Podcast transcript: Mosen At Large episode 139, the great tech conference with an ableist name, blindness tech support from Microsoft and Apple, scribe for meetings demo and blind ghetto products
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Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. Today, it’s back, a great conference with an obnoxious ableist name, blindness support from Apple and Microsoft. We talk about Pneuma Solutions and demonstrate Scribe for Meetings, and is there such a thing as blind ghetto technology?
Speaker 2: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Jonathan: Thank you for joining me once again. If there were cobwebs in my brain they have been blown away, it is really windy out there. Wellington has a reputation for being the windy city. I guess, in that sense, we are the Chicago of the South Pacific. If the kids were younger, we’d probably still have a trampoline, and it would be hurtling through the window.
In some areas, we’ve got 140-kilometer gales. It’s crazy out there. Anyway, a lot to discuss today. I’ve had the privilege of traveling internationally, and before doing that, especially when I’m heading to a country with significant cultural differences from mine, I think it’s respectful to study the country you’re going to, and therefore, its culture. Learn about what is good practice where you’re going.
I would like to hope that when people start engaging with the blind community, they would think it polite to undertake the same kind of due diligence. Last year on this show, I interviewed Ned Desmond, someone who is justifiably respected in the technology community. He was creating a new virtual conference. You might remember this, it was called Sight Tech Global. Yes, I know. There was nothing particularly new about this conference.
Blind people have been getting together for years at conferences to discuss our technological needs. Many of these conferences are driven by blind people ourselves, and of course, blind people have been using voice chat communities online for a very long time, long before they were trendy. I think this is another example of blind people leading the way in terms of technology that sighted people have later adopted.
This was at the height of the pandemic, many virtual conference platforms have had serious accessibility issues. If the usual suspect wanted to add one more conference to their speaking circuit, well, why not? The conference was free for end-users, that is certainly a good thing. Additionally, Ned’s strong tech press connections meant that Sight Tech Global got a lot of press, whereas many well-established conferences did not.
It is a shameful commentary on the ableism rampant in the mainstream tech press that while conferences like the Consumer Electronics Show get plenty of coverage, CSUN gets next to none even though there are estimates that one in five or even one in four people are disabled. There’s a lot of interest out there. In the podcast interview and indeed in a private email before it, I expressed my discomfort with the technology conference all about stuff that you and I, blind and low vision people might like to use been called Sight Tech Global.
To be fair, Ned isn’t the first to use this language. When I was a product manager in the tech industry, I had to attend Sight Village in the United Kingdom and SightCity in Frankfurt, and it made me feel very uncomfortable. I felt that my job was requiring me to compromise my values. If you were listening to the interview I did with Ned Desmond, since Ned was my guest and I had already expressed my strongly voiced concerns, frankly, by private email, I didn’t spend too much time on the name of the conference during the interview but I did want to make the point.
This is how it went down. We’ve had lots of discussion on this podcast over a long period about blind pride and how people are reluctant to use the word blind, particularly in the mainstream community. It’s become like people clear their throat and try and find any other possible word. We were originally in touch because I wrote and said, “Have you ever thought about the consequences of using a term like Sight Tech Global instead of just putting blind front and center of the conference?” Tell me about the Genesis of the name Sight Tech Global, and why you chose that one.
Ned Desmond: Right. I appreciated your note, Jonathan. I have to confess, it was an eye-opener to me. I didn’t fully appreciate that that discussion was going on in the community about reluctance to use the word blind or blindness. We might’ve made a different decision on the name if I’ve been fully aware of that. The genesis of the name was pretty simple, we were looking for a name that conveyed a literal sense of what the event was about because that’s important in any event name.
We wanted to make sure people knew it was a show predominantly about tech, and so we came up with Sight Tech Global. We also threw in global because we were making the show free and virtual to your points earlier, so this would open it up to everybody around the world who was interested in these topics, which by itself is a revolutionary idea compared to what has gone before.
The idea of sight and tech, in my mind anyway, at the time, simply meant that these were technologies that provided sight in one shape, form, or another. It was as simple as that. It might’ve been a little bit misguided but that’s how I was thinking at the time.
Jonathan: That’s Ned Desmond from Mosen At Large episode 78. I’m still not sure how using the term sight tells anybody that this is about blind people. As you can hear, Ned seems to take these comments on board. You can imagine my dismay and frustration when I read a couple of days ago that the name Sight Tech Global is being used again this year as they prepare to put another conference together. This matters a lot.
We have talked on this show at length about the social model of disability. At its heart, the social model of disability understands that people become disabled because of poor societal choices. In an enabling society, where we can all thrive and contribute to our maximum potential, we accept that sight is not essential for success. When principles of universal design are used, it’s possible to thrive without sight.
One could argue that the term sight tech might be an appropriate term to use in two contexts. The first is if the conference were all about people with low vision, who want to live life as a sighted person as much as possible. Technologies such as magnification hardware and software may well be justifiably called sight tech. You might also argue although I think it’s a bit more of a stretch that OCR applications for blind people might be called sight tech because they’re playing a part in converting something inherently visual into something a blind person can consume, but this conference goes well beyond those subjects.
This is a conference about a wide range of technology as used by blind people, particularly, all aspects of artificial intelligence. It plays right in to the dangerous misconceptions many sighted people have, that somehow sight is superior, therefore, naturally what blind people need is sight tech. I also note that the article that I read announcing Sight Tech Global talked about people with vision loss, as if the term were interchangeable with the words blind and low vision, it is not.
I have been blind since the day I was born. I am not a person with sight loss because I never had sight to lose. By all means, have a conference that caters to people with vision loss. They are an important group deserving of attention, particularly since if you are losing something, it is much harder than if you never had it, but just know that there are many people blind from birth or even early in life who will not feel they are being talked to when that kind of language is used.
Do you seriously think that deaf people, with their strong culture, and the pride they feel in it would tolerate a conference for totally deaf people who embraced deaf culture being called Hearing Tech Global? Sure, that’s a good name for people interested in hearing aids and related technologies like me, but not for deaf people. What about a conference of racial minorities? Would it be okay to call that white Tech Global?
I note that on the main page of the Sight Tech Global website, the term nothing about us without us is used, or should I say, in my opinion, misappropriated. This, by a conference organized by a sighted man who was talking to a handful of blind people. The American Council of the Blind Convention, which has an entire track devoted to technology is all about blind people speaking for ourselves.
Blind people organize that event and they completely run it, that is nothing about us without us. The National Federation of the Blind in the United States has just concluded its convention, that was organized and run by blind people. That is nothing about us without us. We should welcome interested willing allies into our midst, but those allies would do well to understand that the technologists they are surrounding themselves with are not necessarily advocates.
I also think there will come a time when well-established companies like Humanware and the Sparrow should be asked why they are supporting a conference with an ableist name. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with Ned Desmond last year, he’s a fascinating man whose heart is in the right place and who has made a significant contribution.
I also acknowledge and express profound gratitude for the fact that the conference organizers have gone to some considerable lengths to make sure that there was a fully accessible conference system. I just think he has made a colossal mistake and been poorly advised on this important issue. I would like to think it isn’t too late to come up with a better name that isn’t ableist. Unless the name is changed, I will be boycotting this conference and I would strongly encourage speakers, sponsors, companies and potential attendees to consider doing the same.
I would also hope that consumer organizations, particularly the National Federation of the Blind, which has a clear and consistent philosophy of blindness, would issue a release speaking out against the name. In an era where we see far too many uses of the word blind in the public discourse as a synonym for ignorant or stupid, how sad it is that a conference about the technology that helps to empower us can’t even find a name that embraces blindness and low vision. I urge you, Ned Desmond, to put this right.
Ad: What’s on your mind? Send an email with a recording of your voice or just write it down, firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com, or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 864-60 Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736.
Kevin Chao: Hello, this is Kevin Chao, just chiming in about the discussion around the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk. It’s interesting because I’ve tried it a few times, not terribly frequently, but mostly based off the blindness community, high praises and awesome experiences of the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk. I’ve tried on a couple of occasions to contact them about different things, I’ve tried to figure out through SharePoint, Teams, or Outlook. I’ve tried both through their Be My Eyes support as well as just Microsoft Disability Answer phone number. I’ve not really had, I would say, a fantastic experience.
Most of the time it started off just around basic troubleshooting and then really wanting to remote in. Once it came up that I’m using a Mac with Voiceover, pretty much it came down to them saying, “Oh, they just don’t support that.” I tried to emphasize that, “Hey, I’m trying to figure out an accessibility. I’m using a screen reader with a Microsoft product. I thought the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk would be able to help with this.”
Seems like their support is more focused around Windows and the screen readers on the Windows platform. Not sure if others had experience with calling in, with using Microsoft products on a Mac with Voiceover, but that’s my experience, that just basically starts off with basic troubleshooting and they aren’t really able to help much and I had to figure it out on my own.
Jonathan: Thanks for your comments on this, Kevin. I reached out to Microsoft, and I should say that often if I get a comment like this, I do try and reach out to the company concerned for a right of reply. Sometimes I get completely ignored, at other times I get a fantastic response. The latter is the case in this instance. I had a great discussion with Crystal Jones, who runs Microsoft’s Disability Answer Desk, and I can tell you that they are very interested in feedback about the service, where they can improve.
Crystal is blind herself, and it was very clear to me from the discussion that we had that she’s passionate about making sure that disabled people receive quality service from the Disability Answer Desk. They have gone ahead and reminded all agents and team leads that they should be making best efforts to support DAD customers, the Disability Answer Desk customers on the Mac. There are a number of action points here.
For office for Mac, DAD will definitely support the basic download, install, and activation. In terms of accessibility issues specific to the built-in assistive technology tools on Mac, DAD will do best effort before redirecting to Apple’s accessibility. I think that’s fair enough because Voiceover is not a Microsoft tool. Obviously, if you’ve got an Office problem, you want Microsoft to deal with that, but if there’s something relating to Voiceover that may be misbehaving, then it may well be that you’re going to have to contact Apple and talk to them about that.
We’ve all been there. We know as users of third-party assistive technology that sometimes it’s hard to know. If we, say, have an issue with using Microsoft Office in JAWS, is this a JAWS issue or is it a Microsoft issue? I’m pretty confident that there is still a very good relationship between the Disability Answer Desk team and Vispero, for example, to try and ease those pain points and to keep the discussion going.
Also, for anything else specific to Microsoft Office, DAD Tier one and two will still do best effort and do a consult before escalating to Tier three support. When customers want an agent to remote into their machine, DAD uses LogMeIn Rescue tool for Mac and Legacy Windows. Quick Assist is used for Windows 10. Customers can always share feedback and suggestions in the survey sent from Microsoft support directly to any of the Disability Answer Desk agents or by sending a message to @MSFTEnable, that is all one word, no dashes or anything mean like that. MSFTEnable all joined together on Twitter.
Crystal says, “We review this feedback and survey verbatims weekly.” That is a great comprehensive response and I thank Crystal for it and for engaging with me on this. They are really keen to hear of any issues that people might be having with the Disability Answer Desk, which in my experience at any rate, has provided a top notch service.
Scott: Good day, Jonathan, it’s Scott Rutkowski from Australia here. Just wanted to say how much I enjoy the Mosen at Large podcast every week. I’m very glad that it’s going to continue, and I’ve gained a lot of interesting facts and information from the podcast, and I sincerely wish to thank you for producing it for us every week. I wanted to comment on the Apple accessibility piece that Petra raised in the show this week.
Basically, I’ve been told the same thing, Jonathan, when I’ve rung Accessibility in the last maybe month, they told me the same thing that they told Petra, that you can only call that number for accessibility issues. If you wish to call the main Apple number for anything else, that’s what you have to do. I thought, “Well, I’ll give that a go.” I rang the main Apple Support number in Australia, I asked them something to do with the camera app and how to turn off live photos. When you take a picture and it records two seconds of audio it’s attached to the photo.
