Podcast Transcript: Mosen At Large episode 147, September 11 memories, Apples big reveal, advice on starting a business and more
This transcript is made possible thanks to funding from InternetNZ. You can read the full transcript below, download the transcript in Microsoft Word format, or download the transcript as an accessible PDF file.
Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen. This is Mosen at Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. Today, memories of the 11th of September, 2001, Apple’s about to announce new hardware, several questions on starting a new business, and a sighted person who couldn’t possibly let a blind man buy them coffee.
Speaker 2: [sings] Mosen at Large Podcast.
Jonathan: Thank you for joining me once again for this episode, which is 147. I appreciate your company and also those of you who take time to send in contributions to the podcast. That’s what really makes it so interesting. If you want to be in touch, the email address, Jonathan, J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com. You can attach an audio clip to your email if you prefer, record it on your PC or your smartphone. If it’s long, you can attach a link to a file and cloud storage such as Dropbox if that makes it easier to get the file to me. Always good to hear a range of perspectives. You can also just write your email down if you prefer to do that as well.
Now a heads up, as they like to say in America, that coming up we’ve got Apple’s big reveal and we expect to see the new iPhone 13. All the branding seems to indicate that that is what it’s going to be called this year. We’ve got new AirPods expected as well, the third generation of those, and also the Apple Watch Series 7. Although we are hearing that there are some supply issues with the Apple Watch Series 7, so that may be pretty sparse at launch. If you want to grab yourself a new Apple Watch, which is going to be ever so slightly larger, and therefore apparently there’ll be new watch faces that are specific to the Apple Watch Series 7.
Not too much known to be honest about what is going to be in the iPhone 13 apart from the usual suspects, a better camera, probably better battery life, and it will be powered by the latest generation of the Apple chips, so it’s going to be faster. It’s going to be so much faster than the last one. It’s going to be their best iPhone ever. There is talk of some satellite technology available in some markets, but Bloomberg is pegging back people’s expectations. I had talked about this on a previous podcast, but you may well in certain areas be able to make emergency texts or calls in situations where your life may literally depend on it.
We don’t really know much more about whether there’s going to be some big outstanding feature. If we get something, if what we see in the iPhone 13 is a big surprise, then that will be a victory for Apple because they have had big problems with leaks in their supply chain of late. They kind of say, “Look, don’t do this because it spoils the surprise.” If there is something that Apple surprises us with, that will be very pleasant, I’m sure.
Whatever happens, we will be here to recap it in a special edition of Mosen at Large. This will be mid-week, this will be episode 148. It’ll go out right after the keynote address. That will be on Tuesday the 14th of September US time, Wednesday morning New Zealand’s time. It is very humbling that since all the way back in the blind side days some years ago, people have looked to this particular podcast as their definitive source of guidance from a blindness perspective, of interpretation from a blindness perspective on what Apple has announced. We know that thousands of people wait for this and hit the refresh button for it to come out, so we will be doing it once again.
We’ve got what’s become our usual expert lineup. Heidi Taylor, the artist formerly known as Heidi Mosen, will be here to give us some visuals and tell us what went on that we may have missed out on, describe things, look things up as we record. Also, we’ll have Judy Dickson and Michael Feir, both of whom know their stuff when it comes to Apple things. I’ll be here as well asking some questions and making some comments as well.
We will be delighted to take your feedback on whether what Apple has offered has convinced you sufficiently to part with your hard-earned money for any of these products. You can get your comments in once the keynote is done, and we will play a selection of them, of course, on next week’s show. Very much looking forward to hearing what you think about what Apple has to say.
“Hi, Jonathan,” says Ali. “Once upon a time in the dim and distant past when the phone choice for blind people was either the iPhone or the iPhone, I used to always look forward to Apple events, especially the events announcing new iPhones and iOS updates, how times do change. Nowadays, I couldn’t care less about Apple events. For the last few years, new iPhones have brought virtually nothing since us blind people aren’t interested in camera and screen improvements.
To be fair to Apple though, the iPhone in essentials is pretty solid, and I don’t think there’s much I am really crying out for, but I just find Apple boring. Its nepotism is starting to irk me more and more these days. I think my irritation with Apple has increased since the recent TalkBack update. At last, with TalkBack now supporting multitouch gestures, VoiceOver finally has a realistic competitor.
From what I’ve heard and read, it seems as though blind people who don’t use Braille with a lowercase B on their phones can now switch to Android without making compromises or being left in the lurch. I have always had in the back of my mind the idea that when TalkBack caught up with VoiceOver, I would drop iOS like a hot potato and to make the switch to Android. Well, I think the time has come.
My resolution has only increased after talking to an extremely helpful member of the Google Disability Support team who was able to reassure me about the learning curve involved. I’m still not certain if you can split tap with TalkBack, but for me, that’s not a biggie since I would use Braille screen input or whatever the TalkBack equivalent is called. Also, with Android integration of some kind coming to Windows 11, the switch just feels right.
Were it not for the fact that my credit card bill was frightening last month, I would have already switched, but just thinking about switching makes me feel mentally liberated; no more iTunes, how amazing will it be to be able to just copy and paste music and books straight onto the phone? How amazing would it be to have Eloquence on the phone? You were asking for Eloquence on iOS, Jonathan? Well, I can do you one better. Come on board with the other bus, it’s only heading upwards. Who needs Apple when you’ve got Microsoft and Google, certainly not me.”
Well, thank you for that email, Ali. Before I get bombarded with people, let me pick you up on one extraordinary comment that you make that blind people aren’t interested in the camera. I can tell you this blind guy is very interested in the camera and camera improvements, probably the big reason why I did in the end decide to purchase the iPhone 12 Pro Max I have is because of LiDAR, which was a big camera improvement. I do use the camera an awful lot.
When we’re in a home where we’ve got two blind people living, we are using all sorts of apps that make use of the camera. When that camera is more tolerant of field of view, more tolerant of lighting conditions, it makes a massive tangible difference to our lives. We also use Aira. When there’s improvement to the camera there, that can also make a difference in terms of what an agent sees without you having to mess about too much. The camera improvements are a big deal for blind people. Let’s not also forget that many of us choose to use social media, many of us take videos of big events.
The way that Apple is giving you feedback in those environments just keeps improving. Things like the recognition of images, the mode that they have now to make inaccessible apps often quite accessible really is a game-changer. Things keep changing in VoiceOver in my view for the better with every release of iOS. One of the best devices I have bought in a very long time is my APH Mantis, I use it all the time with my iPhone at the moment. If I were to switch to Android, I wouldn’t be able to use it; I would completely lose support for that device.
Now, I am fortunate in that I do have the Focus 40 Blue Braille Display that I used before, but even then the quality of Braille input on Android is just bizarre. They don’t follow conventions that have been adhered to for almost 40 years in the Braille display industry, and there’s really no good reason for them not doing so. I couldn’t agree with you more about the joy of being rid of iTunes and all of the adgie badgie that you have to go to just to get stuff onto your phone.
I have dealt with that to some degree with the WALTR 2 app that I’ve talked about on Mosen at Large before. That is spelled W-A-L-T-R and then the number 2, and that allows you to use file explorer type of techniques to copy music, ringtones, videos directly onto your phone bypassing iTunes completely, and then they end up in the right place. It is still too walled gardened for my taste. I completely understand what you’re saying there.
Another thing I would add, which is unique to those of us who wear hearing aids of course, is that the made for iPhone hearing aid standard is pretty robust these days. It did have a rocky start, but on newer phones that are compatible with made for iPhone hearing aids, it’s quite a good experience. That would also be a consideration for me. I think the good news, and I think your email illustrates this, is that we are getting to the point now where blind people can have the same conversation about choice, about pros and cons, about when you add these things up, which of them is more important to me that sighted people have been able to have for years.
In that sense, it really is terrific news that for certain people’s use cases, Android has increasingly become more viable. I don’t see myself using it for the specific reasons I’ve outlined, but I celebrate the fact that some people feel like they can now switch and not lose anything that’s important to them. I have no doubt that in Apple’s ideal world, they would’ve liked us to be focusing on what’s coming up with their new devices right across the weekend, building up the anticipation.
For many Apple watchers, that is not what’s happening. What’s happening is that we are focusing on the judge’s decision in the Epic Games versus Apple lawsuit, but never mind Apple PR people, because when you think about it, if the judge had released the decision say on the Tuesday or the Wednesday, when Apple really does turn up the volume on what has been announced, that might have been worse. It may be that this is a flash in the pan because people will have moved on once Apple has new product to talk about on Tuesday. This has been a long-running court case. We’ve been waiting about three months I think it is now for the decision from the judge.
For those of us who monitor tech news and Apple news, in particular, the amount of ticktock as it were that came from this case, the internal correspondence, hearing about the internal workings of Apple was absolutely riveting. Every day I was glued to the reportage of this case. The judge has now ruled in this case and what she has said is that in three months, Apple will no longer be permitted to prevent an app developer from providing third-party sources of payment and to prevent an app developer from contacting a customer in a non-Apple endorsed way if that relationship already exists between the customer and the app developer.
This is a bit of a victory for Epic Games and other third-party app developers. Spotify is also happy about this, and they’ve published a statement saying that this is good news. It looks like Apple was anticipating that this could be an outcome of the Epic Games suit because in response to another lawsuit that Apple settled with developers just a couple of weeks ago, they did concede this point to some extent. For certain types of apps, not including games, they have said, “Yes, you can now link to third-party payment methods and establish that relationship,” so Apple’s partially gone there already.
