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
“If you live every day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right” Steve Jobs quoted an anonymous source in his speech to the Stanford graduating class in 2005. Yesterday was the day Steve was right and the world lost one of its true creative geniuses – a man who has changed each and every one of our lives in important and lasting ways. And not just with his disruptive products like the Mac and the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Those are some of his innovative tools but the real innovation was in how we relate to one another.I imagine everyone recognizes that the way we interact has changed with iPhone and iPad. Steve gave us the gift of a great communication experience. For blind people, like myself, it is more than that. Steve Jobs opened that modern world fully to me and people like me by making the full experience of his products accessible, out of the box. He had the vision to see me as a customer who wanted to be treated like any other customer and gave me the privilege of walking in a store and paying retail for a product off the shelf that immediately gave me the same access and experience as any person with sight.If the marketplace were a religion, as I guess … [Read more...] about Thank You Steve!
While this is a personal post and I don’t make it a habit to get on my personal soapbox on this blog, I think that the issues covered in the email are relevant to Serotek’s mission of providing and advocating for “Accessibility Anywhere.”Below is a letter submitted to the IPad Today show on the Twit Netcast Network. It frustrates me that even so called “geeks” don’t understand how important accessibility is in both software and on the web. What do you think of this letter? Please post your comments so perhaps someone will read them and really know that accessibility isn’t just a law but that it really does allow us as a market to enjoy the same level of access to products and services that our sighted peers enjoy and take for granted. From:Mike CalvoTo:email@example.comSubject:Program 51 Advocates for Universal Design … for OnceHello Leo and Sarah,I’ve been a long-time listener of The Twit Network and iPad today, and havealways been impressed with the insightful commentary you both consistentlyprovide on the show. I was very excited to hear your thoughts on HTML 5 on theshow which aired on June 23. As the CEO of an assistive technology company providing accessible cloudservices to … [Read more...] about Another Accessibility Slap In The Face
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
This week, Serotek’s iBlink Radio app for the iPhone and iPod Touch is in the “Featured apps” section of the iTunes Store. On the surface, this may appear to be a nice feather in Serotek’s cap, but the implications go far beyond company recognition. This listing recognizes the blind community as a worthy market as well as putting Serotek on display as a contributor of high quality software and content. This is a first. The first time ever an application for blind people has been offered to the world at large, by a major marketing organization, without qualification or apology. It’s just there as part of the best of the best applications Apple has highlighted for its iPhone and iPod users.We created this application and placed it on the iTunes store, free of charge, for a number of reasons. First and foremost it is great content – a complete array of entertainment and information, all created by and for the blind and low vision community. This is everything a blind person needs to know in one place, quick and easy, accessible anywhere. This is my personal app of choice.Second, this is a valuable resource for sighted people if they or someone in their family is losing their … [Read more...] about A History Making Day For The Blind
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
I just purchased an iPhone. I paid the same price as any other person -- $299 for the 32 gigabyte version plus tax. Like anyone else I had to subscribe to AT&T’s network – at least for a couple of months. We can see about changing phone networks later.VoiceOver, the screen reader which has shipped free in every Apple computer since 2005, is built right into the iPhone 3G S. There’s nothing extra to purchase or install.All I need is the iPhone 3G S, iTunes 8.2 or later, and a Mac or PC. I can activate my iPhone and enable VoiceOver without sighted assistance using iTunes with a compatible screen reader like System Access to Go free on a PC or VoiceOver included on the Mac. When I activate iPhone using iTunes, I can enable VoiceOver on the iPhone to start using it right away.In other words, this is a high-demand consumer product developed by a mainstream company that is accessible out of the box.Where is everyone else?This phone not only speaks; it speaks 21 different languages including three dialects of Chinese, two flavors of Portuguese, two flavors of Spanish, Russian, Norwegian, Japanese, Korean, German, Dutch, Italian, Polish, Swedish, two flavors of French, Finish and … [Read more...] about Why is it that Apple always seems to get to the future first?