As a blind computer user, what did you do the last time you visited a site that was not accessible? Did you switch screen readers or web browsers and hope for the best? Did you get frustrated, send out an angry tweet and forget about it, or did you maybe send an e-mail to the company asking them to make the site more inclusive to all visitors? Last week the Wall Street Journal published an article about deaf and blind consumers taking web service providers to court. Target and Netflix tried to say the ADA did not apply to web space, but they wound up settling after judges rejected their arguments. Now there are rumors that the Justice department is considering modifications to the ADA to encompass websites. You can watch my interview response with the Wall Street Journal here. I want to expand on a few points: Social media has shattered the barrier that previously existed between consumers and big corporations. Remember the u-turn Netflix took after they announced the change in their subscription service? What about the step backward Verizon took after the backlash to the service fee they attempted to introduce? Google may or may not retain its RSS reader product, but you can … [Read more...] about The Court of Public Opinion is Not the Last Resort
Serotek? Newsletter? What gives! Serotek is a company that has always prided itself on breaking out of the traditional mold. Our corporate culture encourages things like hilarious April Fool's posts like like GTO or the notetaker that just got bigger, and instances where employees offer software trial resets for everyone while the boss is too soused on margaritas to stop them. So why is a company like that venturing in to the dry, purely informational world of newsletters? I’ll tell you why. It’s because of that one little word I tend to throw around a lot in all my talks and blog posts. You’re probably scratching your heads wondering which word I’m talking about. After all, I talk a lot, so that’s an awfully large set of words to choose from. But the word I’m talking about today is community. One of the most beautiful things about a community is that it’s filled with people who have disparate interests, perspectives and opinions. Of course, the thing that makes a community so wonderful is also what makes it the most challenging, and yes, even frustrating at times. You see, all those people who have different opinions and perspectives? Sometimes, those perspectives and opinions … [Read more...] about Should Serotek Start a Newsletter?
As a lot of you know, last night I had a strong reaction to Apple and its decision to reject Serotek's Accessible Event app. The exact number of apps that do not make it to Apple's App Store is not documented but is estimated to range in the thousands. When our app fell into that category for a third consecutive time, I admit my reaction was a little hasty.I understand Apple only wants the best apps to maintain a superior user experience. I applaud Apple for allowing that user experience to be so inclusive of the world's blind population. To that end, I submit my sincere apologies to Apple and to the blind and visually impaired community for having taken my frustrations as a developer to Twitter. If I may, I would like to provide an explanation for my reaction.My sentiments are not unique among Apple's developer community. Hundreds of blog posts and Twitter feeds point to Apple's obscure approval system. There is no appeal process for rejected apps that meet the company's hardware and software specifications. Though sideloading has provided alternative access to OSX, Apple's sandboxing policy set to start on March 1 raises speculation about whether the company will simply eliminate … [Read more...] about Egypt Revisited
This past Sunday my family and I accompanied some friends to Disney World. Living in Orlando, I guess it's not as big of a deal as it would be for the common tourist. I myself have always found it more or less enjoyable, something to do with the kids anyway. Last weekend I decided to satisfy my curiosity about a new audio description device that I had heard about somewhere, and while looking over the Disney website I was reminded of its existence once again. WOW! At the risk of sounding totally cliché, it's like I stepped into a whole new realm. I have always known Disney to take a special approach to all its guests. I mean, they're in the business of making dreams come true, right? I have never encountered issues with accessing any of the attractions. My guide dog has always been welcomed. In fact, Hurley was riding around with my Son and me in one of their go karts on this trip, with no one batting an eye, but I have to confess this past weekend totally rocked my view of Disney's effort to make their park a universal experience. The device with no real name is offered free for the duration of your visit with a refundable $25 deposit. It is a 7.2-ounce handheld computer with … [Read more...] about The Disney Standard
With the recent release of DocuScan Plus, the product development team would like to share with the community what we believe to be a new and exciting method of developing assistive technology. We feel that this tool is especially useful when developing assistive technology because of the unique challenges involved with creating this type of software. Assistive technology, unlike some other types of software, must be simultaneously easy enough for brand new computer user's to use, yet powerful enough to satisfy the needs of those with long term experience as well. In addition, developing a product that is so essential to so many people means that great care must be taken in every step of the design process.How software is traditionally developedThe traditional method of software development is for a design team to generate specifications for a software product. After mapping as much of the product out as possible, including features, UI (which stands for user interface and defines how a user interacts with the software,) the overall capabilities of the software, pipe dreams, Et cetera, the design team hands these requirements off to the programmers. From this point forward, the … [Read more...] about Crowdsourcing as a software development tool
A week or so ago, the American Council of the Blind held a Future of Screen Readers panel as part of the Information Access Committee seminar at the ACB annual convention. Serotek was one of the companies invited to attend remotely via Skype. Other remote participants were GW Micro and NVDA. Unfortunately technology failed (through no fault of Skype) and we remote participants did not get to contribute. But I thought the panel questions were extremely pertinent to all blind people and that it was important we add our voice to the conversation. So this blog post is Serotek’s way of making sure our voice, and the voice of many who share our view, is also heard. I’d like to begin with Question 6, because it separates us from most panel participants. I’ll come back and address each of the ten questions – which are included in their entirety at the end of this post. Question 6 said: “Imagine that you are participating on a panel five years from now. What do you hope you can tell us about the screen reader space and the role of your screen reader in it?” Serotek hopes wholeheartedly that in 2015 we can say the screen reader space has vanished. This change will be brought about through … [Read more...] about What is the Future of Screen Readers anyway?