The big news with this though is that it includes all apps now and that includes the lucrative game market. It probably won’t be a big sacrifice for Apple to make this concession when you consider what else was at stake, because what else was at stake has been protected in this decision. The judge has said that Apple is not behaving in a way that is monopolistic or consistent with antitrust practices. Probably the most famous line that will stay from this decision is, “Success is not illegal.” She’s saying that Apple does have competition. Android is obviously a very strong competitor.
She is not going to require sideloading of apps. She is not going to require the ability for alternative app stores to be created so that you can choose where you purchase your apps from, just as you can choose where you purchase most things from. If you want to buy a computer, you could go to any number of stores. If you want to buy groceries, you can go to any number of supermarkets.
Really, fundamentally, if you generally want to buy apps, there’s only one place you can go for your iPhone. You can install certificates and things for certain types of business applications, but it’s fiddly and it’s not something that many people do. In that sense, Epic Games has lost big time. Epic Games is going to appeal this. They say it’s an unfortunate decision. I think we are going to see this one go on and on.
I think fundamentally, Spotify’s on the money here when you look at what they have said in the statement that they put out, which is that really the solution lies with antitrust legislation. People like Amy Klobuchar in the United States are working on antitrust legislation that would allow alternative app stores and would break Apple’s stranglehold on where you get your apps from. This is far from over.
If you have the time and if you really are interested in this stuff, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ full decision is worth reading. It’s about 185 pages. At this point, I’m only skimming it because I’ve got a podcast to put together, but it is very interesting. You can also read more about Peely the banana as well. A very interesting lawsuit and as I say, probably good that Apple’s getting this out of the way the weekend before they want us to be thinking about new hardware from Apple.
Speaker 2: [sings] Mosen at Large Podcast.
Jonathan: While we’re on the subject of technology, let’s take a look at a few of the things that we’ve been tweeting about on the Mosen At Large Twitter account this week. You can follow @MosenAtLarge on Twitter, that’s all joined together, @MosenAtLarge. I try to tweet a good dollop of tech news every week to keep you apprised of what’s going on. A couple of Sonos-related stories this week. Sonos has raised prices for the majority of its products amidst supply chain crunches.
If you want to get a Sonos product, hopefully, you’re listening to this podcast early because the price changes go into effect in a day or so. It’s as much as $100 US for the Sonos Arc and about $10 for some of their smaller speakers. If you’ve been considering picking up a Sonos thing, then do it right now if you can, and you’ll save yourself a little bit of money in the process.
Competing with Sonos is a new soundbar from Bose. It uses their multi-room sound technology. Many people love the Bose sound. One thing I have found though with the Bose speakers is that the app is far less accessible, at least on iOS, than the Sonos app is. I don’t know if that has improved in the last year or so, but certainly, when I looked about a year ago, the app was not in the best of shape in iOS. If you like the Bose sound, then they do have a new soundbar out there now.
If you are using Bose speakers, their multi-room speakers, how’s it working out for you? Let us know, maybe things have improved since I last looked, because this is one of the dangers, isn’t it? That people make a blanket statement, “This thing is not accessible,” and then you find out that they tried it 12 months ago, which is a long time in technology. I’m hoping that things have improved.
One of our most popular episodes on Mosen At Large was the review of the Amazon Fire TV Stick that I published in December of last year. We still get a lot of people who are listening to that. Now Amazon have come out with a Fire TV Stick 4k Max. Yes, it’s the big Max at the end that makes a difference. It’s supposed to be 47% faster, it’s got Wi-Fi 6 support, and a whole bunch of other new bells and whistles.
I don’t know if any VoiceView changes have been made, but as you heard from that review, it’s a pretty compelling product as it is. My one criticism of the Fire TV Stick was just how slow it was. It looks like this product could take care of that, the 4k Max, so I may well grab this because it’s a great experience with the Alexa, with– Oh, I do apologize, with the soup drinker support and all that kind of stuff. It’s a great way to navigate all the TV services.
If a standalone TV is your thing, then Amazon has also come out with a series of TVs. They’re making their own TVs now. They used to, and presumably still will, collaborate with a range of third-party manufacturers to include the Fire TV technology in their sets. Now you can get these Fire TV Omnis and another range as well that have the Amazon technology built right in, and it’s a product made by them.
I understand there may be some pre-order specials available. These products will not be available universally because TV is actually quite different around the world in terms of how it’s transmitted, the digital TV standards that are used. I don’t imagine that they will be available in all markets, but certainly, in the US, these devices are a thing, they are a reality, and you can pre-order them now.
Twitter are making some big changes to their offerings. Of course, Twitter Spaces is percolating away. I must say, Twitter Spaces are looking very good. Increasingly competitive with Clubhouse, better than Clubhouse in many respects, including the rollout of Ticketed Spaces, the ability to do transcripts or captions so that deaf people can participate in them as well; that’s really important. Spaces are looking very good, and there’s better integration of them now in the native Twitter app.
There are some other changes coming as well, Twitter is experimenting at the moment with emoji-type reactions, very similar to what you get on Facebook. Now instead of just liking a tweet, some people, some privileged handful of people can do things like smiley emojis and frown emojis and essentially react rather than just like. That’s being tested. Also, Twitter is testing the idea of little communities, and again, this is targeting the Facebook-type market where Facebook Groups are a thing.
In Twitter, you will be able to set up little groups of people to engage with. That would change Twitter considerably, and this has been tested by a handful of people at the moment. Some of these things may never see the light of day, some of them will become big features in Twitter, and of course, this begs the question, how long will some of us hang on to the third-party apps for? I’m still a diehard Twitterrific user. It is predominantly the way that I engage with Twitter on any platform.
I really like Twitterrific, but I do have the official Twitter app on my phone for push notifications and spaces and a few things that Twitterrific can’t provide. Increasingly, that number of things that Twitterrific can’t provide is, unfortunately, starting to add up. The big reason why I continue to use Twitterrific is that I want to be able to read tweets in the order that they came in. When I run Twitterrific, I can return to my place where I was reading tweets before and start working my way up in chronological order. There just appears to be no way to do that in the official Twitter app. For me, that is a really significant deal.
If you’re at home still with a lockdown or you want a cool gadget for the office, you might want to take a look at a new thing called the Logitech Logi Dock. It’s L-O-G-I and then a space and Dock. It’s got lots of ports in it so that you can plug your devices in, USB ports, that kind of thing. It’s designed to be a dock for your laptop, but it’s also got a pretty impressive, so they say, Logitech speaker and microphone array in it so that it gives you good quality audio when you are having your Zoom or Teams or Google Meet or whatever meeting. Those are some of the things in tech that have caught my attention this week.
Speaker 2: [sings] Jonathan Mosen, Mosen at Large Podcast.
Jonathan: A couple of things from the “Where in the world is Jonathan Mosen department”, I am really pleased to be able to tell you that I’ve been invited to give the banquet speech at the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind convention, and that is coming up next week. It’ll be US time on Saturday, the 18th of September at about 7:30 PM I believe it is. If you’ve registered for the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, I hope I won’t put you to sleep in the keynote address that I will be delivering there at the banquet.
You can also listen to it I understand, the ACB media streaming system will be making the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind convention available, including the banquet address. Really looking forward to doing that. The theme for the convention is “Strengthening our community through unity”. I will do my best to weave some thoughts in my banquet address around that theme, and that’ll be coming up next weekend as we publish this podcast.
Also, I am soon going to be joining Robin Christopherson. Watch out world, Robin and his AbilityNet capacity and me and my capacity as CEO of Workbridge but also someone who’s worked in the assistive technology industry for a while. I’m going to be on their Accessibility Insights webinar. That’ll be coming up in October, but you can register now. If you would like to do that, you can go to abilitynet.org.uk, AbilityNet is one word. Abilitynet.org.uk, you’ll find a link there for webinars. Then if you go to that page and search on my name, you will find the webinar that Robin and I will be doing in October.
Speaker 2: Be the first to know what’s coming in the next episode of Mosen at Large, opt into the Mosen media list and receive a brief email on what’s coming so you can get your contribution in ahead of the show. You can stop receiving emails anytime. To join, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s media dash subscribe at M-O-S-E-N.org. Stay in the know with Mosen at Large.
Jonathan: Many of us are feeling reflective today because it’s the 12th of September in New Zealand as this podcast is published, it’s the 11th of September in the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and also of course the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania. Way back in episode two of this podcast, we had a discussion about flashbulb memories or moments, and these are things that have become so ingrained in your memory. They had such an impact that when you recall them, you can recall them in vivid detail, you know exactly what you were doing, where you were when something happened.
For many people talking about these flashbulb memories, there’s the Kennedy assassination. If you were around, then there’s John Lennon’s assassination. There are a number of moments, Princess Diana’s death would be one. I think for almost everybody, 9/11 is one of those memories, whether you were in the thick of it or whether you were on the other side of the world as I was.
As someone who was on the other side of the world, the first thing I want to say is that I know there will be some people listening who lost people who were special to them in this terrorist attack, and so I want to express my condolences to you. For many people, it was a difficult event, it changed a lot of things, but it didn’t affect us personally in the same way that it did if you lost someone who was special to you. I can only imagine what a difficult thing it is when these anniversaries roll around of such a public event. You are in my thoughts.
My memories of this atrocity actually go back to the previous Saturday, I was the president of Blind Citizens New Zealand at that time, and I was running ACB Radio from Wanganui, and the Blind Citizens New Zealand meetings were in Wellington. That’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive on a good day by car, and I had a driver who would take me there. We would talk about all sorts of things. He was quite interested in politics and a range of subjects, and it came up that I had read a story, I’m pretty sure that it was in UPI, about Osama bin Laden, and how UPI was reporting that he had assumed a fairly senior role in the Taliban government, I believe it was foreign minister or something like that.