The person at the other end of the support number, I don’t know where they were located, but they had no idea of accessibility at all. They were telling me to click on the two lines in the camera app to turn off live photos. I told the person politely that I’m blind, I don’t have any vision and I don’t know how to access this particular function in the camera app. They just sat there in silence and were of no help to me at all.
That was just to test the theory about what Accessibility had said. That could have been an Accessibility issue, but I wanted to try the main support number just to satisfy my curiosity. The Accessibility team telling you to call the main support number for something like that, they don’t have any training, even though they told me that all the people at the main support number know about Accessibility, they clearly don’t.
I don’t know how much training those guys have had on the main support number, but I can see why Accessibility wants you to call the main number for non-accessibility issues. I think it’s because at times when you have called Accessibility, the wait has been over an hour, and this has happened to me on numerous occasions, when I’ve called Accessibility. I can see their point from that view, but I still think that the main support number for anything like what I described here wasn’t a good experience. The person was polite, that is, didn’t know how to talk to someone who is blind or has a vision impairment.
Jonathan: Thank you for sharing your perspective, Scott. I appreciate it. It’s good to hear from you after all this time. I do wonder whether there’s been some sort of policy change in recent times that has just gone under the radar, that we’re now feeling the effect of. Lena writes, “Until June of this year, I always had good experiences with Apple’s Accessibility answer line. When I called them, I had done a lot of research and my question was always directly related to Voiceover. I always got a follow-up email and a survey. My calls in June were consistently horrible. The first one the guy told me it was a voiceover bug which they’ve known about for a long time. Then he said to me let me give you a special number to call. Want to guess what the special number was? AppleCare. Yes, I sweetly called him out on that. My second call to them in June was also directly voiceover-related.
The Voiceover gesture to raise the volume of voiceover on my new Apple watch was not working. I thought perhaps I wasn’t doing it quite right. I got no help at all, unless you consider this response, “It’s really hard and I can’t do it either,” to be helpful in some way. As for Microsoft Disability Answer Desk, my experiences that the MS Support articles are more useful. “I think this is all about pretend accessibility,” so speaks an unhappy Lena.
I might work my way backwards through this one, Lena. I agree with you that where possible it’s good to search the knowledge base of any company, be it Apple or Microsoft or whoever even a blindness specific organization. If you’re in a position where you’ve got written instructions in front of you to work from, I think it’s preferable to do that. The only time that I call one of these lines is if I’ve got such a significant problem that I need to either report it or I need help getting out of it, something like that.
I must say that I actually find the response from the Apple person you talked to about the gesture on the Apple watch really refreshing. I think that we should give Apple, and actually, Microsoft credit for the fact that they are employing a lot of blind people in these roles. Based on that response it sounds like you were talking to a hardworking blind person at Apple Technical Support, many of whom do a fantastic job and really care about providing quality service to their customers.
I like the fact that he didn’t just tow the company line and feed you a whole lot of bull soup. If you just want to raise the volume of voiceover you can use the rotor now. If I turn on the watch.
Watch Automated Voice: 6:23 AM and 51 seconds.
Jonathan: Oh my word. Then I used the Rotor.
Watch Automated Voice: Setting, language, English UK. Volume–
Jonathan: There’s volume and now I can flick up and down, it’s at 100%. It’s getting quieter. That is a different one from putting your two fingers on the screen and waiting a bit and swiping up and down to adjust the entire vole of the watch. I do find that one quite a bit harder but it is working for me. I’ll show you what I am doing in case it helps. I’ll wake the watch up again in a second but what I’m going to do when I wake it up is take two fingers and perform a two-finger double tap and hold.
If you think of the gesture that you use on your iPhone and your watch to answer a call and do other things, what Apple calls “the magic tap”, perform that but on your second press don’t lift your fingers. Just keep it held down and you’ll hear a little sound. I’ll wake the watch up again.
Watch Automated Voice: 6:26 AM and 4 seconds.
Jonathan: I got to do a double tap and hold with two fingers.
Watch Automated Voice: Lift for control center.
Jonathan: See, now it’s not working. All right, let me just I’m not going to edit this. Let me try it again. That sound is the magic.
Watch Automated Voice: [unintelligible 00:23:30] Mosen, no message. 95%.
Jonathan: So, he’s right, you see. It is really difficult to do but I got that sound. I have done it more reliably when the microphone is not in front of me and I’m under pressure to do it but I don’t want to edit this because I think this makes his point that it is actually really difficult to do. If you follow up with it long enough you will get that tone. When you get that tone keep your fingers held down and then just slide down and up to adjust the entire volume of the watch.
To recap, double tap and hold. If you get lucky you will hear that distinctive tone that tells you that you’re adjusting the volume, and then you should be able to drag your fingers up and down to adjust the volume. There’s a knack to it, there’s no doubt about it. I think while we’re talking about the quality of tech support from a blindness perspective from mainstream companies, I will read this from Micheal Pantelidis, who says, “Hi Jonathan, I am reaching out for your help. Again, you would think I would ring Apple Accessibility for the following issue. Well, I did. The very friendly man I spoke to had no idea and said I should find another way to fix my problem and I should have a great day.
I had an HP laptop with JAWS 2019 on it running Windows 10. I just bought a Dell XPS 13 which I love in the beginning of June. You helped me with an issue I had with Max Waves audio. I just want to have access to my iCloud drive to upload files delete files et cetera. I downloaded the iCloud apps from Microsoft but for some reason, it doesn’t work with JAWS 2021.
I then went on the web version and logged in that way but I could find my iCloud drive folders but I could not open them. Do you have any ideas on how I can access my iCloud drive with this new laptop? Thanks in advance for any help and keep up the great work you do for us.” Thank you so much, Micheal. The iCloud app for Windows isn’t the best, but it is doable. When you install the app for the first time you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID. That’s the same email address that you sign in with for all things Apple on your iPhone and your password.
You probably, at least I hope you do, have two-factor authentication on. At that point, you’ll get a notification on one of your signed-in Apple devices asking you to verify that this is really you and you’ll have to enter a six-digit code. That process is accessible. What you then get is a screen with a series of checkboxes. That can be a little bit difficult to work out but you can use the JAWS touch cursor which in my experience does allow you to navigate those checkboxes and make the selections that you want.
That is a one-off thing. Once you’ve checked those boxes then you are good to go. One of them will be whether you want iCloud Drive. When you’ve done that then your iCloud Drive will just appear in File Explorer in the same way that One Drive or Dropbox would appear in File Explorer. If you haven’t stored their respective apps. It’s a one-off process and you may get future updates to iCloud for Windows where you’re asked to sign in to reauthenticate again. What I found at that point is you can normally just Alt+F4 out of the screen after you’ve signed in and all your past settings are preserved.
Now, if you have access to Aira they could help you do those, if you get really stuck. You can download Aira for free, of course, you get five minutes a day. That could be enough to do this if you’re organized, so install Team Viewer on your laptop, make sure that that’s good to go. That you have the Team Viewer ID for your laptop and the password then call Aira , give them those Team Viewer credentials, and get them to go through the iCloud setup with you. Because once it’s installed and it’s up and running, you will have your iCloud Drive on File Explorer just like everything else.
Now, in my opinion, if Apple wouldn’t help you with this then they have dropped the ball because iCloud for Windows is an Apple product. It’s a pretty dodgy Apple product from an accessibility point of view. If Apple has released an inaccessible app they need to own that. If blind people are having difficulty setting it up because I think you do need some fairly advanced screen reader skills to be happy to do it, then Apple needs to work with you on that.
Speaker 2: Mosen at Large Podcast.
Jonathan: Julia Scofield is writing in and says, “Hello Jonathan. Recently I listened to a podcast from David Woodbridge who was being enthusiastic about the newly updated, as I understand it OrCam MyEye. This was a surprise as I had thought few people with no site found this device easy but those with some vision were fans. David seemed to be trying this out not only for document reading but tasks like finding a chair and more.
I understand some of these more orientation-like features are still in beta. The idea of being in a meeting looking around as it were, and being able to recognize who you were looking at, for example, would be so good. Yes, you do need to ask if you can store the face image sounded great. Often, in these situations the phone or iPad with braille display is already doing overtime with agendas and notes.
As an aside to your session about the new humanwear BIX displays has meant me buying a BI40X already a great device with lots to come. Finding out about the OrCam MyEye has proved tricky. Do you know this device? I’m particularly interested in what people are using it for other than document reading and how those without any site find it. Do you know the forward plan for it? It is probably easier here in the UK to get water out of a stone than find users with no sight willing to share the good and bad.
Two more small points. Has anyone else found that using the Calendar app after updating to iOS 14.6 doesn’t work. After opening, mine jumps to the status bar and sticks there whatever you tap or do on the screen. I too had a failing washing machine with the survey of accessible replacements depressing. App-driven ones seemed to have quirks. Then I looked on the RNIB website and found they were suggesting a Miele model that is spelt M-I-E-L-E. I have this and it’s great factory adapted per individual order. They placed a very professional tactile overlay across the controls, a tad testing on the brain, working out what you can do, and even reprogram, but I haven’t yet found how it makes the toast while doing the wash.
Anyone interested best to get exact details from the RNIB site, and I’d guess could be rather more than the predicted 10 weeks delivery if in New Zealand. Who knows given such empty planes currently, they might give one a seat. Humphrey Guide Dog is waiting to squeak his toy to say hello to Eclipse, such a useful and interesting program with podcast,” concludes Julia. Thank you so much, Julia. A bit to unpack there.
I’m happy with my washing machine, despite the little foibles that we’ve experienced. I like having an app where everything’s controllable and getting the notifications about what it’s up to. That kind of thing. I know of the OrCam MyEye, but I’ve never used one. I’ve often been interested in it and it would be fun to evaluate one, but I have not done so. I too would be interested in the experiences of anyone, whether they be blind or low vision.
Perhaps if you tell us whether you are blind or low vision, so we can put that in some context, that would be helpful. But if you have one of these devices, if you’ve tried one, how useful are they in the real world? Get in touch 1864-60Mosen is the listener line number in the United States, 864-606-6736. Or drop me an email with an audio attachment or write something down, email@example.com.
Regarding your iPhone Calendar app, Julia, I would see if screen recognition has been turned on for that app. Screen recognition is a really handy-dandy feature when you need it, but sometimes it can completely break the accessibility of an app when you turn it on and you don’t need it on. So that would be the first thing I would suggest.
Dean Martineau: Hi Jonathan. Dean Martineau here in Florida about the OrCam. I’ve got a trainee who lost a whole lot of vision over a three-week period last year, she’s the COO of her family business. She needs to go through a great quantity of paper mail. They still get it. With the OrCam, she was able to take that device pointed at just the right place on the envelope or just the right place in a bill and read just the information she needed.
Before that, she was using a Sara SE which was extremely inefficient. She loved the OrCam. The problem with it is its battery life is very low. It’s okay for the occasional user, but she’s a heavy user trying to use it for business purposes and it didn’t work for her. I think it works for a lot of people or devices like that can work for a lot of people. She’s now using the envision glasses with some success and some difficulty, but for people, especially who have had vision, I think these devices have great potential.
Speaker 2: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Jonathan: Calvo and Campbell. Campbell and Calvo could be a law firm, could be maybe a soup manufacturer. We don’t want to talk about soup on the show, but actually, they are the people who are behind Pneuma Solutions, which was Serotek ones. But this is a new company. It’s a new branding and a new product range. We’re going to be doing a demo of one of their solutions, Scribe for Meetings shortly, but we’ve got Mike Calvo and Matt Campbell with us. Once again, we’ve done this over many years on and off. Welcome to you both.
Mike Calvo: Hey there.
Matt Campbell: Hi Jonathan. Good to be back.
Jonathan: Let’s talk about Pneuma Solutions and what you do. If you were giving us an elevator pitch for the company and somebody says, what does Pneuma Solutions do? How would you answer the question?
Mike: Pneuma Solutions main technology is something we call Augmented Media Remediation. What that means is basically it’s a fancy way of saying that we make information or media accessible. We feel that the job of making all kinds of media, whether it be described video, whether it be documents, whether it be meeting content is way too complicated and expensive to scale well for smaller companies and to get it done in time. We have created cloud-based solutions that are easy to use, inexpensive to implement and very robust based on machine learning.
Jonathan: There might be people who say that that’s in essence letting the original content creators or software developers off the hook, and that we get into the same sort of discussion that we have had with accessiBe. You both were on the show subsequent to that big accessiBe special that we did. Do you think it’s not the responsibility of the creator of the content or the software to actually bake accessibility in from the get-go rather than you having to remediate it?
Mike: I do, but the reality is after many years of all of us advocating we’re in a much more accessible world, but is this really how we want to have information as everything becomes more and more digital every day and really at the end of the day, do we really care about how it got accessible or do we care that it’s correctly accessible? I’m not pissed off about accessiBe’s, the fact that what they claim to do, I’m just ticked off that they don’t do it and they never talked to us about it.
If accessiBe worked, I’d be the first one applauding and saying, “Yes, bring on some more of this stuff,” but that’s not what they’re doing. They used us and they made us look like evil, ticked off blind people to do it. The attitude is entirely different. That’s my opinion, send the hate mail to me,
Jonathan: You’ve got a range of remediation solutions and we’re going to talk a lot about Scribe for Meetings and Demonstrator, but that’s just one of a suites of tools. Matt, do you want to tell us about some of the other things that you’re doing?
Matt: Sure. We’re going to talk about Scribe for Meeting shortly, but we also provide a remediation for documents in a variety of formats, including PDF. We can take your PDF documents, perform OCR on them if necessary and preserve the original text. If it’s already there and output a tagged PDF or a variety of other formats and–
Mike: Braille with a capital B, large print MP3.
Jonathan: When you talk about remediation and it’s probably remiss of me not to have said this from the beginning, that’s an accessibility jargon word to some degree. When you explain to somebody who doesn’t understand this, what do you mean when you talk about remediation?
Matt: Basically fixing as many of the accessibility problems as we can. In the case of PDF, that would include making it a tagged PDF. Your screen reader will read it in the correct order with the correct information about headings and lists and tables and whatnot. We can also, at your option, automatically add image descriptions using a cloud-based image description service. This process is fully automated, but we also have an option to send the document to a human, to do further corrections if necessary.
Mike: Which brings us back to what you were saying before. We understand that Augmented Media Remediation isn’t going to work. Even our platform announced about 95%, 96% accurate. But the cool thing is, so you, Jonathan, you go to your local big-box store, you buy something, you go to their website to look up the manual and it’s not accessible. With this tool, it can become accessible. They can install.
I hate to sound like accessiBe, but they can install some code on their website that will make the document as accessible as the technology can make it. Then if it’s not accessible enough, it will give you the consumer of that content, the opportunity to say, “Hey, I want a real human remediated document,” and then provide a path to full remediation, but it doesn’t stop there. Once we get the human remediated copy, we then bring it back into the model, train the model on where it made mistakes when you first requested it. We train it.
The biggest challenge that remediation organizations are having right now is enough people to do the work that needs to get done. When those people get tired, because document remediation is tedious, it doesn’t take a whole lot of smarts, it just takes a whole lot of patience. People get old, people retire, people change careers, and there is such a thing as churn, and the machine learning doesn’t do that. It doesn’t rest. It doesn’t any of that. It keeps going and it’s available within seconds, not weeks
Jonathan: Whose responsibility is it to fund that remediation. I’ve gone and I’ve bought this appliance. Actually, this happens quite a bit and you open the PDF file. At first non-visible glance, it actually does appear accessible. Except when you get to the point where it’s telling you to push a specific button, and there’s a cute little graphic in the PDF, and you have no idea unless you can glean it from the context what they are telling you to press. I’ve got that document as the consumer. How do you get paid for that? Is it the responsibility of the content producer to fix that with you? Or can I, as the consumer say to Pneuma Solutions, “Hey, I’ve got this thing and I can’t read it?”
Mike: There’s two answers to that and that’s the consumer side and the business side of Pneuma. From the consumer side, Pneuma produces a package called Accessibility Anywhere, which is inherited from Serotek. What that does is it gives you consumer versions of all of our technologies, including Scribe for Meetings, including Scribe for Documents. That’ll be built into a browser that we’re releasing later this year. Don’t tell anybody.
Jonathan: Right, it’s our secret, no one listens to this.
Mike: Of course, not. Then it’s also built into an extension that David has written that will be out later as well. Then on the business side of things, we come to, for example, let’s just use a Home Depot here in the states as an example, because Home Depot has a variety of products from a variety of companies and Home Depot just sells this stuff. They’re not responsible for making all of these manuals accessible or are they?
If they are, with our service, they can pay us a monthly subscription. We will handle all of the documents on their site and including providing them the path to remediation and also going back to the consumer and making sure that the remediation was done to their liking.
Jonathan: You mentioned that a consumer could request a human intervention for a situation where machine-based remediation just doesn’t cut the mustard. Does that document that one individual user has requested human remediation for end up back in the pool as it were so that other blind people in the future accessing that document on the website it came from, gets the human remediated version as well, or is there some manual process involved in making that available?
Mike: Great question. No, actually, let’s say you come across a washing machine manual that you’re looking for and it’s not very accessible. You use our technology on the company that you purchased from its website, it’s not accessible enough for you. You push a button, it comes back. We send it to the remediation people. We make sure it’s good. We send it back to you, “Jonathan, here it is.” You look at it, we send you a survey. Do you like it? This and then the other. Yes. Okay.
We put it back into– we replace the document that you originally requested that was inaccessible with the human remediated one and then we go back and we train the model that we use to create the augmented remediated document to begin with. We go back, we train the model, and show it. You did this wrong, you did that wrong. You did the other wrong. The next time it comes across a document like that it’s not going to make that mistake again.
Jonathan: This is interesting. I’m hearing so many examples of this where essentially the biggest IP that some of these new companies have is the data that they collect that influence their AI. There’s just so much value in that, right?
Mike: AI is nothing more than a guessing game. It’s a sophisticated guessing game, but as a blind person, when I get a document or when you guys get documents, what do you do? You say, “Let me try this, see if it works. No, that doesn’t work. Let me try that. Let’s see if that works.” All we’ve got is a machine that does it and says, “Okay, I’m going to do this and this and this and based on what I see here,” and it does what you and I could take an hour to do, it does it in milliseconds. That’s really what AI boils down to for the layman. It just, it really does some really smart guessing.
Matt: Jonathan, to answer your question, the data that we’re collecting is valuable.
Mike: Oh, sure.
Jonathan: Yes, I have no doubt of that because I worked for Aira and I know that one of the things that they were really intrigued by is what can they do with all of this data they’re collecting about the way blind people engage with the world, the things that they need human assistance with, and how can you use that data to then create automated processes? I think this is one of the interesting things about what you’re doing is I’ve been using Aira for these very things for the last three years or so, but when it’s remediated for me and I get an Aira agent to do those things, I’m the only one who really benefits from that remediation because I paid for it.
I got the agent to do it. It’s now safely on my computer, but unless I’m on an email list or something like that, where I can disseminate it, no one else benefits from it and potentially there are some copyright issues in circulating an alternative format version as an individual. This is an intriguing concept.
Mike: We’re hoping that the community really helps us push this because we met 20 years ago almost to the month we did an interview you and I, and the world has changed so much for all of us, but back then, it used to be all of us for all of us. Now, I think you’ve been touched on, on your podcast. I see where people are advocating for me, but we really need to also understand that we need to advocate for we. That other guy over there, he’s not going to necessarily do it so you need to do it too.
That’s a big thing for us where we are– don’t be fooled folks, neither Matt nor I walked away from Serotek anywhere near millionaires. We’re not millionaires today. We’re both supplementing our income as we build this company because we believe in what we’re doing and we need your help to advocate. We need you guys to learn this technology. Just because your iPhone talks and your computer talks, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be a geek anymore.
If you want to be on the bleeding edge, if you want to learn how to use stuff, then you need to learn and study and we’re here to help do that, but we need your help to help us advocate and get people to use these very inexpensive community-building tools.
Jonathan: What does that help comprise of in a practical sense? Let’s say I go and I get my manual for my new Samsung washing machine, which is suddenly talking to our Wi-Fi again, hooray. I find that indeed, as I have found that there are a number of inaccessible things. What should I do about that? Do I contact Pneuma Solutions? Is there a way that I can get an accessible version of that from you? Or do I have to go back to Samsung and say, “Samsung, I think you should contact Pneuma Solutions because they can help you with this.”
Mike: Yes and yes. The first yes is once we bring, so let me go a little back here. Scribe for Augmented Document Remediation was ready to a certain degree to be released last March. We all know what happened last March and we put that aside. We use what we had for a program that we released for free called Scribe for Education and that was because people didn’t have access to the resource departments anymore and you had parents that knew nothing about accessibility, trying to teach their visually impaired kids at home.
We gave that out for free, but we did not package the technology into solutions just yet because immediately after that, we didn’t know how long this problem with COVID was going to go on. We felt that we could apply the Augmented Media Remediation technology to remote meetings, which is what we’re going to talk about in a minute.
We’re coming back around and on the website, we have a number of informational resources that you would contact Samsung and say, “Listen, here is a company that does to documents what you need to have done. You’re Samsung, you have probably millions of PDFs that need to have this done. It would cost you tens of millions of dollars to have it done the conventional way. These people can cut it down to pennies per page,” and we can.
Jonathan: You could potentially employ a bunch of blind people to be commission-based salespeople to do that work for you too, right?
Mike: Sure. We hire blind first. I was actually in a magazine article a few years ago where I said, if you’re blind, you have a better chance of getting a job with us than if your sight is– “Reverse discrimination,” I said, “Sue me.”
Jonathan: Good on you. Yes, because obviously you’ve got to spread the word about this solution and I think explained it in a pithy way so that people understand what it does. There could be an opportunity for commission-based sales as you ramp up, I would have thought.
Mike: For sure.
Jonathan: Let’s talk about Scribe for Meetings. We’re going to demonstrate this in some depth, but again, tell us a bit about Scribe for Meetings, either of you, and what its purpose is.
Matt: As I’m sure, many of you are aware, when you’re in an online Zoom meeting or any other online meeting platform and the presenters start sharing their screen. That shared content is currently completely inaccessible. This is the problem that Scribe for Meetings solves. All the meeting presenter has to do is upload their slides. We currently only support PowerPoint slides.
We’ll be working on supporting other forms of shared content, but we’re starting with PowerPoint slides because that is the most common. A presenter can upload their PowerPoint slides to our cloud service and then you, as the attendee, will have a link that you can open in your web browser alongside Zoom and we will give you real-time access to those slides as a fully accessible web page during the meeting.
Jonathan: We use teams internally in my organization, but most of the external things I do are still done with Zoom. I immediately see the benefit of doing this in Zoom, doesn’t teams have a way of doing this to some degree with a PowerPoint presentation? I have heard that if you’re sharing your screen, there is a way to make the PowerPoint presentation come alive for a screen reader user. Is that correct?
Matt: It does, but I’ll tell you in the time that I was at Microsoft, and especially in the last several months that I was there when we were doing remote meetings all the time, the only teams meetings where I saw the presentation were being done in the accessible way, were the meetings being presented by the product managers on my team, the window’s accessibility team. Even the other developers on my team, did not do the presentation in the accessible way. I’m not sure why, but apparently, the accessible way of running a PowerPoint presentation in teams is not the most natural way that everyone does by default.
Mike: Here is where we go back to what you were saying earlier, Jonathan, do we really care how it gets accessible or do we care that it’s accessible? Here, you’ve got a way for Microsoft to make documents accessible, but I’m sure in their very Microsoftian way, it takes you’ve got to stand on one foot and look at the sun properly in the wind and the moon got in the wind and everything’s got to be aligned properly and there’s a learning curve to it. With the solutions we’re making and we’re producing and this includes teams later on very soon, hopefully, that these are seamless solutions that will allow a presenter to do what he does and just make a couple of normal clicks and just include us, as opposed to having to redo everything in a specialized way and know how to do it.
Matt: In particular, note that with Scribe for Meetings, the presenter needs to upload their slides in advance, but they don’t need to do the screen sharing in any special way during the meeting and they don’t have to run any software during the meeting. They do need to allow what we call the Scribe for Meetings, but to come into the meeting and even that is only applicable if your meeting has a waiting room and I’m sure you’ll get to all that during the demo, but they really don’t need to do much of anything special during the meeting once they’ve uploaded their slides. That is not the case with the current solution in teams.
Jonathan: Just while we talk about the Scribe for Meetings bot, obviously there are some situations where a lot of presentations are highly commercially sensitive and a lot of Zoom meeting content is highly confidential, what assurances can you give about the Scribe for Meetings bot, what is it actually doing?
Matt: The bot is watching what is being shared on the screen and matching that content with one of the slides that the presenter previously uploaded. The bot does not record the screen-shared content or any other aspect of the meeting.
Mike: We don’t store any of that anywhere.
Jonathan: Once again, we’ve got two scenarios here. One is that you could be with an organization that really has a desire, and in fact, in many cases, a duty to make sure that when they run a presentation in a Zoom meeting, it’s accessible, so you’re pitching to those organizations, and rightly so. Then there might be people who meet with many organizations who very seldom encounter a disabled user and so it’s the user, the attendee themselves who is blind, who wants to take that passport, if you will, that remediation passport with them and say, “Because I am attending this meeting with you, I want you to send me this PowerPoint presentation or whatever and this will go on my Scribe for Meetings account.”
Mike: Right. Like we were talking about the documents earlier, exactly the same thing. With a couple of minor advances because we’ve developed that more for Scribe for Meetings on the Scribe for Meetings website, and on the Numa website, we have something called the self-advocacy kit or the sack. What it does is it allows a person to send one of 10 Letters to an organization that they frequent, to encourage them to make themselves accessible. We don’t stop there, we also empower the print impaired attendee to also give them a pass, very similar to what you gave us today to come on to Cleanfeed, and say, “Hey, click on this link, upload your PowerPoint presentation and that’s it.” The PowerPoint presentation does not need to be accessible. It does not need to be marked up for accessibility. I don’t know if the one that you use for your demo is or not, but had it not then, we would do all of that for you.
Jonathan: What are you charging for Scribe for Meetings?
Mike: For individuals, it’s $25 a month or $250 a year. If you are a member of our accessibility anywhere community on the Cerro software, it is included for free. If you are an organization, a university, for example, Ohio State University just implemented Scribe for Meetings campus-wide, it’s $2,500 for the year or $250 a month and that price will be going up in the future, not not for consumers, but for the organizations. Whoever wants to get in on that, we are keeping the price for the technology the same for you for life if you sign up for now, but that is for meetings, not for webinars. I know this gets confusing.
Webinars are different than meetings. Meetings are what we’re doing right now, we’re all talking. Webinars are one to many or a group to many, we do those for free. We give those away to any organization that wants it, including other IT companies. If there is an IT company or any other organization that wants to provide information in an accessible format through screen shares in their webinars, they are more than welcome to come and sign up for a free account and use the technology.
I’ve actually talked to organizations that serve the blind that are like, “But we’ve never done that before, we don’t need to.” I was like, “Why?” They’ve got takeaways, they’ve got information of yours that they can download in alternative formats. Can you imagine and the freedom in that?” Please encourage your IT companies, any company that is going to do a webinar to come to us and we will do it for nothing.
Jonathan: That is very generous, but an interesting business decision because the organizations that can afford a Zoom webinar license are probably the ones that can most afford to pay you.
Mike: What we’re hoping for is it’s kind of that Kool-Aid mentality, I guess. We’re hoping that it becomes ubiquitous enough that people start asking for it on mass, but we’ve got a chicken and an egg scenario there, where if an organization doesn’t see the need, they’re not going to buy it. If the consumer doesn’t feel the need, they’re not going to advocate for it.
Jonathan: I have to ask these questions because I’m a pain in the butt journalist. I want to see how much I can talk about the roadmap. When do you think this will start working for other platforms besides Zoom?
Matt: We plan to implement support for teams before the calendar year is over, other platforms will follow, but I can’t commit to a timeline for those.
Jonathan: You did mention and given that there is no one listening we can pursue this a bit more, you talked about a browser. Now, I find this interesting because you and I, Mike, have a fundamental disagreement over a term that you loved to use some years back about so-called blindness ghetto products, which as you know, I find deeply wrong and offensive. Why do we need to use your terminology of blindness ghetto web browser, when the others are so accessible?
Mike: Blind ghetto first of all was totally made to be very offensive. It is it and it should piss you off every time you hear it.
Jonathan: It does.
Mike: It is.
Jonathan: Probably doesn’t do your business model any good.
Mike: No, it was a term Chris Hofstetter and I came up with many years ago because it’s how we felt every time we needed to jump through all kinds of crazy hoops to get anything done in these closed garden technologies that cost tens of thousands of dollars to buy or thousands and thousands of dollars. Blind ghetto does not mean that it’s for blind people only. Listen, many of these, with the exception of the price of them, some of these new technologies that are based around Android, that are being put out by Hims and stuff are great. Your Mantis keyboard is an amazing product. I would never dare call that a blind ghetto product, but things like sacred L Braille, that to me, is the definition of a ghetto product.
Jonathan: That is really interesting. I fundamentally disagree with that.
Mike: That’s okay.
Jonathan: I’m going to take you on about it because to me,-
Mike: I’m good. I don’t get mad about this.
Jonathan: – the ElBraille is a laptop without a screen and it’s a laptop that permits a blind person to have a much more portable device than anyone else, precisely because braille is an advantage. With braille, you only need eight keys and a space bar. It’s going to go for much longer on a battery, than any other laptop device out there in the sighted market.
Is there anything necessarily wrong with having a product that is designed to meet a specific market? Don’t we owe ourselves the respect to say we’re entitled to products that meet our specific needs as much as anyone else. If you look at the Chinese market, for example, the iPhone has a specific model and specific features for China. Would you call it a Chinese ghetto product?
Mike: That’s a political discussion, but with respect to what you’re saying-
Jonathan: Pick any other market. There are certain areas where Apple does certain things for specific geographical market, why should a geographical market be treated differently from a market based on need?
Mike: Even with China, if you want to get the latest iPhone, you’re not going to pay any more than everybody else, but if you want a ghetto product, you’re going to pay multiples of what other people are paying for a similar device for the mainstream community. Also, the upgradability of this technology is hard. The out of the box specs stock for the money you pay and then the upgradability of it is terrible. The only way that it’s going to work properly for the majority of the time, if you’re using the braille input is if the software underneath has been rigged to work that way.
Again, it’s not a transparent solution. It’s not a side-by-side solution. You’ve still got to go to a special place to get it. You’ve still got to go beg and plead here, at least, in the US and get a government funding organization because very few people can afford that. If you’re getting a braille device, you’ve got to get the maintenance for it because we all know they break down. There’s a number of things that are holding it back and keeping the community in bondage, thus it fits, in my view, as a ghetto product.
Jonathan: You know that the reason why those costs are higher is because you’re spreading the cost of manufacture across a small number of units. I would argue to you that this is another form of remediation and that you saying this is absolute hypocrisy, given the work that you are now doing, because a blind user of an ElBraille is simply having their braille-related needs remediated. There is a cost to that remediation and you are charging us or the businesses you want to work with, a cost for the remediation that you’re involved in. Aren’t you doing a blind ghetto product yourself?
Mike: It’s an interesting way of looking at it. By the way, just in defense of the ElBraille, I use the ElBraille as there are other devices that we could throw rocks at too. I have no ax to grind against the ElBraille. It is not like the stupid Intel reader that was put out a few years ago, which I wrote a scathing article about. I have nothing, no ax to grind against the ElBraille in particular. I just pulled that one out of my head, as an example.
No, I don’t believe that it’s the same, because I believe, first of all, I’m not charging our community. I’m not fleecing the community or any government agency to provide a product that that’s needed.
Jonathan: That’s a creature of the business model, Mike. Here in New Zealand, in Europe, as I’m sure you’re well aware and countries like Columbia, where I know you have spent a little bit of time in recent years, you know full well that what goes on there is that governments realize that it is their responsibility to level the playing field by giving a blind person the technology that they require to be as employable, as productive as they can be. The fact that the United States may struggle in this area does not make that technology bad or wrong. It makes the US system deficient.
Mike: I agree partially with what you’re saying there. First of all, yes. The United States system is deficient and I’m not familiar with neither Europe nor New Zealand’s way of dealing with just people that are at home. I’m not talking about somebody who’s looking for an education or someone who’s looking for a job. There are many people who need a braille note or whatever, just to take notes when they get a phone call. They can’t get one here because they can’t get a job because the overwhelming job availability in the blindness community, it’s not possible. It is an elitist thing.
I call BS on the spreading out over a small market. I think these companies have coerced to keep that technology very expensive. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age, we’re still dealing with the PAs braille cells or whatever the hell they’re called. You were the product manager, you know what called.
Jonathan: Piezoelectric cells. If there was a viable alternative, it’s an open market. You or anybody could come in and disrupt it. In fact, the proof that it is very difficult to disrupt is an Orbit research, where a bunch of agencies got together and said exactly the nonsense that you are saying, that “Established assistive technology companies are trying to fleece everybody, so we are going to collaborate. We’re going to get together and we are going to come out with a refreshable braille display that kicks their butt.” The reality was it was way more difficult than they imagined. There have been various iterations of it that are problematic. I think that is disrespectful to blind people, who just want their braille to work. Even the thing they have now is noisy. If it’s as simple as you say, why has no one not just come in and disrupted it?
Mike: There’s an interesting point you bring up about the Orbit because I have one. I am in no way, shape or form as heavy a braille user, as you are. In fact, I admire how you use braille, but I do need braille from time to time. For me, $500 or $600 for a braille display fit just fine. It fit into my budget and it gave me an option. It is a product for us, for blind people and it’s an economical one. I’m not held hostage to having to pay the thousands of dollars that it costs.
The cost of braille has come down significantly from where it was when we started 20 years ago.
Jonathan: Indeed I’m very proud of the fact that I have been a product manager who has led two separate 40% reductions in braille display.
Mike: Yes sir, absolutely.
Jonathan: I’m not saying to you that I’m knocking the Orbit either. I think it’s great that they got there, but the point I’m making is it was much harder to get there than anybody ever said it was going to be. Also, there’s even now-
Mike: As well, why don’t you sell it to Zoom. I feel you, man.
Jonathan: It’s noisy.
Mike: Again, I don’t believe that we have the amount of holding people hostage to platforms, to proprietary lesser technologically advanced platforms that we used to in our community.
Jonathan: That’s emotive, Mike. Holding people hostage is just nonsense language. How is the fact that I need an ElBraille to go about my job, being held hostage to anything? It’s just a consumer preference that I’m expressing.
Mike: If I need an ElBraille just to do things at home and I don’t have a job, I can’t afford that ElBraille. It’s an elitist product.
Jonathan: No, it’s not an elitist product. It’s an outrageous situation that advocacy hasn’t taken care of the fact that we acknowledge that blindness does come with specific costs that investing in this technology, so that anybody who needs it can have. It is an investment that will actually return dividends because the tax that an earning achieving blind person will pay, if they have the technology that they require to succeed, will well and truly repay the investment in the technology that they were given in the first place.
Mike: That is the spirit that VR was created in here in the United States many years ago. I’m afraid and sad to say has fallen far short of what those expectations were. You’re absolutely right on that.
Jonathan: That’s not the fault of the manufacturer of the product.
Mike: I’m not going to get into that a 100%. It does when deal with government agencies, that when you come to them, for example, with a lower cost screen reader, that may not fit the bill for everything, but it does give choice and they say it’s not a JAWS or it’s not a or it’s not of that. We don’t do that. Accessibility, isn’t JAWS specific, it’s accessibility specific.
I can tell you that from personal experience, with trying to break into government markets with system access, which for many low end of the pool people, which are people that need very little, that require that we’re only capable of very little training or could afford very little training, the government agencies just didn’t buy it because it wasn’t JAWS.
Jonathan: I completely agree with you about this-
Mike: That was here, buy the way.
Jonathan: – that one of the technology challenges there, one of the challenges that we have is that when there is so much more choice out there, it’s difficult for funders to keep up. Take JAWS as an example, we buy JAWS. We always buy JAWS, no matter what the need of this individual, we will buy JAWS. That is shortchanging the individual, who may have quite a different need. I agree with you about that, but that to me is a separate issue. It’s a good discussion, but my question was all the way back then, why do we really need-
Mike: Do I miss you, man. I miss you, bro. I miss you so much, man. We used to have these conversations whenever we meet up at the conferences, man. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Jonathan: Because we were discussing, why do we need a blindness-specific browser from Pneuma solutions?
Mike: I think that you should give the tech side before I give the philosophical. People are probably like, “Shut up about the philosophy already.”
Matt: Sure. The short answer is the convenience of having all of the features that can make web browsing easier for us, integrated in one place. This includes, first of all, of course, the AccessiBye-bye extension, which we previously discussed on the podcast, is built into the browser. We have an integrated ad blocker, an integrated reader mode with smart default behavior, where we will automatically detect whether reader mode is appropriate for the website that you’re visiting and turn it on for you.
Matt: Yes, the community-supported accessible web is our service for letting the community contribute labels for images and other things. The browser UI is optimized for us. For instance, when you’re tabbing through the web page, and you get to the end of the content, we will wrap around back to the start of the content, instead of taking you to the tab bar or whatever Edge or Chrome is doing this week. You can get to the browser UI with a hotkey and we keep that UI very simple.
Mike: It’s based on Chromium too. It’s based on Chrome.
Jonathan: It’s going to feel like Chrome and Edge?
Matt: Yes, but with the convenience of having all of these features that we’ve just talked about already there by default. It’s similar to the argument that we made when we were first starting to talk about FreedomBox back in the day. You can assemble all of the pieces that you need for a productive and enjoyable online experience from various places or you can get it all in one convenient package from us.
If I may weigh in a bit on the blind getter discussion, one difference that’s worth keeping in mind between this software and the hardware products that we were talking about earlier, is economies of scale are much more of an issue with custom hardware, than with custom software. With custom hardware, it has to be more expensive, just because it’s manufactured in such smaller quantities. That doesn’t have to be a problem with specialized software.
Jonathan: I think that might depend on support though. I think if you are really supporting somebody on the job and you are employing a good team of tech support people and good training resources are being maintained, then that is an area where you do have fewer customers to spread the cost of tech support. With UI automation and things, it’s not that hard these days to throw a screen reader together. What’s the challenge though, is when your livelihood depends on it and you need to call someone.
Mike: For a browser, first of all, this browser is free and it is a vehicle that we will use to also upsell stuff to people, our other technology.
Jonathan: The comment is a bit more general, just going back to our previous discussions, that’s why I was commenting on that. All right. Let me ask you about updates to this browser because Chrome and Edge get updated on a fairly regular basis. Does that mean that since we’re using the Chromium engine, does that mean that you’ll just hook into the Chromium engine updates and those underlying engine updates will come thick and fast as well?
Matt: Yes, we will keep up with updates to the Chromium engine. Our browser is based on a popular and well-funded open source project called Electron, which is based on the Chromium engine. Electron puts out a major release for every other major release of Chromium. Let’s say the current version of Electron is based on Chromium 90. The next one will be based on Chromium 92 and 94 and so forth.
The project also picks up security updates from Chromium in the interim. The point is that we will not necessarily get every single major update to Chromium, but we will pick up the security updates and we will have a consistent update cadence. You might not get every new feature in Chromium right away.
Mike: I think that’s a feature, actually, because we have the opportunity to vet the interims and just say, “Okay, how are we going to work this when it comes around because we still have access to things, we still have the weight of playing of these things.” We’re just a little bit more cautious about doing updates. Our community of users, of which we have a couple thousand still on Cerro, is very used to things being the same. That slow and steady wins the race, we don’t want to upset the applecart too much.
Being very aggressive at updates, unless it’s a security thing where your machine is going to blow up or something bad’s going to happen, we’re going to introduce features as we can explain them and as we can make sure that they are accessible because the bottom line to this browser is accessibility. We want it to be the most accessible web experience you’ve had. By the way, to toot our own horn, we’ve done that before.
Matt: Also, I should clarify, that while we are based on the Chromium engine, basically, the content rendering part of Chromium, the UI part of the browser is all ours.
Mike: It’s all ours. The UI and the UX.
Jonathan: Will there be the ability to synchronize favorites, bookmarks, user settings across devices?
Matt: Yes, that has been part of the Cerro service, ever since it was called FreedomBox 2.0. That will be part of this new browser as well.
Jonathan: Have you got a name for this browser yet?
Mike: Not yet. The Cerro browser, we don’t know yet.
Jonathan: Feel free to call it Jonathan. I mean, that’s a great name. The Jonathan browser, it’s got a ring to it. Well, as always, it is really good to hear you guys thinking about things and innovating and I always enjoy our discussions a lot. We’re about to go into a demo of Scribe for Meetings. Thank you both for that. It’s a really good product. I can see myself using it in my own work. I appreciate all the work that you’ve both put in and continue to put in.
Mike: Jonathan, I’ve got to tell you, just again, thank you for what you do for us as a community. Your selflessness is unbelievable and the level of information you bring, I thank you for just as a community member, as a friend, and just as a person that I really, really appreciate knowing and just love what you do. They’re going to tell us as they did many years ago to go get a room, but man, I am a huge fan, bro. Thank you so much for all you do.
Jonathan: I appreciate that. Thank you both very much.
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Jonathan: To demonstrate Scribe for Meetings, I’m going to use two computers. With the first computer, I’m going to run Scribe for Meetings, schedule my Zoom meeting, do all the things that a host of a Zoom meeting would do. Then on the second computer, I’m going to come in as an attendee of the meeting, I want to receive the accessible experience. To make this easier, we’ve got a British accent on the Scribe computer, the host computer and we have an American accent on the attendee computer.
For those familiar with nuance Vocalizer Voices, we are using the Oliver voice as the meeting host. That’s a British voice. We’re using the US Tom voice as the attendee voice. I’ve already gone ahead and I’ve set up a Zoom meeting. All I’ve done is I’ve gone into my Zoom application and I’ve gone through the process of scheduling a meeting, of getting the URL for that meeting. That URL is now on my clipboard.
I’m using the Brave Browser for this demo because it is not as verbose as Microsoft Edge has now become with all of its irritating loading messages and so it’s going to give us a cleaner demo. I’ll go to the address bar in my browser.
Automated Voice: Address and search bar.
Jonathan: I’m going to type www.scribeformeetings.com and press enter.
Automated Voice: Selected scribeformeetings.com, welcome scribes for meeting brief, main region, invite link edit.
Jonathan: As soon as we go to the Scribe for Meetings website, we’re placed in an edit field, where we can paste in a URL for Zoom, which is the only platform supported at the time of recording. Pneuma solutions doesn’t tend to add more later. That’s a really nice touch, like when you go to the Google search page and you’ll pop right into the edit mode you heard there, that JAWS turned forms mode on. We are ready to paste this URL. I’ll press ctrl V to do that.
Automated Voice: Pasted.
Jonathan: I’ll perform a say line to make sure that it’s there.
Automated Voice: invite link it at https//workbridge.zoom.
Jonathan: There we go. That’s fine. That’s enough for me to know that the URL is there. I’ll press tab.
Automated Voice: Welcome, scribe for meetings, go button.
Jonathan: There’s a go button. I’ll press space to activate it.
Automated Voice: Event not registered Scribe for Meetings, two regions and two links. Event not registered Scribe for Meetings Scribe navigation region list of one items. Login, list and navigation region and meaning region. This event isn’t yet registered with Scribe for Meetings. Click here. If you want to register this event on behalf of the host, button. Click here, if you are the host of this event, button.
Jonathan: We are told that the event is not registered with Scribe for Meetings. If it were, then even though it is possible for somebody to send you a direct Scribe for Meetings link to slides that they have uploaded, and we’ll cover that later in this demonstration. If you were to just paste in the URL of the Zoom meeting, that would be enough to find it on the system of Scribe for Meetings, if it had already been registered. In this case, of course, we are setting it up.
The first option that you have is to register the meeting on behalf of the host. This is a new feature that’s just been added to Scribe for Meetings at the time that I’m putting this demonstration together. Broadly speaking, there are two scenarios in which Scribe for Meetings accounts may be allocated. One is where it might belong to the organization and that would be appropriate if your organization does a lot of meetings where accessibility is important and it should be important to everybody, of course.
The other scenario is actually one that I’m confronted with. This is that you attend meetings every so often with a range of organizations and you’d like your Scribe for Meetings to be a an accessibility passport that goes with you so that when you are going to attend a meeting with an organization you pop into once in a while, you can say, “Here are my requirements. I’m going to register this meeting on your behalf.” In this scenario, though, I am the host of the meeting and we’ll push the appropriate button.
Automated Voice: Main region, email edit required, invalid entry.
Jonathan: Now, I’m being given the opportunity to log in. Once again, I’m popped right into that form field, where I can type my email address that’s associated with Scribe for Meetings.
Automated Voice: Required.
Jonathan: I’ll press tab.
Automated Voice: Login Scribe for Meetings, verified button.
Jonathan: I will press space to verify.
Automated Voice: Please check your email for a link to verify Your address, verify required. Edit Jonathan, please check your email for a link to verify your address. Once you’ve received your link, please activate it to continue. For now, you may close this page. Main region end.
Jonathan: This technique is one that I’ve seen coming up more and more often now. I use a service called StreamYard and they do this as well, where when you log in from a new computer, you don’t have to remember your password. You simply type in your email address, you fire up your email client or if you use a web-based client, you can go to the web page for your email client and there’s an email there. You authenticate that way. It’s elegant , it’s a really good system. My suspicion is that, if I tab into my email client-
Automated Voice: In box primary mail, outlook.
Jonathan: Let’s just go to the bottom here.
Automated Voice: Scribe for Meetings. Please verify your email address, Tuesday 6th.
Jonathan: There it is. I will press enter on this email.
Automated Voice: Hello, thank you for your interest in Scribe for Meetings. Please activate this link to verify your email address and begin using Scribe for Meetings. Thanks again and we hope you find Scribe for Meetings useful. The Pneuma Solutions team.
Jonathan: All right, we’ll go back to activate this link.
Automated Voice: Activate this link to verify your email address, link.
Jonathan: I’ll press enter. I’ll navigate to the first heading on the page.
Automated Voice: New event heading level one.
Jonathan: We’ll read from here.
Automated Voice: New event. To make our events accessible, all you need is a PowerPoint slide deck. Scribe for Meetings also supports multiple slide decks in a single event. Your content will be ready to launch within five minutes for a typical slide deck. No knowledge of creating accessible documents is required. The host does not need to run extra software on their device and content can be uploaded as little as five minutes before the meeting. Step one, give your meeting a title.
