I Installed Fleksy VO, and Want to Tell you Why

My previous post in this Blog, discussing recent decisions surrounding Fleksy for iOS, generated a great deal of discussion, both on and off the Blog.
While I felt moved to write my previous post because of what I concluded was an important point of principle and the precedent  Fleksy’s approach might set, I attempted to be very clear that I thought the people, and the technology they invented, were great. It saddens me that it’s all too common for people to launch personal attacks against those who have taken a decision with which they disagree. We should be able to separate the decision or opinion from the individual, and remember that while harsh rhetoric is being hurled from the comfort of a keyboard towards people we’ve often never met, those people are human too, with feelings and for the most part good intentions.
I’m not calling out anyone who commented via this Blog on the Fleksy article. But some of the Twitter comments over the last couple of weeks have done those who made them no favours. We should be able to have a respectful dialogue.
Someone who seems to feel the same way as me, is Fleksy’s Ioannis Verdelis. Like many people in business, he tracks what’s being said about his company on Twitter, so it wasn’t long at all before he read my post. Ioannis got in touch, and suggested we record a conversation in which he could clarify the company’s position.
That conversation became the first episode of the brand new “Talking Apps Podcast” on the equally brand new Appcessible.net.
Here’s the Podcast page, and here is a direct link to the MP3. If you’re at all interested in this subject, it’s worth a listen. I think it further illustrates my point. You can have a frank discussion while showing some courtesy.
I came away from the conversation with an even greater respect for the people who developed this technology and their long-view approach to making it widely available. That’s not an easy task given Apple’s walled garden.
I also detected genuine concern and regret that a good number of the community with whom Fleksy has worked the longest felt some unease about recent decisions.
Finally, I think there’s ready acknowledgement that the approached used to communicate these changes was too full of marketing-speak.
If you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear some pretty firm commitments made about when the apps will merge again, and Ioannis was adamant that they will indeed merge.
I think if there’s anyone among my readership who has never said something they wish they could go back and say a different way, or perhaps take back entirely, then I’d love to know your secret. I am not such a person, and am happy to cut the Fleksy folks some slack here. They’ve acknowledged they could have communicated this change better, a lesson learned.
Having had some honest dialogue, without the PR-speak, I now feel a lot more confident about the temporary nature of the current situation, and I have Fleksy VO on my devices.
The fact that Ioannis was willing to do the podcast shows both his commitment to this market, and his strength of character.
I don’t shy away from the principle that prompted me to right the previous post, it’s an important one. But if this situation is temporary and we have some firm timeframes, I can live with it for a bit.
If you hear the podcast, I’d be interested to know whether you feel differently, if you previously had concerns.

5 Comments

  1. John GreerJohn Greer

    Hopefully this will stop some of the hatred being thrown at the Flecksi developers. As far as the advice goes, the only advice I can think to give is, before crowd sourcing politics make sure you are firm in your belief with all the information about an issue you can gather, because the people who are doing the actual gruntwork see the world from beyond a podium and will defend it if given the chance. In any case, the right decision is eventually made. In this case, choosing to continue to work with the Flecksi developers is the right decision. They have worked hard on what they’ve done, and we tend to take things like that for granted to try to replace it with our own political agenda.

  2. Pamela Francis

    I would like to thank the fleksy people for being willing to engage in a frank discussion. One can respect the person yet not his position. I believe he genuinely lamented the way he handled the launch of the secondary app. I still don’t think he understands the message he could conceivably be sending to app developers who don’t understand how to nor care to make their app accessible to us. he would have been better off posting a notice saying he was removing accessibility to his main app temporarily while building his own SDK. I also hope if nothing else, he learned we in the blind community deserve the same respect as our sighted counterparts. we as his test market deserve priority in his main app. Though I understand his company needs to expand its horizons in order to keep its bills paid we all know that we within the blind community have been used for someone else’s concepts and then left in the dust before now.
    I wish nothing but good things for the app and whatever succeeds it. However, having been burned before, I will respectfully not reinstall the app until and unless he keeps his word within the timeframe he set out. I’m taking a wait-and-see attitude at this point. It does no good to be angry anymore.

  3. Randy

    I agree. If we want Fleksy to continue being a free solution, than we should support the developers’ reaching out to a bigger community. I personally prefer MBraille for my keyboarding, but think Fleksy is a great ethnology for those who don’t use Braille and need an easier keyboarding experience.

  4. Rick Alfaro

    As someone who has been beta testing Fleksy from the very beginning, I truly have to applaud this company for dealing with this situation in such a straight forward and honest way. I believe they will stand behind their commitment and eventually merge both versions into one. I know from dealing with them personally, that their intentions are true and that they have not abandoned our community. I think the temporary decision to have a separate version was the right thing to do knowing that so many folks depended on its functionality. I understand the point of views stating that this may send the wrong signal to developers and I would agree if this were a permanent situation. I have full confidence that soon we will be seeing one version of Fleksy for all, blind or sighted.

    I also want to thank Jonathan for giving them a platform to clarify their intentions for all to hear straight from one of the companies owners.

  5. Derry Lawlor

    Hi Jonathan I am so glad you reinstalled fleksy vO, I love the app, so much, I use it every day as I write most of my twitter and facebook on the go, using the apps on the iPhone so I am so glad Fleksy vO is working and working well.
    Keep up the good work.

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