I remember saying to him, “This does not bode well, there’s something pretty unfortunate that’s going to happen as a result of this,” and we moved on to other subjects. The reason why this is so relevant is that on the 12th of September, as it was New Zealand time, I got woken up by a phone call from that person who was my driver because when that first plane struck the first tower, it was just ahead of 1:00 in the morning New Zealand time.
I got the phone call and he said to me, “Looks like you were right about bin Laden, it’s a terrible thing,” and I said, “What are you talking about?” very sleepily. By the time he had called me, he said, “Two planes have flown into the World Trade Center and the towers are both down, and a plane has flown into the Pentagon, and there was another plane that’s down.” I could not comprehend it.
At first, I thought he was playing some sort of sick joke and something on my face must have said that because Amanda asked me what the matter was. I said, “I’m not even going to repeat what he’s just told me on the phone until I turn on the television because I just don’t believe it.” I turned on the television, and there it was in all its brutality, all its horror, playing out on CNN International, which we had access to back in 2001.
For me, one of the most difficult things about that day was that in 2000, in February of 2000, Amanda and I along with Heidi and Richard were in New York and doing the typical tourist thing, we went all the way up to the top of the viewing deck of the World Trade Center. We stood there and, those who could, admired the view, and we took the obligatory photographs, and we would often talk about that to people. We get people over and show them the photographs of your time away.
Heidi had seen pictures of her on the viewing deck of the World Trade Center and other pictures that we took of that building many times, and we were watching the coverage. Heidi would have been five, not quite, five and a half at this stage. She came up to me and she said, “Daddy, why did they take that building away?” What do you say to a five-and-a-half-year-old child about the inhumanity of our species, the brutality of our species? All I could really say was that it was done by some very bad people, some very evil people. You can’t sugarcoat it, but you don’t want to frighten them either. That was all I could think of to say.
I was directing ACB Radio at the time of 9/11 and I knew one person who worked in the financial districts. There were people who volunteered for ACB Radio who were grounded because, as you may remember, all flights were grounded for quite some time, so if you happen to be on your way somewhere, they landed at the nearest airport and that is where you were.
I was endeavoring to contact people and to make sure that they were okay to have them report in. It was just such a relief to finally make contact because it wasn’t easy to make contact. A lot of circuits were busy, communications were sporadic, were difficult. That was my first priority was to see how everybody was who might be directly in harm’s way or in some way affected.
The final thing that I remember about that time was that in addition to the ACB Radio work that I was doing, I was also doing technology consultancy work, and I had some contractual work with the blindness organization here in New Zealand where I would give technology instruction to individuals. I left Wanganui on the afternoon of the 12th of September. At that stage, nothing had really changed in New Zealand, planes were continuing to fly. We did not at this time have any security checkpoints on any domestic flights.
Even the larger planes that would fly the big routes in New Zealand, context anyway, from Auckland to Wellington, there were no security checkpoints at all. You could wander in, if you didn’t have any baggage to check-in, you could wander in pretty late and go to your gate and get on your plane and there was no screening whatsoever. That was the New Zealand way of life because, at the time, we thought of terrorism as something that happened in other countries. We’ve clearly been disabused of that well and truly since then.
When I went to Dunedin on September the 12th New Zealand time, that was the status quo, and they hadn’t made any changes at that point. It was very smooth. I remember spending a couple of days with clients in Dunedin watching the coverage as much as I could as well. I must admit, I was probably overly obsessed with the coverage, I tend to do that with major news stories, and it’s not necessarily particularly healthy to immerse yourself in a tragedy in that way.
I was watching a lot of the coverage, but then I believe it was two days later on the 14th of September that I came home from that work and the airports had been transformed and they’ve never gone back. Now we do have those domestic check-in points that you have to go through when you’re catching a plane, we still have some that you don’t, really little puddle jumper-type planes, but generally, you do go through domestic screening now in New Zealand and you never used to.
When I visited the United States for the first time post 9/11, I was really struck by how different it all was as well. You would always go through domestic screening at US airports, but it was a completely different mindset, nobody was casual about it now. I remember it all like it was yesterday. The one thing I will never forget until the day I die is that question, “Daddy, why did they take that building away?”
Speaker 2: [sings] Mosen at Large Podcast.
Jonathan: We have a number of 9/11 memories to share today, and we’ll start with Bonnie Mosen who was very close to things on 9/11. Where were you Bonnie on the morning of 9/11?
Bonnie: I was living in Morristown, New Jersey which is about 30 miles, I guess, outside Manhattan. The thing I always remember is what a beautiful morning it was, it was a clear blue September morning.
Jonathan: So many people say that, that it was unusually calm. Some people said it was almost eerily calm.
Bonnie: When you think about how life can change so drastically in just a few minutes, you come back to that. There was a saying that went around after that, “This is so September 12th,” the day after. I walked to where we were picked up to go to work. I was working at Seeing Eye, it was about a mile from my apartment building, maybe less than a mile from my apartment building, so I just walked there, you know the things you do. You see the people you sometimes see walking the kids to school. I don’t think I stopped for coffee that morning, I don’t remember.
Then I got to work. It was an election day in New York City that day, so the polls were open at 7:00 AM. When I got to my office, I turned on WABC to listen to– got my coffee and booted the computer up, all the things you do, check email. I turned on WABC because they were having coverage of the election. I don’t even remember– I think it was mayoral. I don’t even remember what the election was. I know it was big, but I have no memory of what the election was.
Just listening to them, and they said, “Oh, a plane has just hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center.” I’m like, “Okay, it’s a tall building, Cessna, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.” They thought it was Cessna, so they were talking about it and then another one hit a few minutes later. They’re like, “No, this is not– something’s wrong. Something’s really wrong here.” Not long after that, a couple of our trainers had gone into New York that morning to train dogs and they got to the Holland Tunnel and they heard about it on the radio.
Then the second trainer actually saw the second plane hit, and they’re like, “We’re not going, no. We don’t know what’s going on. We’re not going in that tunnel,” so they came back. Then of course we started to get calls, and I remember calling my mom after the first plane hit, I think, and telling her, “We don’t know what’s going on. We’re under attack. Something’s not right. This is not just your random air traffic control mishap, something’s wrong.”
Then a little while later, I called her back and I said, “The towers are gone,” because they went that quickly. Then just spending the rest of the day calling people because I did have friends and acquaintances, friends with family members who worked in the city who worked on– and on the lower east side and just calling them to make sure that they had heard from them. A lot of times it was taking hours.
Thankfully for me, none of my friends died or were injured but just having to live with that. There were other people that I knew that were not so fortunate, to have had family members who were killed in the towers or on the planes and in the Pentagon. Our cell service was down, and I don’t think a lot of people really realized how crippled we were on the East Coast that a lot of the cell towers were on top of the World Trade Center, a lot of the radio towers, television towers.
There was a lot of radio station, TV stations that had gone offline. Cell service was just almost non-existent. It was a very surreal experience just in and just hearing the fact that not only had there been the twin towers but the Pentagon and Pennsylvania and just the whole thing was just like a nightmare that kept going. It was pretty surreal for weeks afterwards. I knew someone whose husband worked on the recovery, was an ironworker who worked on the recovery effort. Just some of the things, some of the stories that you heard from people who made it out or who knew people who didn’t make it out.
I think one of the things that has always stuck with me is I remember talking to our super in my apartment building and was telling about some people who’d been in one of the towers and when the first tower was hit, everyone– the people who could got out. The second tower, they said, “Oh, you can just stay. They were going down the stairs and they’re like, “No, we’re not staying, we’re getting out of here.”
Then in the other tower, there were some people that I guess lived in my building and he was telling me that they were going down trying to get out while all these firefighters and policemen from NYPD and FDNY were going up, these were people who did not get out. These are the first responders who ran in there trying to save people and we’re going up the stairs as these other people were going down and just encouraging them to get out. I’ve always thought, “Gosh, the courage that it must’ve taken to do that,” to go in when you knew pretty much you were on a suicide mission.
You heard so many stories, just like, “Would I have the courage to do that? Would I have the courage to stay with someone?” Because there were people who didn’t leave their co-workers or friends who couldn’t get out that were not able– they would stay with them. You ask yourself a lot of questions, “Would I have been able to have that courage?” and just the courage that it took those first responders. Because we lost a lot of firefighters and policemen that day. Just having our mayor, at the time was Giuliani, coming on and talking about how many people we’d actually lost.
I think the silence of having no planes over, except fighter jets, and it was– because no one knew what was going to happen next. Did they have nuclear devices? Was there biological? No one knew. There were so many different rumors that were going around that were– we heard that there was like shooting on the interstate, which I don’t think there was, but it was just no one knew what was going on. It was just everyone was really shell-shocked.
Jonathan: After the first plane hit, did work grind to a halt at your office? Were people gathered around listening to the coverage? When did it come to the point that really normal activities just stopped for the day?
Bonnie: Our phone was literally ringing off the hook. People trying to get in touch with people, just wanting to have that connection, just talk to someone. A lot of people were gathered around the TV to the point when I said, “People got to go back to their office because families are trying to get a hold of people and people are calling and I can’t field all these calls,” because I was working in the training department, answering the phone and doing the boards at that time.
Our switchboard was, as you can imagine– was chaotic because you have a lot of graduates too. They were calling to make sure that nobody was in New York that day. It was crazy. We didn’t go home, a lot of places did close, but we worked a full day that day.
Jonathan: Could you smell the acrid stench that people talk about from where you were over the next few weeks?
Bonnie: I don’t remember were smelling that. I had friends that lived in Jersey City and Hoboken and it was really bad there. We could see from parts of Morristown, you could see the smoke, from some of the hills, but I don’t remember smelling it, I think we were too far out, but I know the people along the river and Hoboken and Jersey and places like that could.
