the area, especially as public transportation systems adopt technologies like smartphone charging stations on vehicles and facilities and fare collection via smartphone. • Public transportation is a 61 billion dollar a year industry that puts people to work – 1.1 million jobs are created or sustained annually. As such, public transportation advocates say that by supporting measures that improve these systems, local residents will be doing their community a favor. Information about the impact of public transportation on local communities is available at www.publictransportation.org. No matter how you get around your community, a robust public transit system stands to impact you and your local economy.
Voice Dream, a read-aloud app used globally by more than 100 thousand individuals, has revolutionized how the visually-impaired and reading disabled are consuming information. The app reads books aloud to users which for those with visual impairments and reading disabilities, has enhanced their reading experiences significantly. Voice Dream Reader’s features are organized in an uncluttered, intuitive, highly usable way - thereby creating an unparalleled user-friendly experience. Voice Dream Reader includes a female U.S. English voice and nearly 100 additional paid voices in 20 languages. In addition to English, Voice Dream supports Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Catalan, Polish, Turkish, Greek, and Arabic languages, among others. With the use of Foxit Software, a leading software provider of fast, affordable and secure PDF solutions, Voice Dream extracts text from PDF files and marks them as read while customers use the app. With collaboration from Foxit, Voice Dream is able take text from PDFs so they can be read aloud and highlight text as it is being read, an important feature for users with reading disabilities. Voice Dream also provides the following features for loading and managing reading material: • Text extraction from eBooks in DRM-free ePub format • Text extraction from plain text, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, Apple Pages, RTF and HTML files • DAISY 3.0 text-based eBooks • DAISY 2.02 audiobooks • Audiobooks as ZIP of MP3 files, such as LibriVox • Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote integration • Load files using iTunes via USB or WiFi • Bookshare integration • Gutenberg integration for over 40,000 free eBooks • Pocket and Instapaper integration • Built-in Web Browser to extract text from Web pages • Copy-paste via clipboard • Text Editor • Language translation via Google Translate through in-app purchases • Folders for organizing content • Export full text to clipboard, printer, email, and other apps • Export highlighted text and notes to clipboard, printer, email and other apps • Open the original Web page in Safari if possible • Share what you’re listening with friends on Twitter, Facebook, SMS or email (iOS 6+) For listening to text, Voice Dream offers the following: • Remote control enabled Play-Pause • Remembers where you stopped in each book or article • Powerful personal pronunciation dictionary • Configurable default speech rate, volume and pitch for each voice • Shows elapsed time and remaining time • Sleep timer • Previous and next book or article • Rewind and fast forward by sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, 15, 30 and 60 seconds • Rewind and fast forward through your bookmarks and highlights • Change reading speed on the fly. 50-500 words per minute • Change TTS voice on the fly • Remembers the voice and speech rate used for each book or article • Playlist for listening to multiple articles back to backs • Continues reading when you exit the app or lock the screen For a visual interaction with text, Voice Dream features: • Blazing fast vertical scrolling in two modes: Free and page by page • Synchronized word and line highlighting plus options to disable • Full screen mode to hide the controls • Focused Reading Mode with reduced text area and auto-scrolling • Full-text search • Table of contents for ePub and DAISY books • Page numbers for PDF documents and DAISY books • Bookmarking • Highlighting and note taking • Customizable font and font size • Includes OpenDyslexia font • Preset light and dark color theme, plus a fully customizable color theme • Built-in dictionary Voice Dream, with the help of Foxit Software, has made millions of books, documents and PDFs accessible to individuals that never had access to these texts before. Both organizations are proud of the difference they have made in the lives of thousands through the services they provide.