Jonathan: I will navigate this form.
Automated Voice: Main region, title edit.
Jonathan: I’ll type in Scribe for Meetings test and confirm.
Automated Voice: Title edit Scribe for Meetings test.
Jonathan: I’ll press tab.
Automated Voice: Untitled Scribe for Meetings PowerPoint file button.
Jonathan: Now I need to upload the PowerPoint slide and I think for this, I’ll use the presentation that I gave on global accessibility awareness day. I’ll press the space bar.
Automated Voice: Open dialogue, file name, edit combo.
Jonathan: I will navigate to the place where I keep speeches and presentations. Now I’ll press G.
Automated Voice: Gaad2021.pptx12of24.
Jonathan: There is the PowerPoint presentation for global accessibility awareness day, abbreviated to GAAD, I’ll press enter.
Automated Voice: Untitled Scribe for Meetings, brave unavailable, main region PowerPoint file button.
Jonathan: Now, we’ll navigate down.
Automated Voice: Heading level two, step three, optional, customize settings, language combo box automatically detect, add image descriptions. Checkbox checked. Allow attendees to download accessible versions of slides. Checkbox not checked.
Jonathan: I’m going to check this box, so that we can take a look at the accessible versions that Scribe for Meetings generates.
Automated Voice: Allow attendees to download accessible versions of slides. Checkbox checked.
Jonathan: Then we’ll go down again.
Automated Voice: Done button.
Jonathan: There’s a done button. I’ll press that.
Automated Voice: Done button.
Jonathan: Now at this point, the slideshow is uploading.
Automated Voice: Untitled Scribe for Meetings navigation and region. Graphic visited scribe. Preparing accessible slides…22.
Jonathan: Now, as this goes on, I am not touching the computer.
Automated Voice: Your accessible slides are now ready.
Jonathan: That was simple, wasn’t it?
Automated Voice: Visited link graphic Scribe for Meetings test heading level one. Your accessible slides ready. Link optional add more slides. Below is a message that you can include in your meeting invitation or manually send any print-impaired participants. We’d only had it for print-impaired participants. The on-screen content in this meeting is accessible through Scribe for Meetings. Follow this link to use Scribe for Meetings blank, https//[unintelligible 01:27:16]
Jonathan: We won’t disclose that URL, but I’ll go down.
Automated Voice: Copy to clipboard button.
Jonathan: I will press the space bar to copy this to the clipboard.
Automated Voice: Okay button.
Jonathan: I’ll press JAWS with B, to read this dialog box.
Automated Voice: scripeformeetings.com, says dialogue scrieformeetings.com says copy to clipboard, okay button selected.
Jonathan: What you’d do is when you’re in the chat for the Zoom meeting would be a good place to do this. You could potentially paste this little message into your Zoom chat. If you’re concerned that there may be people who aren’t familiar with how to use Zoom chat, you can do it as they suggest and email this link. It’s a self-contained message. If you’ve got attendees who you know are blind or low vision and you want them to have this message, you can just paste it into an email and email it to the blind or low vision attendees.
A final way you might do it is include this information in notes to your calendar invite. If you’re sending something out through Microsoft Outlook, there is a notes field you can put as much in there as you like. You could include the Scribe for Meetings URL in the notes to the calendar invitation.
That is the entire workflow that a host has to go through. Let’s just recap because we’ve gone through it in slow mo as it were, so you understand the process, but it’s actually very quick and very simple. First create the Zoom meeting, which you’re going to have to anyway, as the host. When you’ve done that, go to scribeformeetings.com and tell it about that Zoom URL, then upload your slides and then in some way or other disseminate to potential blind and low vision attendees, the link to the accessible version of the slides. That’s all there is to it. It will only take a couple of minutes. Once it’s done, the host can then proceed with their Zoom meeting and completely forget about the fact that they’ve done the right thing and made their content accessible.
It’s time to bring in the role of the attendee into this process now, and a reminder that when I’m being the host of the meeting, you’re hearing Oliver, the British voice. When I’m being the attendee, you’re hearing Tom an American voice, which will hopefully make it really clear, which is which? There’s a great old song called, I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter. I will spare singing it for you, but it’s a great old song. You hear it on Mushroom FM, sometimes. Well, in this case, I’ve sat right down as the host and I’ve sent myself as the attendee and email. On the attendee computer, it’s now in the Outlook inbox there.
Jonathan Mosen Zoom meeting, there we go. I will open that email and see what it says.
Automated Voice: Hello, Jonathan, this is Jonathan. Now, Jonathan, at the appointed time, please join the Zoom meeting by choosing the following link.
Jonathan: This is the Zoom URL.
Automated Voice: I will be running a slide show, which will be accessible to you. To use this feature, once you are connected to the Zoom meeting, please choose this link, link H.
Jonathan: That’s the Scribe for Meetings link and that’s all the email says. It has those two pertinent pieces of information for me as the attendee, the link to join the Zoom meeting, and the link for the accessible version of the slides. Now, it’s time for me to go back to being the host and start this Zoom meeting. I’ll go to the start menu on the host computer.
Automated Voice: Search box edit.
Jonathan: We’ll go to Zoom.
Automated Voice: Zoom, app, press right to switch preview.
Jonathan: We’ll press enter to launch Zoom.
Automated Voice: Connecting Zoom cloud meetings, Zoom.
Jonathan: Now we’ll tab through to find the meeting.
Automated Voice: Meeting subject selected. Search edit. Zoom, Jonathan Mosen. Refresh button. Upcoming meetings, tab checked selected. Scheduled meeting button. Meeting topic Scribe for Meetings demo meeting time today 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM.
Jonathan: There we go. That’s the Scribe for Meetings demo. That’s what I’ve called this meeting. I will press enter to make sure it’s in focus and then I will press tab.
Automated Voice: Scribe for meetings, 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM now. Host Jonathan meeting ID 81 Start button.
Jonathan: I’m going to start the meeting.
Automated Voice: Zoom. You are no longer a co-host. You are connected to computer audio. You are in the meeting hosted by Jonathan Mosen with one participants. Your audio is unmuted your video is on.
Jonathan: We are good to go. That’s brilliant. The first thing I’m going to do before I forget to do it is to mute my audio here because with two Zoom things in close proximity, it will be great fun if I didn’t.
Automated Voice: Unmute my audio with alt plus a or press and hold the space key to temporarily unmute.
Jonathan: I press alt a on my windows.
Automated Voice: Audio now muted. You’re muted. Press alt plus a to unmute your microphone or press and hold the space key to temporarily unmute.
Jonathan: What happened there was I pressed alt-A the windows command on the Zoom client to mute my audio but then I tried to start to talk and it warned me that I’m talking but I am muted, but it settles down after a while and we should be good from here.
The next thing I want to do is attend this Zoom meeting as an attendee. To do that, I’ll go back to the attendee computer.
Automated Voice: Link HTTPS//workbridge.zoom.
Jonathan: There is my URL for the Zoom meeting. I will press enter and I have a different Zoom account on this machine. I’m logged in with my personal Zoom account, which is no longer licensed because I typically use my work one but it will do for this job. I will press enter.
Automated Voice: Blank. Launch meeting Zoom, launch meeting Zoom, loading complete. This site is trying to open Zoommeetings.dialogue. Cancel button.
Jonathan: This is the first time I’ve actually come in from a URL on this machine. It’s just confirming that it wants me to go ahead and launch Zoom.
Automated Voice: Always allow workbridge.zoom.us to open links of this type in the associated app checkbox not checked.
Jonathan: I will do that checked and tab-
Automated Voice: Open button.
Jonathan: – and we’ll open.
Automated Voice: Launch meeting Zoom. Connecting, connecting, seven unread messages. Video preview.
Jonathan: This is a new install of the Zoom client so it’s come up with the video preview window which I normally disable so we have some options here.
Automated Voice: Join with video button, join without video button. Virtual background button. Always show Video Preview dialog when joining a video meeting checkbox checked.
Jonathan: I don’t want this to pop up every time so I’ll uncheck the box.
Automated Voice: Not checked.
Jonathan: Now I can press tab again-
Automated Voice: Join with video button.
Jonathan: -and we’ll go into the meeting.
Automated Voice: Zoom. Zoom meetings. Jonathan [unintelligible 01:33:40]
Automated Voice: You are connected to computer audio.
Automated Voice: Zoom meeting. You’re in a meeting hosted by Jonathan Mosen with two participants. Your audio is unmuted your video is on. Unmute my audio with alt plus–
Jonathan: I have just pressed Alt a to mute my audio because as you can hear, I’m echoing back to myself. Now I’m getting the warning that I am muted. We’ll have it settle down. We have two participants in this meeting at the moment. As the host, I will go and have a look at that by pressing alt u.
Automated Voice: Expanded participants two. Jonathan Mosen, host, me. Computer audio muted, video on. Jonathan’s personal Zoom account computer audio muted. Video on.
Jonathan: All is good. We have two participants in this meeting, the host and the attendee. Now it is time for me as a meeting attendee to go back to that email where I got my instructions first about how to attend the Zoom meeting and then about how to get the accessible slides because I want this all good to go before the host starts to run their slideshow. I’ll Alt-Tab into Outlook.
Automated Voice: Zoom. Launch meeting Zoom. Personal Zoom meeting message HTML.
Jonathan: There’s Outlook and we’ll go down.
Automated Voice: I will be running a slideshow which will be fully accessible to you. To use this feature, once you are connected to Zoom meeting, please choose this link. Link HTTPS//scribeformeetings.com.
Jonathan: That’s the Scribe for Meetings URL. We’ll press enter.
Automated Voice: Opening new tab, loading page, launch meeting Zoom. Loading complete HTTPS.
Jonathan: This page has loaded and it is a very simple page. Essentially, there’s only one thing you need to worry about here and that is the–
Automated Voice: Start button.
Jonathan: Let’s go to the top of the page and read the text.
Automated Voice: Scribe for meetings. Test Scribe for Meetings. Welcome to Scribe for Meetings, please press the start button below when the Zoom meeting has started and you’re ready to start receiving accessible content. Please advise your meeting hosts that Scribe for Meetings will be attempting to join the Zoom meeting as a participant. Start button.
Jonathan: This is the key thing. When I press this start button, what should happen is that the Scribe for Meetings bot is going to join the meeting because that’s how it knows what’s going on with the slideshow. Let’s make it happen. We’ll activate the Start button.
Automated Voice: Start button. Scribe for meetings test Scribe for Meetings. Please wait, Scribe for Meetings is preparing to provide access to the content in this meeting.
Automated Voice: Scribe for meetings has joined the meeting.
Automated Voice: Scribe for meetings is connected to the Zoom meeting but there is currently no shared content.
Jonathan: A lot of things happen there so let’s review. When we press that start button, the Scribe for Meetings bot very quickly joined the Zoom meeting and observed that there was no content being shared at the moment. We got the announcement from the attendee and the host computer in fact, that the Scribe for Meetings bot had joined the meeting. We can verify this because we’re still in the list of participants.
Automated Voice: Jonathan Mosen, host me. Computer audio muted. Video on. Jonathan’s personal Zoom account, computer audio muted. Video on. Scribe for meetings, computer audio muted, no video connected.
Jonathan: This is connected with audio muted, and there’s no need for video, which means that it’s consuming a bit less bandwidth. The Scribe for Meetings bot is here. I’m now ready as the host to share my content. Of course, you can do this in a different order. If the host starts the meeting, say with a title slide, and that often happens. You go into a Zoom meeting, everybody’s getting together. The host starts their screen sharing and there’s a title slide on the screen that tells you who they are, what the title of the presentation is. Then the Scribe for Meetings will cope with that as well.
Now I’m going to start screen sharing. I’m going to, as the host, run my PowerPoint presentation. These are the slides that I’ve already uploaded to Scribe for Meetings. This is the Global Accessibility Awareness Day presentation that I did back in May of this year. I’m going to close the participant’s list.