I remember one thing that was really poignant was we always went out to breakfast every Saturday at this place called the Filling Station, we usually went there. We were there I guess a week or so later and there was a family in there and they’re eating and when they were leaving, they said, “Well, I guess we need to go get daddy’s car from the train station,” because a lot of people would park at the train station and take the train in New York. One of the person says that they lost their dad and it was just, “So we got to go pick up daddy’s car.”
Jonathan: One of the things that people often talk about in a major crisis like this is how it brings people together, and for a brief– all too brief moment.
Bonnie: [chuckles] Yes, it does.
Jonathan: All too brief moment people realize that the things that we argue about and that we think are significant differences are actually not that different. There’s more that unites us. Did you feel that sense? People putting American flags in the window, just asking after each other in a way that was different from normal?
Bonnie: Yes, they did. It was funny because I lived in New Jersey, it’s New Jersey. I love New Jersey, but it’s New Jersey. You’d cross the street, people would cut you off, that sort of thing. I noticed that people would stop their car, get out, and help me across the street. That lasted about a week or so. I think people were very on edge, very on edge. I remember, crossing a street and there was this lady crossing on the other side and a car backfired and she goes, “Lord, have mercy,” and she just started running. I said, “It’s okay.” She goes, “I know, but I just– every noise.” A lot of people were very on edge. Then, of course, not long after that, we had that whole anthrax scare.
I think especially because of where we were, whether they weren’t personally touched by it in terms of losing a family member or friend, I think everybody knew someone who was. It was that close that you knew someone who had been affected. I remember we went to some vigil on the green and there was a choir group or what– I don’t remember what they were, but they sang, I don’t know why Forever Autumn by-
Jonathan: Justin Hayward,
Bonnie: Justin Hayward. For years, I couldn’t listen to that song because it was just the agony and singing that song. It’s just, “Oh,” really and they had bagpipes and stuff. It was really, really poignant. I think the first time I flew back into New York after 9/11, it was probably a couple months later, there was just silence because was such a part of the skyline, it was gone. Just people looking out from the plane windows and there’s dead silence, people seeing it.
Then months later, we were on a PR thing, we were recreating the crossing of West Street, which was by Morris Frank, the founder of The Seeing Eye. I can’t even remember how long after 9/11 it was, but there were reporters and stuff down on the Lower East Side. It was still a construction zone, a major construction just with hearing all the equipment and stuff. It still had that kind of weird smell down there.
Maria: Hey, Jonathan, it’s Maria in Albany, New York. I wanted to share some reflections on 9/11 and also what intrigues me about the possibilities for Tuesday’s Apple event. On 9/11, I was 12 and I was living about two hours or so north of New York City. Not directly there, but close enough that I knew some people who commuted and such to the city for work and the like, and so who could have been potentially affected.
It’s amazing what you are saying in your synopsis for the show about people just remembering in vivid detail. I remember so clearly, I was with my braillist in the lobby of my school and I remember this lady’s voice so distinctly saying that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and just the shock, the, “Oh my God,” that my braillist responded with. I registered the words, but I don’t quite think I registered the magnitude. Certainly, there was confusion in the beginning.
I remember the person who had said, one of the other students, later on, I think it was like in the cafeteria or something for lunch because it wasn’t like the instant access to information like we have now. People were still saying, “Oh, it was this single-engine plane,” and, “Perhaps it was an accident,” and people didn’t really know what was going on. I remember one of my brother’s classmates, his father was a pilot for Delta, so I do remember his distress at the possibility that it could have been his dad’s plane. I can’t imagine what he was going through.
My brother had told me as well during the day our mutual Spanish teacher who my brother had had his upper level– being a couple of years older than me, he had had his class earlier in the morning and the teacher had just said, “A terrible thing has happened. Planes have hit the World Trade Center and it’s a terrible thing. We’re going to continue with Spanish.”
I remember kind of thinking in the moment, “What is wrong with him?” I guess over time and maturity and age and such, I definitely have some compassion for him that I think he just felt like it was just such an unthinkable, unfathomable event that he just didn’t know how to respond. His way of responding was to try and keep things as normal as possible for these teenagers. There was so much of uncertainty at the time, like would we be evacuated, would the school be closed and such?
The day just carried on, and there wasn’t this full knowledge on my part until I got home and turning on the news. It was just unbelievable. I think for my family, my parents, their whole– We’re immigrants from Bosnia, and there was a war there as well in the early ’90s when we came. Their first thought was like, “They’ve come here too. There’s war here as well.” This is just unthinkable, especially from the immigrant perspective, the perspective of your thought on where you’re going to is this magnified utopia and, yes, there’s some unrealistic aspects.
It was just unfathomable that– like it followed, the war. Like, how is this here as well? How are they attacking here? I remember that evening, we stood outside, we took small candles and we lit them and we just went– I think this was after President Bush’s speech and I think we just– or it might have just been actually before because it had to have been late, so I’m guessing like 6:00 or 7:00 PM and we went out and we just stood there with these burning candles.
I remember cars beeping to– I would imagine express solidarity and support. You feel like at such a loss. You don’t know what to do. I think that was our way of just lighting a candle for all of those who had died, so definitely something not to forget. I think the lesson for it is– one of the many to come out of it, is just the resilience of the human spirit and the power of unity and what we can accomplish when we work together. The city rebuilt, people carried on with things, it didn’t stop, certainly to some extent it did but daily life continued.
Certainly, I went back to school the next day, and obviously, the city rebuilt. My employer, it was mentioned when we were talking about COVID business contingency and stuff, plans last year, and someone mentioned we did a deal on the 12th of September. We have some experience in continuing, carrying on in a disaster situation. We have a New York office, not in the Trade Center, but the resilience of the human spirit–
I found out recently that there was a tree, like the pear tree of some sort. I forget what kind of pear but it survived badly injured. It was there somewhere in the World Trade Center complex or around there and it survived. I don’t know whoever the conservators were, they nursed it back to health, and apparently it’s there, part of the 9/11 memorial. It’s there and it’s healthy and it’s standing. I don’t know if it grows any pears, I guess I should look that up, but it’s like an amazing testament I think to resilience, that it survived.
Actually, speaking of the memorial, wanted to share a couple of resources. I haven’t yet been but there is an app, the 9/11 Memorial app that has audio tours that are not dependent on your being there at the museum. Anyone, wherever it’s in the app store, I imagine it’s US only, but I’m not sure, you can download. There’s an audio-described tour, and there’s also a “Witnessing History Tour” that as it suggests, includes witness testimonies and such. There’s an exhibit on the search and rescue dogs. It seems very interesting. I plan on checking it out. Some of the titles of exhibits, I think it’s going to be very harrowing.
They were different objects like an FDNY ladder truck and steel column and TV antenna and such. I think the described tour especially is going to be very haunting. In terms of the Flight 93 Memorial, there are a few resources. The National Park Service app has audio tours. There’s the audio tour of that memorial from there. Also, there’s an audio-described tour of that from the ACB Convention: Audio Described Tours Podcast, that’s literally what it’s called it. It’s the tours from this year’s ACB Convention, and the Flight 93 was one of those. That is there.
The UniDescription Project which was I think is like the University of Hawaii and the National Park Service and I think ACB and Google and some other organizations worked on that. It produced textual described brochures of the national parks. That’s called UniDescription, U-N-I-Description, it’s just one word and so that includes the park as well. Hopefully, that helps some people if you want to learn a bit more about what those memorials are like.
In terms of the Apple event just very quickly, I am intrigued– I don’t think I’m going to be purchasing unless something surprising comes out because I just upgraded last year to the 12 Pro. What intrigues me is this possibility of the satellite communications that I saw Mark Gurman mention on Bloomberg. It looked like it was just going to be very limited at this point, but the thought being someone on a mountain or something and if they need help to be able to bypass, they’re not going to have cellular coverage, but if they picked up a satellite coverage, they could still send a communication. That’s obviously really huge.
I’m even thinking about it in terms of like my parents. I guess because of the metal roof of the house and where it’s located, the cellular service is basically almost nonexistent with whichever carrier. If there wasn’t WiFi calling, there wouldn’t be cellular communication possibilities there. When we had Ida, the tropical storm, the internet went out, and my brother had to drive. He was there with his daughter, my niece, who’s going to be three next week. Driving with a young child in the downpouring rain, it’s dangerous conditions, I would say.
No one should have been driving in that, but he had to drive a bit to a different location so as to send an email to work saying he didn’t have internet and to text us to say that he didn’t have internet, so we couldn’t really communicate, and that’s just a scary situation. I hope that it’s something to watch, and I hope that something like that expands out in general where there isn’t good cell coverage. It definitely would be peace of mind to know that we could communicate basically wherever in an emergency if there wasn’t coverage. That’s something I’ll be watching and I’ll see what happens on Tuesday. Thank you for the thoughtful podcasts and keep up the good work.
Nick Zammarelli: Hey, Jonathan, Nick Zammarelli here. It’s been a long time. At the ungodly hour of 7:15 AM, I’m coming to you live from my classroom at my new location this year, the Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School of Coventry. Mr. Feinstein is a well-known Rhode Island philanthropist for whom the one middle school in my hometown of Coventry is named.
A couple of things I’d like to touch on, first 9/11. I was at the high school on September 11th, 2001, and I had a hall duty. My post was the lobby of the high school, which was very handy because it meant that I was very close to the library media center. I remember being in the lobby with my assistant doing what we do during hall duty, checking hall passes and inquiring as to where students were going if they were walking the hallways and so and forth and so on.
I remember walking into the library after the two planes had hit the towers, and my assistant and I had walked into the library, there was a TV on and we got there and I would say no more than a minute, a minute and a half after we got there was when the plane hit the Pentagon. I remember saying to my assistant, “We’re under attack.” It was an astonishing development.
