Quick Links

Master Schedule
The complete schedule of upcoming OPAL public online events.

Auditorium
Most OPAL programs are held in the Auditorium. After clicking on the link above, type in your name and press Enter. First-time OPAL users need to install a small, safe sofware plug-in.

Archive
Recordings and other documents about previous OPAL programs.

Podcast
For information on listening to previous OPAL events on your portable MP3 player, visit the OPAL Podcast blog.

image of a triangular opal stone



Help, Documentation, and Training Sessions

Tips for First-Time Users of OPAL:

Minimum Hardware and Software Requirements for OPAL:
  • Windows 2000, XP, Vista (XP or Vista recommended) (May work with 98 Second edition and ME -- very minimal testing has been done)

  • Pentium 3 500 MHz or better CPU

  • 512 MB RAM

  • Internet Explorer 6 or 7, or FireFox

  • JavaScript and cookies enabled in the browser

  • Soundcard and some sort of audio output method (e.g., speakers, headphones, earbuds--to hear what others in the online room are saying)

  • Microphone (for voice-over-IP communication) (Please Note: Many laptops contain embedded microphones. For desktop computers, the inexpensive microphones available for less than $10 at discount stores and online usually work well and reliably.)

  • Internet Connection (of course): a 56K modem connection should work reasonably well.

How To Get Started With OPAL:
  • If you want to enter an OPAL online room and participate in a live online event, you will need to use a computer running a fairly recent version of the Microsoft operating system (2000, XP, or Vista recommended). Also, you need to download and install a small, safe piece of software. A link to obtain this software is available on all OPAL room entry pages, such as the Entry Point to the OPAL Auditorium

  • If you are using an Apple Mac, a Linux machine, or some other operating system (including even a MS OS), you can listen and see what is going on in an OPAL online room without actually downloading the software or being in the online room. All you need to do is click on the "Mac-compatible Web Client" link available on most OPAL room entry pages, such as the Entry Point to the OPAL Auditorium. You may text chat back into an OPAL online room using this no-software-download-required interface, but you cannot speak in an OPAL online room.

  • If you want to listen to and watch the recording of a previous OPAL online event, simply peruse or search through the OPAL Archive

  • If your organization is interested in becoming an OPAL organizational member, you may review the information contained in the OPAL Fact Sheet. A temporary OPAL trial online room for your organization can be set up for testing and evaluation, too.

More Start-Up Info: The OPAL Getting Started Guide:
Help and Information about OPAL and Talking Communities Software:
  • The server port number used by OPAL is 443, and the Document Center within each OPAL online room uses port 21. A webpage full of technical information about the web conferencing software used by OPAL can be found at the following URL:
    http://talkingcommunities.com/tcuman

  • For general information about OPAL and the software used, please contact Tom Peters.

  • The website of Talking Communities contains FAQs, guides, and tutorials to assist you with your use of their software

  • The OPAL archive contains recordings of previous OPAL orientation sessions.

Accessibility for Blind and Low-Vision Users:
  • When you are in an OPAL online room, click on the "Options" dropdown menu in the upper left corner. Choose the "Accessibility" option. That allows you to:

    1. Select the screen focus for your screen reader software.

    2. Select the Text-to-speech options that best meet your needs (these are check boxes, so one or more may be checked):

      use accessible text chat
      read the public text chat aloud
      read the private text chat aloud
      say who enters the online room
      say who leaves the online room
      say when someone's status changes (e.g., when a person is speaking or typing)

    3. Configure the SAPI volume (Speech Application Programming Interface).

    4. Say who is speaking (the keystroke command for that is Alt-E)

    A list of the various keystroke alternatives within the software can be found at the following URL:
    http://talkingcommunities.com/tcuman/tutorials/shortcut.html

    If users of screen reader software wish to use the Document Center in an OPAL online room to show presentation slides to a group of people, a text-based tutorial on how to do that is at the following URL:
    http://talkingcommunities.com/tcuman/tutorials/accessible_ppt.html
Planning and Conducting an OPAL Online Event:
Using the Document Center: