On November 12th of this year we posted an audio version of a keynote speech I gave at the Mid-Atlantic ACB Conference on our Serotalk blog and podcast. While many folks heard it and gave some great feedback, it was still about an hour long and who wants to hear me talk for that long? For those of you that would rather read the speech without my trips down memory lane, I have posted it here.I hope that it will inspire you as much as meeting and interacting with many of you readers, customers, and friends has inspired me.MikeLack of Sight Doesn’t Mean Lack of VisionBy Mike CalvoI’m going to tell you some of the highlights and lowlights of my life story, tonight. Not all of them – just a few to give you a sense of how it’s possible for a blind kid, a trouble-maker, pretty much written off by his teachers, can be standing here as CEO of a company that is changing the adaptive technology paradigm. It’s a story that didn’t start well and which isn’t over yet, I hope. But it’s a story of how blindness has very little to do with vision. And while this is my story, it’s also a story that any blind person can live if they can dream.School was not a great experience for me. Every day … [Read more...] about Lack of Sight Doesn’t Mean Lack of Vision Text Version
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?
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 am a little tardy responding to Dr. Mark Maurer’s letter, at the end of this post, encouraging rehab centers to give their blind clientele their choice when it comes to selecting accessibility tools, such as screen readers. We agree with Dr. Maurer wholeheartedly. There are two considerations, however, that the letter did not address:1. To make an informed choice, blind consumers need access to all their options and valid, easy to access information about the plusses and minuses of each possible choice. They need to understand the functional capabilities and they need to understand how much time they will have to invest to become proficient using each potential tool. Not all rehab centers are currently able to present this information on all products.2. Choices have different costs. In a free market scenario the client would make his or her own cost-benefit choice. But if the product is being purchased by vocational rehab funds or other public sources, the client never sees the cost side of the equation. The vocational rehab center does, though. And a client who chooses an expensive product that has more capability than he or she needs, may be limiting the rehab center’s ability … [Read more...] about Dr. Mark Maurer’s letter encouraging rehab centers to give their blind clientele their choice when it comes to selecting accessibility tools
“The baby boomers are coming! The baby boomers are coming!” You can hear the cry ringing out in agencies and organizations that work with blind and low vision people throughout the country. And, just when they need more money and resources to deal with the influx of newly blind seniors, the Federal and state governments, feeling the crunch of a poor economy and a raging Federal deficit, are scaling back. Our brave, blind services militia is standing exposed, running out of ammunition, and seeing the hoard descending upon them. Wise people know that if this first line of defense fails and cannot contain the influx of newly blind seniors helping the majority of them to live independently with a high quality of life, society will feel the impact several times over with Medicare and Medicaid costs soaring and a huge demand society cannot fill for specialized housing, transportation, personal attendants, and more. You might think that the adaptive technology industry and the vendors who have, for years, made a healthy profit selling traditional screen readers, hardware, and services to this community, would now step up to the plate and help the home team meet the challenge. But … [Read more...] about Serving More People, Better, And For Less
Retooling for Baby Boomers:Helping Vocational Rehab OrganizationsMeet The Coming Surge in DemandThere has always been a strong link between age and blindness. Numerous diseases and conditions we associate with aging that result in impairment or loss of vision. This year, the first of the baby boomers reach retirement age and what follows will likely be a rapidly increasing demand for rehabilitation services for the blind. This should not come as a surprise to anyone in the blind services field. This NCSAB conference is a direct recognition of the impending increase in demand.If state agencies were limited to the tools of the past, the impending boom in demand would be a crisis. Traditional, one-size-fits-all screen readers are hugely expensive and notoriously difficult to train. While baby boomers have some computer literacy, they are still mostly neophytes when it comes to dealing with the technical awareness required by most screen readers. If they are newly blind and just beginning to learn the basics of independent living, the screen readers can be overwhelming. Yet, if they are to achieve independence and full communion with their families, they need to have access to … [Read more...] about Retooling for Baby Boomers: Helping Vocational Rehab Organizations Meet The Coming Surge in Demand