I remember all the rest of that day, particularly when I got home from work, what an eerie feeling it was not to hear any planes overhead. There was a stillness, which is really saying something because at the time I was living on one of Coventry’s main thoroughfares which was busy from before 6:00 in the morning until about 11:00 at night. There was far less traffic than normal, and it was just It was surreal and scary and like I guess pretty much everybody else, I’ll never forget it. To tell you the truth, being in my first year as a middle school teacher, I’m wrestling a little bit about what to do in terms of teaching my students about this from a musical standpoint. I have to make a decision because it’s going to be done today and tomorrow, in my opinion, leading up to 9/11 so Thursday the 9th and Friday the 10th US Eastern Time. I have to do it two days because my classes meet every other day so I will be touching on it at least a little bit because I think it’s very, very important for these young people to learn about this devastating part of US and world history.
As to Chromebooks, I have used them because we are a Google school district. We went to Google several years ago and what’s interesting about the start of this school year is that all the students got new Chromebooks but the faculty and staff didn’t, I don’t quite know what that’s all about. It’s okay though because I don’t use the Chromebook unless I absolutely have to. Right now, I’m operating on my Lenovo T490 and that’s my main daily driver as far as a computer is concerned. The Chromebooks are somewhat accessible but I wouldn’t recommend them as a first choice but I suppose they are better than nothing and they’re not bad. Hopefully, they’ll work on them and keep on getting better.
Jonathan This email is from Keao who says, “Here is what I remember about September 11th, 2001. I was in seventh grade and I had to stay home from school. I had the stomach flu that day and I heard the news on the radio. I was waiting for mom to get home and I was watching the reports on TV about the plane crashes and what was going on in the World Trade Center. Later on that day, I went out shopping with her brother for a while just to get my mind off of the horrible news.
Peggy: Hey, Jonathan. This is Peggy Kern, I was just thinking about your requests for memories of September 11th and where we were, what we remembered. I remember it was a Tuesday. I remember getting up for work and went down to the basement to feed the bunnies and hang out with them for a while. It was at the time where there were a lot of voice services where you could log in and do voice chats and stuff. I was really into that so I logged in and started hearing things about an airplane hit the World Trade Center.
I thought, “Oh wow,” I wonder if it was an accident or what that was about and all of a sudden people were talking about in a second airplane and a third airplane. I was going, “Oh, wow, this is more than just an accident or some freak thing so then later I went upstairs to get ready to go to work. By that time Dan and our daughter were up and I was telling them about it and Dan turned on the TV. I remember hearing on the TV sirens going and he actually saw one of the towers fall and I was just, “Oh my gosh this is horrible.” By then our daughter’s friend had called and said, “I’m not going to school,” and our daughter said, “Can I stay home too?”
Dan didn’t have anything to do so we are sure, I didn’t have any reason not to go to work so they dropped me off at work and soon as I walked into the office, I thought, “Oh, I wonder if people know about this.” Coming into work, well they– As soon as I walked into the office, I heard just like tons of television and people talking about the and this airplane crashed here and that one crashed there. There we were just getting all this news and we didn’t stay open long, they sent everybody home just like three hours later just everybody go home because they didn’t know how big this thing was.
That was the day of, but the really powerful memory I have is every September, our family was involved in a musical review called Best of Broadway where we did segments from musicals or just I don’t know where he got all the shows. This particular year, it just coincidentally happened that we had a patriotic segment right before the finale and had nothing. We didn’t know September 11th was coming up but we started rehearsing the show in July and it was planned a long time before that. We had this big patriotic segment with a lot of spirited patriotic songs and then it ended right before the finale, it ended with God Bless America and we’re, “Oh good.”
This is how we going to get through this after September 11th and it was tough. Let me tell you all the patriotic, spirited stuff was fun, and then somehow it was choreographed that we all ended up out on stage and the soloists started to sing God Bless America. Instantly, it was amazing instantly like one body the whole audience just stood and a lot of them had, I don’t know where they got them but they had little flags that they were holding. The children’s cast the young kids and they were just smiling but all the adults were crying. It was just amazing but I think it was really a healing thing just for us all to be together and go through that together and grieve together.
It was funny because then we had news reporters saying and as a tribute to this Best of Broadway did this segment, “No, it wasn’t a tribute.” We didn’t know, we had our producer said, “I’m never going to do the patriotic segment again,” because I guess he’d done it about 15 years before when we invaded Afghanistan or something. Then now this in September 11th, he said, “I’m not ever going to do that patriotic segment again.” Anyway, those were our memories and it was just really a very emotional time so that’s where we were and what we were doing.
Jonathan: Patty Savir write, “I was walking into an elementary school and staff was standing by the door and quickly uttering me into the teacher’s lounge to announce that one of the Twin Towers had been hit by an aircraft. We were instructed not to say anything to the children, no one knew much at that point. As I progressed through my day going to all the schools, people were quiet. I listened to the news between schools, it was difficult to continue work because I wanted to know more information. Of course, once I returned home, I was glued to media for anything I could listen to. That night it was very quiet especially without hearing airplanes going. I was awoken by a 130 aircraft, the military US.
You can imagine what went through my mind, who will be hit next. It took me some time to fall asleep. It was an eerie experience overall even though I did not know anyone personally, I knew people in New York and Washington DC. It is on my bucket list to go to Ground Zero to honor all the precious individuals that lost their lives. It is even more important to honor all the ones who’s survived, helped tirelessly are missing their loved ones, and suffering with multiple injuries and after-effects. There was a special last evening on the ABC network about the women who were part of the tragedy.
Secondly, I want to thank you for the marvelous ABBA program you presented, they are by far my favorite rock group. I have all their music and now I have to purchase the new CD, what an amazement it is to have them back and they sounded wonderful. Thank you so much. I enjoy listening to Small World as well, I love the stories and songs. It is cool to reminisce, I hope you can continue for some time with Small World.” Thank you, Patty.
Alison: Hi, Jonathan. This is Alison Fallon. I’m in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On 9/11 I was living in a condo in Central New York and I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing. I was drinking coffee and I had good morning America on and Charlie Gibson came on and started talking about the towers. I called my mom and said, “Have you turned on the TV?” She said, “I never watched TV in the morning.” I said, “Well, you need to turn it on.” She was just amazed as everyone else was. We were just stunned throughout the day. The thing that I remember most was, I forget his name now, but he had, I think it was like a financial firm something cancer.
I remember him saying over and over, “A hundred people, how can I help a hundred people?” He would have been there but he took his son for the first day of kindergarten and it just haunted me. He just sounded so anguished. It was an amazing day. Everybody was just glued to the TV and our church had a prayer service that night. It’s just a day, I will never forget.
Jonathan: This contribution from George McDermott who writes, “Greetings, Jonathan. Longtime listener, first-time writer. Although I imagine it gets old hearing it, the product you produce in your podcast is fantastic. Even when I don’t have time to listen to the show in its entirety, I always find the bit I do listen to useful and interesting. Working my way through their plant eyes per your interview with the author and have enjoyed the discussion on blindness culture.
I wanted to share my experience of 9/11. I was attending university at the time and it had a touch too much the night before. I recall vividly being woken up by a call from my father asking me what I made of the news. At the time the planes had crashed into the WTC but not yet the Pentagon. I subsequently turned on the TV and listened to the programming.
I recall listening live as the Pentagon was struck, reporters describing people, jumping out of the WTC towers, trying to escape and the buildings themselves collapsing. At that point, I turned off the TV and started wandering about campus.
I attended university in Colorado Springs which has several military installations. Throughout the day, I heard jets on patrol. I found it comforting then and I still do whenever I hear a military jet, my wanderings about campus as I listened to the jet flash into my head. Thank you for discussing this topic and for the great work. Also, I have used a thank for my bill to human wear for my Mantis Q40, best Braille display ever.”
May Thompson: Hi, Jonathan. It’s May Thompson here again, just to let you know what I was doing on September the 11th in 2001. I had been at the gym at the blind society and then I went out for lunch and came back. When I got back, Paul said, “You’ll never guess what’s happened.” The TV was on. I sat down and watch the telly and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This time it was about two o’clock in the afternoon. After that, it was just on the radio and on the TV all the time. I just couldn’t stop listening somehow just, I think it must have been worse for people who could see bad enough for us to know but it must have been terrible for people who could actually see it.
It’s funny when these things happen, you always remember where you were but it seemed to be on for days afterwards. It was just unbelievable.
Jonathan: Here’s a Canadian perspective from Kelly Sapergia. “Hi, Jonathan. I can’t believe it’s 20 years since September 11th, 2001. Yet, I remember it as though it were yesterday. I can still remember waking up that morning and tuning around the radio dial. Just as news was coming out regarding the first plane hitting the north tower of the World Trade Center. At first, I thought nothing of it but shortly afterward, there came the news that the second plane had hit the south tower. What is this? I thought aloud. National airplane accidents day or something. It only got worse.
Two things, in particular, stand out for me on that day. First, as the morning went on, our local morning shows sounded vastly different. Everyone was talking about what was going on in the US by the time the World Trade Center collapsed. Even the music had changed. One of our pop music stations for example stopped playing the current songs of the day. Instead began playing Imagine by John Lennon and Only Time by Enya among others. Things are serious when a station suddenly breaks away from its format like that. Shortly after that, they began simulcasting the coverage on their sister news talk station.
When I tuned into the latter station around noon, a message would play before every commercial break saying, ‘Due to the ongoing coverage of the attack on America, regular programming has been preempted until further notice.’ The other thing that stands out for me is how quiet everything was. We had to drive to town for groceries and I can still recall that there was hardly any traffic, even at places that are normally busy. Truly a day, I will never forget, and may it never happen again.”