Automated Voice: Collapsed. Participants panel now closed.
Jonathan: Now I’m going to run PowerPoint.
Automated Voice: Search box edit. PowerPoint app, press right to switch preview. Opening, opening PowerPoint. Please wait, dot, dot, dot.
Jonathan: I’ve just confirmed that I’m in PowerPoint now.
Computer2: Presentation one PowerPoint.
Jonathan: I’m in a blank presentation. I’m going to open my Global Accessibility Awareness Day presentation now so I’ll press Ctrl O.
Automated Voice: Open dialog file name, edit [unintelligible 01:38:15].
Jonathan: Remember we are doing host functions here. As the attendee, you wouldn’t have to worry about any of this.
Automated Voice: Explorer app.
Jonathan: We’ll go to
Automated Voice: Speeches and presentations.
Automated Voice: GAAD2021.PPTX.
Jonathan: That’s the one so I’ll press enter.
Automated Voice: Towards a non-disabling society slide one of nine no selection, no selection.
Jonathan: My presentation is now on the screen. Of course, I want to run this as a slideshow so I’m going to press f5 to bring the slideshow into view.
Automated Voice: Slide one towards a non-disabling society, grouped.
Jonathan: Now I can Alt-Tab back into the Zoom window.
Automated Voice: GAAD 2021 June meeting.
Jonathan: I am now ready to press alt S to begin the process of sharing my screen as the host.
Automated Voice: Select a window or an application that you want to share.
Jonathan: I’ll press tab.
Automated Voice: Basic double-checked selected.
Jonathan: That’ll be fine for this kind of sharing.
Automated Voice: Sharing options list box use arrow keys to select content to share. Press Ctrl plus shift plus space to select multiple windows list box screen, share your entire screen whiteboard, launch and share whiteboard, iPhone and iPad share your iPhone or iPad devices screen, scribe demo Reaper v 6.30 register to Jonathan Mosen.
Jonathan: I’m recording in Reaper, we don’t want to share that.
Automated Voice: Go to 2021.PPTX PowerPoint. PowerPoint slideshow GAAD2021.PPTX
Jonathan: It’s very important that you share the right window. In one window, we have the PowerPoint application where the slides are individually navigable and editable, but that’s not the window that we want to share. We want to share the slideshow. We need to make sure that we look for the window that has the word slideshow in the title. We found it now.
Automated Voice: PowerPoint Slideshow GAAD2021.pptx.
Jonathan: I will press Enter.
Automated Voice: Jonathan Mosen has started screen share.
Jonathan: When I started screen sharing, we got the notification that I had started the screen share from the zoom application that’s running on the attendee’s computer. Let’s see what’s happening on the scribe page at this point.
Automated Voice: Scribe for Meetings as connected to the zoom meeting, but there is currently no shared content.
Jonathan: At this point, it’s still telling me that there is no shared content. I’m going to go back into my PowerPoint slideshow by alt-tabbing.
Automated Voice: PowerPoint slideshow GAAD2, grouped object, grouped object.
Jonathan: There’s the title slide but I press the spacebar to go to the next one and we will see if the Scribe for Meetings bot kicks into gear.
Computer 3: Reading newspapers independently shopping at my place at my pace, making my own choices, banking with independence and dignity, the paperless office audio description of movies and TV download slides.
Jonathan: As soon as I changed slides, Scribe for Meetings kicked into gear, I have my browser window open now in the case of this other computer, I’m using Microsoft Edge and you heard the text of that first slide. I can confirm that by reading it back from the PowerPoint itself on the attendee computer.
Automated Voice: Grouped object, grouped object, the difference accessibility has made to me. Newspaper with solid fill shape, shopping card piggy bank documents video camera reading newspapers in-depth and dental smarter diagram way shopping at my place at my pace, pace-
Jonathan: You can hear quite a bit of information there including diagrammatic content, or go to the top of the screen on the attendee computer.
Computer 3: Scribe for Meetings tests Scribe for Meetings, suspend presentation alt plus s button. Read aloud alt plus r button. Link download slides. Heading level one the difference accessibility has made to me. Reading newspapers independently. Shopping at my place at my pace banking with–
Jonathan: In this case, there are some graphics, some descriptions that I can hear in my actual PowerPoint presentation that don’t seem to have come over to the scribe for meetings version but all the text is indeed there. If we unpack some of the things we’ve heard here, there is a read-aloud option and one of the reasons why I have come in with Microsoft Edge on the attendees computer is that this is particularly effective on Microsoft Edge because they have some fantastic voices now built into Edge for the Immersive Reader function and they are available to Scribe for Meetings for this application. If I go back to the top of the screen.
Computer 3: Scribe for Meetings presentation alt plus s button. Read aloud alt plus r button.
Jonathan: I can press alt-R for the read-aloud function.
Computer 3: Faster, slower voice down.
Computer 4: The different accessibility has made to me. Reading newspapers independently, shopping at my place at my pace, making my own choices, banking with independence and dignity. The paperless office, audio description of movies and TV.
Automated Voice: Download slides.
Jonathan: If you are into natural-sounding speech, that is just some of the best natural-sounding speech I’ve ever heard from Microsoft, they have done an amazing job with those voices. If we suspend the presentation, what happens then, we’ll go back up to the top.
Computer 3: Scribed for– Suspend presentation alt plus s button.
Jonathan: Great to see that there are pneumonics for all of these things. I’ll press alt-s. While there’s no verbal confirmation that anything has changed, you will find.
Computer 3: Go live alt plus L button.
Jonathan: That there is a go live button. What this means is that if somebody is scrolling through the presentation too fast for you, you can suspend the presentation so you are no longer in sync with the presentation’s speed and read it at your own pace. This is one of the core byproducts, I guess of having a separate copy of the presentation uploaded. I’m going to press alt L to go live again and now.
Computer 3: Suspend presentation.
Jonathan: It’s change to back to suspend presentation. After all that, I’m going to advance to the next slide as the host of the meeting. I’m the host now and I’m going to press the spacebar to go to the next slide.
Automated Voice: Has no narrator for voiceover for Mac OS, iOS, watch OS and TV OS talkback for Android voice view for kindle and fire TV. Screen readers. Bullet many blind people are good at touch typing bullet the issue is getting information out of the device not on to it output not an input bullet screen readers speak what’s on the screen and slash or send information to a Braille display bullet several third-party screen readers for Windows including the famous JAWS job access with speech.
Jonathan: This is being automatically read and there’s no extra verbiage. It’s just the slideshow contents that is being read by the browser and I can keep going through like this.
Automated Voice: Bullet double-tap the screen to perform an act.
Jonathan: I can press alt I of course.
Automated Voice: Read aloud.
Computer 4: Blind people and touchscreens. A white background with a blue background. Blind people used to associate touch screens with inaccessibility. Fears that blind people would be locked out of the smartphone future.
Jonathan: Now I just pressed ALT+S to stop reading aloud. In that case, it was interesting because it did give me a brief description there at the top. We’ll go back and look at this with jaws.
Computer 3: Scribe for– Suspend presentation.
Automated Voice: Previous slide. Read aloud alt plus r button, linked download slides. Heading level one blind people in touch screens. List of eight items. Bullet blind people use to associate touchscreen. Bullet fears.
Jonathan: In the case of reading it with the browser and jaws, it didn’t give me that image description that the read-aloud function gave me so that’s interesting. You do see a really nicely formatted bulleted list here and it tells you how many items are in the list. We can proceed with the slideshow and just continue to run it and you will find that it is all in sync. Absolutely cool to know that you have access to this PowerPoint presentation in this way and as we saw when we set this up as the host, if the host gives permission, you’re able to download these slides, keep them for as long as you need them, review them at your leisure.
Let’s take a look at the options in that regard. I’m just going to press insert with F7 to bring up the list of links.
Automated Voice: Links list dialog link.
Jonathan: And press D.
Automated Voice: Download slides one of one.
Jonathan: But there’s only one link on the page there, you go download slides are presented.
Automated Voice: Loading page blank main region email edit required invalid entry.
Jonathan: It looks like the download process does require a Scribe for Meetings account. I will enter my email just typing it in on the rather quiet Dell XPS 15 keyboard and press Tab.
Automated Voice: Email edit log in Scribe for Meetings various loading page. Alert please check your email for a link to verify your address. Once you’ve received your link, please activate it to continue. For now, you may close this page.
Jonathan: I feel sure that if I find my outlook.
Automated Voice: Zoom Zoom meet zoom inbox prime.
Jonathan: We’ll get to the bottom of the list.
Automated Voice: Scribe for Meetings please verify your email address.
Jonathan: It is very quick.
Computer 3: Hello Thank you for your interest in Scribe for Meetings please link activate this link to verify that thank you link x opening new tab loading page once you’ve received your link, please activate it to continue. For now, Daisie radio button not checked.
Jonathan: Now that I’m logged in, I have a series of radio buttons pertaining to the format that I want to download these slides in so that we’re at a common point. I’ll go to the top of the page.
Computer 3: Download slides Scribe for Meetings.
Jonathan: Now we’ll explore the radio buttons.
Computer 3: Web page radio button not checked. One of seven. ePub radio button not checked. Two of seven audio radio button not checked. Three of seven Microsoft Word radio button not checked. Four of seven PDF radio button not checked. Five of seven Braille radio button not checked. Six of seven Daisy radio button not checked. Seven of seven.
Jonathan: I feel pretty confident there’s a format here that you can work with and that you will prefer to use. I’m going to choose Microsoft Word.
Computer 3: PDF Microsoft Word radio button not checked. Main region Microsoft Word radio button check.
Jonathan: Let’s just explore this by down arrowing to make sure we haven’t missed anything.
Computer 3: Peed real easy customized repair download customized settings button collapsed.
Jonathan: Let’s be thorough and look at the Customize settings button, we’ll expand this.
Computer 3: Customize settings button collapsed expanded.
Jonathan: And down-arrow.
Computer 3: Large print checkbox not checked prepare download button.
Jonathan: There’s only one customization choice at the moment and that is to go for large print of that will help you to read the content and then we have.
Automated Voice: Prepare download button.
Jonathan: The prepare download button so I’ll press spacebar to activate that button.
Automated Voice: Loading page, prepare download button loading complete. Prepare download button Two regions and five links untitled Scribe for Meetings navigation region. Graphics Scribe for Meetings. List of five items meetings.
Jonathan: I’m going to navigate to the first heading on this page.
Automated Voice: No headings.
Jonathan: No there are no heading so we’ll go to non-linked content.
Automated Voice: Scribe for Meetings is preparing your download, you will receive an email when your download is ready. Feel free to close this page.
Jonathan: I would estimate, having paused the recording, that it took about 90 seconds for the email to come through.
Automated Voice: Inbox. Scribe for meetings, Scribe for Meetings test your slides are ready to download when seven slashes–
Jonathan: I’ll present it to open that email.
Automated Voice: Hello. The slides that you recently requested for the meeting Scribe for Meetings test are now ready to download. Click here to download your slides. Thank you for using Scribe for Meetings, the Pneuma Solutions team.
Jonathan: Well thank you I will up-arrow.
Automated Voice: Blank. Blank. Click here to download your slides.
Jonathan: Present it.
Automated Voice: Opening a new tab. Loading page. Scribe for Meetings is preparing your download. You will receive an email when your download is ready. Feel free to close this page. Loading complete blank. Tab bar tab. Tab Actions menu button menu downloading, .2021.docs 3.8 megabytes. Downloads completed.
Jonathan: A bit of extra verbiage there as the download dialog popped up but it has automatically downloaded. If I go to my downloads folder now by going into File Explorer-
Automated Voice: File Explorer.
Jonathan: – and press D-O for downloads, that should be enough to get me there.
Automated Voice: Downloads, items view list.