Serotek declares war on the traditional adaptive technology industry and their blind ghetto products. With this announcement we are sending out a call to arms to every blind person and every advocate for the blind to rise up and throw off the tyranny that has shaped our lives for the past two decades. It is a tyranny of good intentions – or at least what began as good intentions. But as the proverb says, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” And for the past two decades the technologies originally conceived to give us freedom have been our shackles. They have kept us tied down to underperforming, obscenely expensive approaches that only a small percentage of blind people can afford or master. They have shackled us to government largess and the charity of strangers to pay for what few among us could afford on our own. And we have been sheep, lead down the path, bleating from time to time, but without the vision or the resources to stand up and demand our due.That time is past.We stand today on the very edge of universal accessibility. Mainstream products like the iPod, iPhone, and newly announced iPad are fully accessible out of the box. And they bring with them … [Read more...] about The Serotek Ultimatum
I don’t usually post things from the Serotalk Podcast here, but, The Serotek Story Documentary is so compelling that I figured I would post it. Of course I’m biased!If you haven’t put the Serotalk Podcast on your RSS, shame on you! LOL! Really though, it is a great resource for information on what’s happening in the World of technology according to a few blind and rather disturbed geeks! So, if you’d like a few laughs and some pretty good information head over to the Serotalk Podcast! And hey, you might not even be sorry you did!Happy New Year! … [Read more...] about The Serotek Story Documentary A Must For your Audio Archive
Yesterday marked the release of a product which, according to Intel, would revolutionize the way the blind and others with reading disabilities accessed printed materials. During those few fleeting moments between hearing of the announcement and reading the actual press release, I had high hopes that a mainstream company would demonstrate its dedication to accessibility and innovation at an affordable price. And with backing from companies and organizations such as Humanware, Lighthouse International and the Council for Exceptional Children, I felt certain that the device I was going to read about would be very impressive indeed. The Intel Reader, a device about the size of a paperback and weighing approximately 1 pound, is equipped with a camera and text-to-speech allowing print documents such as newspapers, menus, and signs to be converted in to a readable form by the blind and others with print disabilities. With the addition of a capturing station, sold separately, the device can be used to scan and convert more lengthy materials such as textbooks and novels. It can also read existing etexts in Daisy format as well as play standard MP3 and Wav files. This feature set reads … [Read more...] about What I think About the Intel Reader
Knowbility blogger Desiree at Universally Designed gives us a wonderful tutorial in Webinars in her September 2nd posting along with an introduction to Serotek’s Accessible Event, which makes this phenomenally useful tool completely accessible to the blind, deaf, and deaf-blind. Desiree gives our AE team a lot of well-deserved pats on the back. That’s the way it should be because our people are out there changing the world, one demonstration at a time. Once again Serotek has blasted the barriers and brings the latest in social networking technology to everyone.I call Accessible Event a social networking tool because online meetings are really a dimension of social networking. The one-on-one stuff is great and we make that available in many different ways, but some information is best provided to a group, all at the same time. That includes corporate meetings, webinars, university classes, sermons and presentations of many kinds – really any time one person or a group of people play show and tell to a larger group in real time. Thanks to the Internet and tools like GoToMeetinghttps://www1.gotomeeting.com/?Portal=www.gotomeeting.com and WebEx virtual meetings or webinars have been … [Read more...] about Who Says? You Can’t Build It and They Will Come