Thank you for sharing your memories, Kelly, and to everyone else who has shared their memories. I have to say that I suspect the next very significant attack will be a cyber one. Although people may immediately say, “Well, that can’t possibly be as bad.” Let’s not forget the degree to which computers control our lives. Everything from power plants, to water supplies and everything in between. I fear that if we’re not careful, there will be a massive cyber attack at some point that could have disastrous consequences.
Voiceover: What’s on your mind, send an email with a recording of your voice or just write it down. Jonathan@mushroomfm.com, that’s J-O-N-A-T-H-A-N@mushroomfm.com or phone our listener line. The number in the United States is 864-60Mosen, that’s 864-606-6736.
Jonathan: Thanks to everybody who sent really kind messages after the episode that we did with Paul Gibson talking about abuse at schools for the blind, many of them asked not to be read. I appreciate the sentiments that people expressed. It was a difficult episode to do but it was an important episode to do. We do have one anonymous contribution that has asked to be read as long as I keep it anonymous which, of course, I’m always happy to do and honor that request.
The contribution says I went to a school for blind children in the 1960s. I do not believe there was overt abuse such as sexual although I was not a boarder. There may have been cases of children who were boarders, who were subject to this kind of abuse. The point I would raise is more one of neglect not so much physical but intellectual and emotional. Looking back, I see that children were put into boxes depending on their intellectual ability and social behavior. Some were put in the too hard basket and not given nearly enough attention.
Kids who didn’t fit into any particular category such as partially sighted kids who were considered to have too much vision to be taught Braille but too little to read print but often left to struggle along as best they could with not much scale in either. Children who were exceptionally bright were given special attention and often made an example of to visitors while those who were of just normal intelligence were not given opportunities to reach their full capabilities.
Some kids who are mainly socially disabled and by these, children who had been institutionalized all their lives and not learn social skills were mainly put into classes with intellectually handicapped children and therefore have no chance to reach anything like a normal intellectual level. Eventually, some deaf-blind children were introduced and taught by people who had training in the education of deaf-blind children.
I believe this to have been perhaps minimal, I suppose there could be an excuse made by saying that the people who taught and supervised us were often not trained and teaching children with any kind of disability but the fact remains that there are quite a number of people who went through both religious and government schools, where I grew up at that time who have struggled as adults with problems of self-image and self-worth.
Thank you so much for that contribution. I really do feel for partially sighted people throughout the years because there have been varying views on this. There was a concept, I don’t believe it was around when I was at school but before I was at school there was this concept called sight savers. The concept was if you didn’t use the sight that you had, you would lose it. Little thought was given to prognosis and of course, people were deprived of Braille, who really could have benefited from it in later life.
Kim: Hello, Jonathan. This is Kim Paulk, and your recent topic on blindisms reminded me of a warm experience I had when I was at a school for the blind in Florida, in my early 40s, when I was coming out as a blind person and getting a white cane and other skills in order to adjust to tunnel vision with RP. There was a student there, who did this hand rubbing in a very severe way. One day, I asked him if he thought it would be okay if it was a person in the room who had made loud screeching sounds that were very painful to hear. He said, “Well, no, that would hurt my ears.”
I said, “Well, what if the person were deaf? Would that be okay then because, after all, the deaf person can’t hear it?” He said, “No, it would still hurt my ears and everyone else’s, too.” I said, “Yes, that’s correct.” I said, “That is the way the manner in which you rub your eyes affects people who can see. It hurts people who can see the same way.” By the time I graduated from the school a month or so later, he was no longer doing that behavior in front of any of us. I complimented him for conquering that, as I’m sure he had been doing that for his entire life, and he was a middle-aged man.
I do not know what strategies he used to overcome that, but I found a way to use that again later because about maybe seven or eight years later, I had moved to Georgia and was an intern at a K-12 school. This was a school for the blind. There was a high schooler who did the rocking that you described, and his teachers would correct him out loud attempting to get him to stop rocking, and he would have a loud argument. He said the same thing that I heard you mention earlier, Jonathan, which was that, “Well, it’s something that people can see and it doesn’t hurt anybody.” He said that same argument to the teacher.
I took him aside later on and I asked him the same question I asked the first gentleman and got the same answers, of course. Since I was a volunteer in his classroom, I asked the boy if he would like to work on eliminating it, and that way his teacher wouldn’t be fussing at him anymore, and he said, “Yes.” We worked with the teacher, and the teacher or I would walk over and tap him on the shoulder if he forgot and started to rock again. Because he was voluntarily working on ending the behavior, he knew what it meant and he would stop right away. It didn’t take him, I don’t think, two weeks to stop that behavior.
Jonathan, I can tell you, this young man gained so much confidence. It was just amazing to watch how achieving that and no longer being admonished by anyone because he wasn’t doing that anymore. I’m going to take a guess that he stopped doing it at home, too. Sometimes when we have, any of us, when we have a bad habit that we are constantly being asked to stop, it means it’s irritating the others around us, and so that’s a good time to quit. Anyway, that was a fun experience and I’ve never forgotten that, obviously.
I’d also like to share that on Dr. Phil, on TV, I heard him say once that sometimes habits begin for one reason and continue for another. I also know that modern counseling, today, can help us determine the root cause of bad habits that any of us might have and help us work through, either overcoming what began the habit or work on ways to come up with something less disturbing to others. I hope this is helpful, and thanks so much for your wonderful work on your shows.
Jonathan: Lena says, “I hope you have time to do the Chromebook evaluation this weekend.” Sadly, we are not going to have time, Lena, because we had so many interesting contributions on 9/11, but I will get back to it. She continues, “If it is accessible, its lower cost could help some of our disabled children. I would like to know if any of your listeners who use Android devices have tried the Voxmate apps. The demo seems amazing.” Yes, we will get to Voxmate, Lena, because they have reached out to me, and I’m going to get Richard to come over with his Android device.
Maybe I just need to get an Android device, so I have one here, even if it’s not my primary device, and we’ll run this and we’ll put it through its paces, and have a chat to the Voxmate team as well. It does sound interesting. I appreciate very much, says Lena, that you have chapter headings in your podcast. “I don’t often skip anything.” Oh, that’s good, but it is helpful when I want someone else to hear something. Thanks very much, Lena, we appreciate that.
Marissa is writing in with an interesting question. “Hello, Jonathan. Since you have been in radio for a long time and held other various job opportunities, have you ever interviewed any celebrities?” Well, I suppose it depends on how you define celebrities, Marissa. I’ve certainly interviewed many prime ministers in New Zealand over the years, certainly when I was working in commercial radio.
I have interviewed Sir. Edmund Hillary, who was a New Zealander, who was the first to climb Mount Everest successfully and get back down in 1953. It was really an unfortunate series of circumstances that led me to interview Sir Edmund. He just got back from India, having done a stint as New Zealand’s ambassador there, and Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, and my producer got Sir Edmund on my breakfast show for me to interview him about his memories of Rajiv Gandhi. Some of the prime ministers I interviewed were people like Jim Bolger and David Lange, who’s a pretty famous international figure from New Zealand, Sir. Robert Muldoon, and a few of other politicians of that ilk.
I have also been privileged to interview a few sportspeople from New Zealand, particularly New Zealand cricketers, and that’s a really big thing for me because I am a huge fan of cricket, so it was always good to do those interviews. On ACB Radio, probably my favorite interview that I did was with Ronnie Milsap on Blind Line, and that was a great discussion and Ronnie was really generous with his time. It was funny because he was in touch with me, and I think he was asking a technical question, so I answered his question, and then I thought, “Well, what have I got to lose?”
I said, “Ronnie, if you’re ever at home on a Sunday night,” because it was Sunday night, US time when we did Blind Line, “we’d love to have you on for the whole two hours. I’ll have a chat to you about your life story, and then we’ll just take calls from listeners. What do you think? If you’re interested, let me know.”
My phone number was in the signature, my office phone, because I had a separate office phone number for ACB Radio then, and it was a Sunday afternoon, my time. I was working away in my office, just doing some prep for the week, the phone rings, and I pick it up and, “Hey, it’s Ronnie Milsap, calling from Nashville.” I had a good chat to him, we agreed on a date, and Amanda, my wife at the time, came in and said, “Who was that on the phone?” I said, “It was Ronnie Milsap,” and she said, “Yes, right, and I’m the queen of England.” She didn’t believe me that Ronnie Milsap had called. That was a fun interview to do.
I think also what’s been special for me, and actually, Matt Campbell wrote to me about this recently, was the interviews that I’ve done with some really influential figures in technology, way back in the very beginning of Blind Line, even before ACB Radio was around. I was doing Blind Line on my own little station called MBS, which was the Mosen Broadcasting System. My first interview was with Doug Jeoffroy. He’s with Microsoft now, but he made a huge contribution to our industry and is still making it. Then I interviewed Ted Henter and David Kostyshyn from Syntha-Voice, and a lot of really key people in the industry.
I have to say that the equipment I used back in the late 1990s was not the best, it was pretty primitive stuff, but those recordings are now of historical significance really. Those are a few of the things that I can think of that I’ve been really pleased to have played a part in. Interesting question, Marissa. Thank you. You got me thinking. Jackie is writing in and says, “I was just reading the AccessiBe post, titled, Industry Wake Up Call, and boy, do I have thoughts. How can this company claim the internet is largely inaccessible when I can easily navigate the majority of sites with VoiceOver and Safari on the Mac?