Jonathan: Let’s have a look.
Automated Voice: Not selected, .2021.docs 1 of 100.
Jonathan: Let’s open that word document.
Automated Voice: Opening word, .2021.docs word, .2021.docs .2021.docs.
Jonathan: We’ll just explore.
Automated Voice: Heading level one towards a non-disabling society Jonathan Mosen MNZM Page break. Blank. Heading level one the difference accessibility has made to me. Page break.
Jonathan: This is really cool because on each page, you have a separate slide. What that means is I can press insert with Z to go into the jaws navigation quick keys mode in word.
Automated Voice: Quick keys on.
Jonathan: If I press h.
Automated Voice: Heading one screen readers.
Jonathan: H again.
Automated Voice: Heading one blind people in touch screens.
Jonathan: I’m moving through the slides. I can also press the spacebar.
Automated Voice: A white background with a blue background image. Page Break level one bullet blind people use to associate touch screens within accessibility. Bullet fears that level zero heading level one a fair. Go Page Break. Level one bullet New Zealanders believe in a fair go for all. Bullet accessibility is karma.
Jonathan: Yes indeed. You can navigate by heading to get to the title of each slide. You can also navigate by page. It’s beautifully laid out so that you can navigate the presentation after the fact, or of course, you can download the slides as they are being presented. If you find it easier to have them open in your word processor, your PDF viewer, whatever you choose to use. I know there’s a lot more to come but that is what Scribe for Meetings looks like at the beginning of July 2021. You can find out more by visiting scribeformeetings.com. There are no dashes or anything like that, and there’s no number in it. It’s scribe F-O-R meetings.com.
Speaker 5: Mosen At Large Podcast.
Jonathan: Some comments on the term blind ghetto starting with Bruce Taves in Canada, who writes I personally find the term blind ghetto to be unnecessarily antagonistic, derogatory, and offensive. It’s just another one of those terms people use to describe something they don’t feel they need don’t like and/or don’t understand. All it serves to do is polarize and it flies in the face of the simple reality that different people want or need different things.
Each person has their reasons for making the technology choices they do and each person is entitled to that choice without the need to defend it, or feel like a lesser person because of that choice. The term and terms like it are, in my view, a cowardly attempt to gain the upper hand by diminishing the needs, preferences, or choices of others. We don’t need more polarization. We need to have our decisions respected and not judged by people who feel we are lesser people for using what we choose to use.
Derogatory and offensive terminology for the sake of an ego boost is not a way to get on people’s Christmas card list and I don’t have any time for it. The above opinions he says are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Mushroom FM, the province of Manitoba or Coca-Cola Co. Well, I’m glad you clarified that Bruce. Thank you. Rebecca Skipper writes, I find the term blind ghetto products very offensive. However, the concern I have over blindness products like system access, and any other proprietary solution is its ability to keep up with mainstream changes.
However, I equally worry about mainstream tech company’s ability and willingness to optimize accessibility. I do not use system access to go now because it doesn’t seem to work well with Chrome or Firefox and works with Internet Explorer.
To be fair, I have not tried this with Edge. I like how the founders of system access continue to innovate though. I like braille displays that have a simple notetaker ie the focus line of products, orbit reader, Brailliant, and Mantis. I still wish the focus fifth generation had word wrap in its editor. You and me both. Thank you very much, Rebecca.
This email is from Robert Kinget and he writes, I used to believe there was such a thing as blind ghetto, especially when talking about specialist adaptive technology manufacturers. I no longer believe there’s a blind ghetto.
One, I do believe that we should always strive for mainstream inclusive design. I also believe that some specialist manufacturers will develop a better user experience that mainstream developers won’t think of sometimes. I believe that we are disabled by society, and how it’s designed. If we really stop and think about it, jaws could be classified as a blind ghetto product.
It’s not worth entertaining the existence of a blind ghetto product, because we could contort almost any adaptive technology into a ghetto product, because society is so inexorably constructed. Thank you, Robert.
Christopher Wright in Texas says I’m not sure if I’d go as far as saying blindness products are ghetto but I have to agree that they’re very expensive, and don’t have the longevity of mainstream products. I understand the smaller market argument but when I consistently see products released with underpowered hardware at outrageous prices, I eventually conclude that it’s not worth supporting these companies.
Humanware is a good example of this. While I have to give credit to the BrailleNote mPower for sparking my interest in IT and computing in general, they have consistently demonstrated they’re behind the times and unwilling/unable to adapt efficiently without releasing yet another extremely expensive product that is still underpowered, and behind the times. We saw this with the BrailleNote Apex, touch, and touch Plus. The touch only lasted a couple of years, and there was no effort to upgrade it.
The touch plus is better but I haven’t heard any plans to get it off Android 8 to a more modern version. The story is the same with the victor reader stream and Trek. I thought both products were going to add lots of cool innovative features but software support stagnated for the stream in 2017. The Trek has mostly focused on GPS, even though it has significantly better hardware that could have handled some more advanced features I would have liked on the stream side.
Humanware came out with a survey earlier this year, but I closed it halfway through in disgust because it sounded like they were planning another hardware refresh. In short, I’m done purchasing products that are too overhyped, underpowered, and expensive. I expect a lot more out of something if I’m paying $5,000, for example, for a BrailleNote touch.
HIMS is also guilty of this. They came out with the Polaris that was never upgraded past Android 5, and they decided to release another device this year even though the prior model could have run Android 10.
The only thing I’ll give HIMS credit for is that they at least tried a little harder to make their products future-proof. Mainstream devices are far more affordable and last longer. The only assistive technology product I use regularly on my iPhone with its assortment of useful apps, my Windows computers with NVDA, and an old focus 40 Blu from 2009 I was able to get for $300. I’m tired of supporting these dedicated AT companies that do nothing but price gouge and underdeliver every single time.
I’m currently attempting to job hunt and maybe my experience might help or at the very least spark some interesting discussion. I believe in open communication and honesty. This is why I have no problem indicating on my application I’m blind and I attended the IT program at World Services for the Blind. If everyone else can be proud of who they are, then I am proud to be blind as well as of my accomplishments. I figure it’s better to be honest about blindness right away rather than going in and surprising everyone with this fact, which might make the situation worse.
I encourage everyone to contact me with any questions. Sadly, I believe the ADA is doing more harm than good. People are terrified of blindness and understandably don’t want to do or say anything that would result in being slammed with a lawsuit and/or ADA violation. The ironic thing is that I could literally spend all day every day coming up with ADA violations. I’ve discovered online job applications and job fairs are a colossal waste of time.
I either get no response at all or generic canned responses that sound like people trying to cover their own butts with lame excuses rather than engaging with me to work out solutions. I spent a lot of money attending the 2019 NFB convention, which turned out to be a giant, nothing burger. I attended several job fairs and either received offers in other states, jobs I wasn’t at all interested in, or people that seem to have something, but later told me they had nothing available when I contacted them.
I also found a few people were quite rude when I tried to tell my story about obtaining CompTia certification and what I was looking for in terms of a career. Later in 2019, I was given the opportunity to volunteer at a Goodwill computer store. Unfortunately, Goodwill doesn’t practice what they preach. I was there for about three months and I thought things were going well. I was primarily responsible for resetting donated computers and getting them ready for sale on the software side. I briefly tried fixing hardware, but realized this was only raising my blood pressure.
I learned what I was good at and what I wasn’t. I should have paid attention to the signs. The manager never really seemed interested in talking to me. At the end of November, I was told through indirect means to leave because I was a liability, cut down on their productivity, et cetera. It sounds like trying to cover themselves. I was going to ask about actual employment at the end of the month, too. So much for Goodwill being inclusive.
Maybe it was because I’m blind, the wrong color, or both who knows. Double standards aren’t cool. I’d appreciate other’s thoughts on this topic. I’m not entirely sure what to do anymore. I toyed with the idea of starting my own computer business, but I don’t have the patience or drive to be an entrepreneur. I can’t talk to anyone because they direct me to black holes, otherwise known as online job applications.
No one that’s tried helping me, including the joke that is Texas blindness rehab has any meaningful connections to anything. I have no interest in moving to another part of the country. When I live in the fourth largest city, what now I’m starting to think the only solution is to use a disability lawyer. I hate to do it, but if push comes to shove, what other choices do I have? Blind people can’t do most entry-level jobs.
I’ve found my niche is working with computers. All I need is someone to take me seriously instead of running away, because they can’t imagine being blind or worse, dealing with hypocrites that have been discriminated against themselves who turn around and do it to me when I’ve done nothing to them.
Well, thank you, Christopher. I have to say from your success of messages that you’ve sent in, you really do sound like you’ve got an enormous chip on your shoulder. If you’ve been discriminated against, then by all means, use the law. You don’t have to put up with discrimination. That’s what the law is for, discrimination on the grounds of disability is illegal. The reason we have that law is because it happens and it shouldn’t happen.
Blind people throughout generations have worked hard to ensure that there are mechanisms you can use to protect you from it happening or when it happens. I think it’s important to ask when people are around you, what is it that they experience?
Do they come away feeling that they are better for having had the experience of knowing you, of talking with you, or do they feel to be honest, like I do when I read some of your emails, that I’ve been deluged in a bath of self-pity and negativity?
There are people who have online personas. The way somebody comes across in an email or a tweet or a Facebook post can be very different from the way that they appear in person. All I know you through is these written communications. If you communicate in person and say the things you do in person that you say in your emails to this show, then I can’t help thinking you would be contributing to a toxic workplace.
You’ve been offered jobs in another space, but you’ve chosen not to take them. That is absolutely your choice to make. I have to say, if it were me, I would jump at the chance. I would go anywhere. If I had the chance to work, particularly when I’m in the situation that you are in. I just need some experience to chalk up on a CV. You’re young, you don’t have children to yank out of school or anything like that.
This is a chance for you to experience some adventure, to broaden your horizons, to meet new people, and yes, to get that all-important initial work on your CV. Only you can decide what limitations you want to impose upon yourself. You said that you don’t want to set up your own business, dealing with computers because you’re not entrepreneurial, but there was a time when you didn’t know anything about computers.
There was a time before you didn’t own your first computer, but you chose to make a change. You chose to take an interest and learn. If you wanted to work for yourself, there are plenty of courses available for the self-employment of disabled people that could provide you with funding and training, and assistance. Then you wouldn’t have to worry about the discrimination that you are talking about. If you have ruled yourself out of applying for any online job, then you’ve ruled yourself out of applying for probably about 95% of the jobs that are available today.
I think that’s a really concerning attitude to take. Now, the application process should be accessible. If you are denied applying because of an inaccessible website, you should take an ADA complaint about that. That’s what it’s there for, and you should be able to apply. One thing I can tell you with certainty, the one job you are sure not to get as the one that you don’t apply for. Why would you limit yourself being a job seeker and someone who’s disabled is really tough, but I know of lots of people who’ve applied for job numbers that go into the three and even four figures? They finally get the one that they want and they’re on the road and they never looked back.
If your goal is to be employed, then that becomes your full-time job in my view, and you have a schedule, you get up in the morning, you dress as if you’re going to work. You sit down and you do a whole bunch of job applications in the morning, yes, online. Then maybe in the afternoon, you look at the skills that perhaps you don’t have that might assist you to land that job, whether it be training in certain computer software, or perhaps even dare I say it, a Dale Carnegie course, and it requires maybe some honest assessment. It could require a good quality job coach looking at where you are now, where you want to be, and what are the skills that you need, soft skills and otherwise to get you there.
I wish you luck. I would encourage you to think about attitude because attitude is everything. Also, being willing to go on an adventure and exploring all that the great United States have to offer.
Jonathan: I love to hear from you. If you have any comments you want to contribute to the show, drop me an email written down or with an audio attachment to Jonathan J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com. If you’d rather call in, use the listener line number in the United States, 84606-6736.
[02:07:50] [END OF AUDIO]