In Through the Out Door. A Few Words About my New Job
It’s been a rewarding seven months of personal and professional growth for me. Following the establishment of Mosen Consulting, I’ve written two books which many people have been kind enough to buy, and with the help of the meticulous Diane Croft of National Braille Press, fine-tuned my writing skills in the process.
I’ve put together a few webinars which have been well received, and of course written some posts to this blog that have provoked some interesting debate. Thanks to everyone who has read these humble missives.
I’ve had the honour of working with many great people who’ve become Mosen Consulting clients, assisting them with everything from audio editing to getting up and running with iOS to being more productive on the job with better Office skills.
It’s also been rewarding to work with my corporate clients and make apps and the web a bit more accessible.
No matter what field we choose, I think many of us like to feel that what we do makes a difference. Perhaps, for some, the cheque at the end of a pay period is enough, but for me, my work has always had to make the world better somehow. When I worked in the assistive technology product management field, I’d use the products I designed or managed every day. That was a huge motivator to advocate for resources that would permit ongoing improvement. But I was also both moved and motivated by stories people would tell me of how a product for which I was responsible was helping them to maximise their potential when studying, when on the job, or when participating in the community. Every job, without exception, has its ups and downs. But those real accounts of the difference my work was making would make me think, “yeah, this matters”. Equally, when people have written saying that a one-on-one training session, a book or a webinar has helped them, it’s made me realise that what I’ve been doing over the last nearly seven months has mattered too.
You can’t feed your family on altruism alone. Food and shelter are quite useful, so to all of you who’ve purchased my material, thank you so much.
What I’m about to tell you doesn’t represent the closing of this chapter of my life completely. I hope that when time permits, there are still more books and webinars in me. However, I do have a new full-time job, and it just goes to show that you never know what unexpected twists and turns life will take.
As you may remember from Freedom Scientific’s media release in May, when I left the company, I agreed to produce six episodes of their monthly podcast, FSCast, to give us both time to transition. The last of those podcasts was produced in October.
Freedom Scientific was going through its own transition during this period, with a new President and CEO, John Blake, taking the helm. I interviewed John for the September 2013 edition of FSCast, an episode widely circulated on social media. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s worth a listen. I was excited by John’s openness and willingness to answer any question fully. It was clear to me from that interview that John’s style is to engage with customers and partners using a range of tools and methods. I found myself impressed, and excited about Freedom Scientific’s future.
When I was approached about taking on a new role at Freedom Scientific, and I learned about what it involved, it certainly got me thinking. Freedom Scientific has some of the best minds in the assistive technology industry, working to make a difference every day. A few months after my arrival back in 2006, I started FSCast because I felt that the company needed to communicate in a more personal way about the innovative things being done, the talented and committed people responsible for those innovations, and the impact they were having on the lives of people around the world.
All those episodes are still up on the Freedom Scientific website, and they now constitute a nice little pocket history of the last seven years. The innovation during that time has been impressive. Even looking at JAWS alone, when I joined Freedom Scientific, there was no bundling of RealSpeak voices, no user-friendly start-up wizard, no ability to skim-read by colour which makes a huge difference in complex situations, no multiple sound-card support, no support for 64-bit Windows, no JAWS Tandem which has revolutionised the way thousands of people receive assistance, no auto-forms mode, no support for ARIA live regions, no ability to virtualise the current window or control, no ability to type in contracted Braille which has made working in Word as easy as working in a notetaker, no Settings Center to easily locate the feature you want, no text analyzer which has improved the quality of the written output of those who use it, no ability to reverse the panning buttons on a Braille display as you can on a notetaker, no ability to perform OCR on a web page or screen that is highly graphical, no Flexible Web which has totally revolutionised the way I work on the web, and, of course, no touch-screen support which gives you the power to execute touch-screen commands from a keyboard even if you don’t have a touch-screen-enabled device…And those are just what I can think of off the top of my head. Couple that with the support for new versions of Windows, Office and other apps, and we’ve sure come a long way.
FSCast has reflected all this, but of course a lot has changed in terms of expectations customers have of the way they interact with the companies with which they do business. As I have said previously on this blog, if a company elects not to be a part of social media, it doesn’t somehow mean that you’re not going to be discussed there. All it means is that you’re not there to offer your perspective.
Freedom Scientific most certainly needs to engage on social media, and I’m pleased this is a view shared by its new leadership. I’m therefore delighted to accept the new position of Director of Blindness Communications at Freedom Scientific.
It’s going to be great to manage the FS social media presence as it relates to the blindness products, to let you know what Freedom Scientific is doing, to solicit your input, and where necessary to direct you to the right person who can help with any queries you have.
I really enjoyed discussing this role, and also reminiscing with Glen Gordon and Eric Damery, in the November FSCast. Yes, FSCast continues and its production and hosting is a part of this new role.
I’m excited that this company who produces such outstanding products is thinking differently, thinking more openly, about the way it interacts and the way it is perceived. It has a good story to tell, and I look forward to helping tell it. But I’ll still be around in a private capacity, writing as time permits.