There were times when I had to use the screen reader mode, but that was before Apple updated Mojave recently. Now websites work just fine without the overlay. I personally don’t think AccessiBe is necessary if you keep your system updated. I listened to your show on AccessiBe and it was a rather lively debate. I appreciate you challenging Michael on the value of this solution. I think there are faults on both sides of the debate while I agree with the two opponents, I think they were cocky and arrogant with their tone of voice. Michael seemed cocky and arrogant too, Curtis was the only one who offered a balanced reasoned perspective. While I agree with the views of AccessiBe opponents, it doesn’t pay to be arrogant about it.
If AccessiBe was involved in posting fake reviews and other unethical practices, shame on them. The manual approach has worked for a long time now, so how can AccessiBe claim their solution is the only one that works. It makes no sense. The hostility on both sides needs to stop, we need to educate AccessiBe on how and why the manual approach has worked for so long. Web accessibility should be up to the site developers, there is no one size fits all solution as AccessiBe is claiming.
Tom: Hi there, Tom in Charlotte, North Carolina, not for very much longer. Getting ready to move to a new city in a somewhat different part of the United States from where I am now to being our family. I don’t want to go from one industry for the blind/sheltered workshop job to another. I’m thinking of taking some business courses and possibly even getting my real estate license because the realtor that I’ve been working with. I’m having to work a little bit to get her attuned, to my need, to be where it’s walkable, to where I can walk to grocery stores and things like that easily.
I’m seeing that there is a need in the real estate market that’s not being met. I wanted to get your ideas on how I would get my foot in the door. I know you’re in New Zealand, but I know this is not just a US problem either.
Jonathan: Hey, thanks for calling in, Tom. Good luck with the move and I really like the way you think, you’ve detected a gap in the market and you’re starting to think, how can I fill that gap? What do I need to do? That shows some real entrepreneurial flair. I think you’re going to be okay. I don’t know a lot about real estate, except that I believe I have heard of other blind real estate professionals.
It’s possible that a service like AFB connect in the United States, which is a great service that seeks to connect blind professionals with people who want to be in that profession that might be able to help you out. Or we may just happen to have a blind real estate professional who was listening to the show, who might want to comment. I imagine the process would be similar to anybody getting their real estate license.
You’ve got to do the training and all that kind of stuff. Then it will come down to the marketing because it sounds like what you are saying is you’re identifying this niche market where typical real estate professionals may just not be aware of the unique needs that blind people and other disabled people may have when they’re seeking somewhere to live. I think it’s a great idea and also you can get real estate agents who can be a little bit overzealous. They think, “Oh, we can’t show the blind man this house because it’s got steps,” or something like that. I reckon you’re onto something and I wish you all the very best with getting it set up.
If anybody has any thoughts for Tom on how to proceed from here, please do be in touch. You might want to think about coming to New Zealand though, Tom. I tell you our real estate market is crazy. House prices have appreciated so much, it’s a big worry for those of us with kids who are trying to get on the property ladder because we’ve got a supply shortage, we’ve got people buying up property and using them as rental property that is putting the price of rent up. It does mean that if you are a real estate agent, who’s getting commission on the sale, they are doing very well. You would be able to afford a BMW and pay someone to drive it with all the dosh you would be making.
Voiceover: Jonathan Mosen. Mosen At Large.
Jonathan: We’re saying hello to Laurel Jean Walden who says, “Hi Jonathan? One of my jobs is that of a church staff musician. My director has just been diagnosed with a form of neuropathy. One of her jobs involves her climbing a treacherous flight of stairs in order to access the computer in the church balcony for putting lyrics on screens. I told her there might be a way in which she can access the computer remotely from her home or office. I’m fairly savvy when it comes to computers and could definitely assist her in setting this up. She is sighted. We have a good working rapport and she trusts me.
Do you have a software recommendation for such a remote setup? I have used TeamViewer a lot, but this particular use case would require something that is always on. These are windows, PCs always kept on and connected to Wi-Fi. Any suggestions that you might have would be very much appreciated. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge so generously with all of us.” Thank you, Laurel Jean. Right built into windows is a thing called Microsoft Remote Desktop and it’s perfect for what you want to do.
To give you an example of this, I use it to maintain the Mushroom FM Computer all the time. I can just have it running in the background, once you set it up, it’s actually part of the operating system. You then remote into the computer by running the Remote Desktop Client and providing whatever credentials you have set up and you use the computer as if you were sitting in front of it. If she’s sitting with a laptop somewhere in the church, then you can really easily remote in because they’ll be on the same internal network and you can use internal IP addresses.
If you want her to be able to log in remotely, say from home, then you’re going to have to set up one of two things. Either set the router up so that the Microsoft Remote Desktop port is exposed to the elements and it’s open on the internet. There are some risks in doing that because it’s a pretty commonly known port and some naughty people try to get in, but you can do that. Even better set up a Virtual Private Network, maybe your router at the church support this and set her up on the VPN, have her log into the VPN, and then she’d be able to use the computer remotely.
Those are a couple of scenarios that you might want to investigate since you are tech-savvy. Google is your friend, there’s plenty of documentation from Microsoft on Microsoft Remote Desktop. Also since you’re blind, you can probably ask for good quality assistance from Microsoft’s Super Duper disability answer desk, hope that’s of some help.
Stan: Greeting, Jonathan Mosen and Mosen At Large, this is Stan and I want to talk about something that happened to me recently, at one of my jobs at Rogue Retreat. Rogue Retreat is a non-profit here in the Medford, Oregon area. Oftentimes, when I come in there, one of the people is prone to buy cup of coffee for those of us that are there and of course, I’m the most prolific coffee drinker that there is there. I wanted to pay for the coffee. I wanted to do something to give back and pay for the coffee instead of having her pay for the coffee, just because that’s what I wanted to do.
She said something very interesting and this is why I want to talk about this. She said that she has trouble taking money from a blind man. I found that interesting and I called her on this and I said, “What in the world are you talking about? How do you figure this?” I never really got a good answer. I don’t know whether it’s a pity thing, which I fear that’s the case and I really don’t like it. I’m not sure how to deal with this because when I do go in there, we always have a cup of coffee together. A group of us do, of course, this person who wouldn’t take the money. I finally got her to take the money for me.
I wanted to buy her the coffee as well, but she would not allow me to do that. Rather like, you have to pick your battles.
Jonathan: You do indeed, Stan, you do indeed. It is interesting, I think I would treat this one as lightheartedly as possible, because her heart’s in the right place, isn’t it? I think I would have said what you had said, why do you think it’s not okay to take money from me just because I’m blind? Tell me about that. Then, I probably would have said, “Look, you’re so good at buying the coffee most of the time, it would mean a lot to me if I could make a contribution in this way. Honestly, I’d like to, my money’s just the same as your money. If you would, please let me do this, it would just mean so much to me to make that contribution.”
Then, if she just insisted, no, I think I would drop it, and think, “Well, this is odd,” but as you say, you have to pick your battles. It would have been interesting to see if you could have got a clear explanation about why taking money from a blind man was so abhorrent to her, was just not something she was prepared to do. Where does that come from? I wonder. Interesting. I wonder whether others have had similar experiences and how they’ve handled it.
Here’s an email from Daniel Jacob, who says, “Hi, Jonathan, I’m looking for an accessible digital recorder that uses either SD or micro SD card, especially micro SD. I was wondering if you might have some recommendations. I need one with an external 3.5-millimeter auxiliary jack for recording off an external source. Thanks so much.” Well, thank you, Daniel.
I’ll open this up because it’s not something that I have investigated very much. I don’t know whether portability is important to you. This could be a factor. Do you want something that you can carry around in your pocket, or is it something you could tolerate lugging around in a backpack?
There is a wide range of options available from Zoom, the people who make the PodTrak P4 that has gone a bit viral in certain circles of the blind community. There may well be a 3.5-millimeter line-in jack in one of those. I know that Olympus has made recorders like this over the years, so if anyone has a specific recommendation for Daniel, preferably micro SD, with a line in, then, by all means, get in touch.
Speaker 2: For all things Mosen At Large, check out the website, where you can listen to episodes online, subscribe using your favorite podcast app, and contact the show. Just point your browser to podcast.mosen.org. That’s podcast.M-O-S-E-N.org.
Jonathan: We have two, count them, two emails from Matthew Whitaker about Zoom. He says, “Hello, Jonathan, hope all is well. I have a few questions with Zoom. I use Zoom on various devices, Mac, iPhone, iPad, et cetera. I’m wondering how users of Zoom are able to have different display names, for example, Matthew on iPhone joins the meeting, Matthew on iPad joins the meeting. Any ideas on how to achieve this? I have a pro account on the platform if this helps out.”
Matthew, I believe you just go into the display name feature in settings on each device. To give you an example, if you go into the settings tab of the iPhone version of Zoom, you’ll see at the top there your name, and a truncated email address, and the status of your Zoom account, whether it’s licensed or not. If you double-tap there, you get into your profile screen. Right there, there’s a thing called display name. My understanding is that if you change that there, then it only changes it on the device. That’s where you could put Matthew on iPhone, for example, and it shouldn’t affect the other devices.
Matthew continues, “I recently discovered that you can use various apps within Zoom directly. I wonder how this works from a blind user’s point of view sounds like a good idea for a Mosen At Large podcast.” It may well be Matthew, this is a new feature, the ability to have apps inside Zoom. I have certainly read Zoom talking about this, but I’m not actually that regular a Zoom user anymore because my workplace is making extensive use of Teams, and increasingly, I find that external meetings that I go to virtually are now on Teams. I will see if I can allocate some time to having a play with this, and learning about the accessibility of these Zoom apps. Zoom has a pretty good track record when it comes to accessibility.
Hopefully, they’ve done a good job here as well. I don’t know to what degree the API or whatever it is they’re using mandates accessibility, though. If you are using Zoom apps, what are you using them for? What value do you think they are adding? I know there’d be a lot of interest in that if you’d like to make a contribution on the subject. Matthew continues one more thing… you sound like Steve Jobs, Matthew. “I was recently on a Zoom meeting as a participant, and when the host hit the record button, a dialog popped up on my screen, and I was able to navigate and interact with it. While that went on, a text to speech voice announced that the recording was starting.
I find those two things really interesting because when I use the recording feature as a host to record a meeting, I hear a pre-recorded voice that is in very low quality. I’m wondering how you customize to achieve those results I mentioned earlier in this email. The host also had a pro account and was using a Mac. He was also blind.” Matthew continues in another email, “I wanted to reply to this email with an update to my last one. It turns out that Zoom themselves changed the recording announcements when you record, pause and stop recording. I’m curious what you and your listeners think. Personally, I really like what they did, and it’s much better than what was there before.”
Thanks, Matthew. I have heard these announcements on Zoom meetings. I have been on recently, as I say, “Don’t do too many anymore.” It’s interesting because people who aren’t used to things talking like that, it does stop them in their tracks and they go, “Oh, it tells me it’s recording.”
Debee Armstrong is back and she says, “I was taught the slate in third grade and I hated it. I have read Braille with an uppercase B since I was five and I read a great deal, but writing with a slate, yuck.
However, I decided this COVID year to practice using the slate which is ever so much smaller than a Braille writer and so convenient, and I’m way, way faster. I find myself picking up the slate now to make notes even when the Braille writer is convenient. I’m wondering if any of you have particular suggestions now, for improving my speed? My accuracy is great, it didn’t use to be, but I’m still not that fast. Should I, for example, find a way to sharpen a stylus? I have about 10 slates and styluses or (styli) squirreled away, and I’m not that fast with any of them. Ideally, I’d like to take notes during a phone conversation and write at the same speed someone does with a pencil. Is that possible?”
It’s a great question, Debee. I hope we get lots of feedback on this. I have heard at meetings, people really going at a good clip with the slate and stylus, or as we call it here, and maybe they call it in the UK a pocket frame, but I have never used one. Not in my whole life. I was not taught to use one, and I have had no desire to pick it up. I open this up and look forward to the wisdom of our very wise Mosen At Large community.
Let’s go to the UK now and hear from Henry who says, “Dear Jonathan, I trust this email finds you both keeping well and that you are looking forward to spring in New Zealand. Firstly, may I congratulate you on your wonderful thought-provoking and informative podcasts and the quality of sound is ideal for me with a hearing loss. A few weeks ago, you mentioned you were reading After by Dr. Bruce Greyson. I found this book on Audible and gave it a listen.
It was very interesting and pleasing that it was approaching near-death experiences, NDE, from a scientific perspective. The conclusion I draw from this book is that the mind is separate from the brain similar to what the Buddhists believe. A big question I would like to ask Dr. Bruce Greyson is, did he interview or treat disabled people, and, in particular, blind patients who experienced NDEs? I just wonder what your thoughts are about the book?”
Thanks, Henry. Well, it is a very intriguing read. I do my best to keep my mind open to new evidence, to interesting science. I don’t know what to make of the book, but I did find it intriguing. We can open it up. I realized that it could be quite a personal thing to talk about. If there are blind people out there who have had near-death experiences, who’ve been in a position where they felt like they have left their body, and heading somewhere and within sent back, that would be a very interesting thing to hear about.
This one is from James who writes, “Greetings from Georgia. Longtime listener, first-time emailer.” Welcome to you. I hope it will be the first of many. “I was wanting to know,” he says, “if I could pick your brain for some advice about a business venture that I am considering. I am a certified vision rehab therapist, CVRT, as well as an assistive technology instructor. I’ve been working for a not-for-profit near Atlanta for nearly eight years. I am starting to feel professional growing pains. I feel that it is time for me to strike out on my own. However, I don’t know how beyond the establishment and setting up of the business entity itself.
Although I am a CVRT, technology is my passion, and it is what I enjoy teaching the most. I feel that my business would focus on teaching AT to blind and low-vision individuals. What I would like to know is, what is the best marketing strategy for getting the word out? Do you recommend a sliding scale for rate of pay or a flat hourly rate across the board? Did you include any supplemental materials for that pay rate, keyboard commands, cheat sheets, specially created instructional videos, et cetera.
Thank you for any advice. I hope I’m not asking you to reveal too many trade secrets. I feel that my biggest problem is just getting started. I sit around and put so much thought into planning that I never actually start. I think I need to just do it, and let the business grow and change organically. Good to hear from you, James. It’s a dream so many of us have isn’t it, stepping out starting on our own. The first question I would have is capital and savings. Are you going to have enough resource to allow the business to spin up because sometimes it can take time to get a client base?
Second, I think it would be a really good idea to find a business mentor of some kind. If you want to run this as a profitable venture, it would be good to have a business plan, how many clients do you need to make this viable, what kind of income are you anticipating, what does success look like, how long are you going to give this because the majority, unfortunately, of small businesses do fail. If you are an individual who is stepping out as a consultant, you really do have to have the ability to go out there and make the pitch. There are people who possess a lot of knowledge, who are really good at what they do, but they don’t find it easy to sell the services that they’re offering to really market themselves.
Those problems aren’t insurmountable. You can purchase quality marketing advice and marketing material. Again, you’ve got to have the budget for that. You may need a bit of capital to spin this up properly. Alternatively, it may be much less complicated than that. If you can find people who are willing to work with remote contractors, then you may be able to contract as a consultant to any number of agencies, particularly if you can demonstrate the quality of your work. It also depends on precisely what field you want to specialize in. When I ran Mosen Consulting, we did a range of things. I was very fortunate because I’d been around a while. It was pretty easy to get through some doors for me.
We had four key business areas, which meant the work was really interesting and varied. There was some of the advocacy stuff that I was doing, which wasn’t something I did a lot in a professional capacity, but I did a bit of it, meeting facilitation, providing advice, that kind of thing. There was the audiobooks and tutorials and that’s a tricky one. The iOS without the I series was hugely successful. It did end up subsidizing a lot of the other material that people valued.
If you were looking at each of those projects in isolation, the accountant would say, this isn’t really paying its way. If you look at how long it takes you to produce a quality tutorial, then you’re not getting sufficient sales really to make it stand alone and get people like them, and it increases your profile for other work. Sometimes you have to decide that you’re getting into a loss leader situation. Really, it was the iOS without the I series that made the rest of the audiobooks and tutorials viable.
The work that I did enjoy that I don’t really talk about much because I can’t, is when you get put under a nondisclosure agreement, and you work with large corporations on accessibility issues. It sounds like in your case, your passion is teaching assistive technology to others. If you are able to provide advice to app developers, then there may well be a market there as well. A number of the apps that were once highly inaccessible, and now very accessible. I’m talking about some pretty big-name apps because of work that Mosen Consulting did under a nondisclosure agreement.
In my case, what worked for me was having a portfolio of options that I worked with. If you specialize as a provider of quality assistive technology material that may well be sufficient, particularly if you can tap into consultancy work for other blindness entities, rather than just relying on word of mouth. Word of mouth can work, but it can take a long time to spin up. You may be able to advance that though by advertising on, say podcasts that take advertising, or various other places, Facebook might be another option, which can give you quite targeted ads that many people are now opting out of if they have Apple devices.
I think a business mentor looking at your specific skill set, the business plan that you might have, would be really helpful. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. In terms of hourly rates, there are people out there who do this dirt cheap, because it’s just supplementing their income a little bit and that’s fine. If you are trying to make a living out of this in a sustainable business like way, you’ve got to charge a feasible hourly rate that takes into account the value of what you are adding, but also overheads. You have utilities to pay for, you’ve got to keep up with changing trends. Your computer technology has got to be reasonably current. There will be downtime.
If you’re going to be relevant and up to speed, you will need to devote some time keeping current with the ever-changing world of technology. The hourly rate you charge needs, essentially to subsidize the times that you are devoting to learning, staying current, the admin that inevitably comes with a small business. Some people will resent that and say, you’re gouging the blind community, they don’t know what it’s like to run a real business and to try and keep food on the table and make this genuinely workable, and self-sustaining. I do think you need to charge a realistic hourly rate, don’t shrink away from the value that you’re adding, if you genuinely believe you are adding value.
I would avoid charging one rate for agencies that you work with, and one for individuals that you work with because that inevitably gets out and it creates mistrust. An agency will say, “You’re just freezing us. You’re charging as an agency rate, but you’re giving the same thing to individuals for say 30, 40 bucks cheaper,” that doesn’t work, that dense your credibility, unfortunately. Definitely, if you are doing one on one training, then I would, in that situation, offer a recording of all the training sessions to the customer on the understanding that they are not to distribute that recording.
This is one of the really difficult things about working in this space. Piracy is a real issue for small operators who are just trying to make a contribution. There are some pretty unscrupulous people out there, who don’t respect that and don’t respect the time that these things take. If you can rely on the honesty of those you work with, to respect the recordings, I would give them recordings of the session, if you’re doing them over Zoom, or Teams, or some other technology, absolutely.
If they work better from written notes, and many do make a note of all the things that you’re teaching, pass those notes on, again, on the understanding that they are for the individual’s use only. What I would say is that, the more value that you can think of adding, the more different you can make your service, the greater the chance of success. There may well be many programs for disabled people wanting to start their own small business, many -programs that you might be able to tap into as a source of potential clients, that in the US are available, but that I’m just not aware of.
That’s where it would be good to find a business mentor, also potentially a mentor who really understands your market, who’s been there themselves, who can provide you with support and advice. Mentoring when you’re taking this big plunge, and starting a new business, I think is really important. I wish you all the best with it. Good luck.
I’d 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, 864-606-6736.
[01:59:26] [END OF AUDIO]