Podcast Transcript: Mosen at large episode 190, the visual description debate goes viral, more on abuse at schools for the blind, and Remote Incident Manager from Pneuma Solutions

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[music]

Jonathan Mosen: I’m Jonathan Mosen and this is Mosen At Large, the show that’s got the blind community talking. My pronouns are he/him and I’m a short blind guy in a dark suit with a blue tie, much more on this later. There’s more about abuse at schools for the blind and a feature on remote incident manager from Pneuma Solutions.

Singers: Mosen At Large podcast.

Jonathan: Some response to my comments from episode 189 about my evidence to the Royal Commission on abuse and care. We’ll start with Aaron Linton. He says, “I remember an O&M teacher at my school for the blind that would yell at kids of all ages. Nobody ever called her out on her behavior. When it came to other teachers, parents, and co-workers, her voice would be normal and her demeanor would be decent.

When I would talk with this particular O&M instructor, she was always pleasant to me, which really never made sense in my head. I also had a dorm parent at the school who would always yell and make comments to any student. I remember I was on the phone with my mom and she came in yelling at me about something. I was 17 at the time and, fortunately, my mom heard her. I remember this particular dorm parent saying, ‘He’s almost an adult. I can talk to him anyway I want.’

Well, needless to say, she never did that again and was nicer to every student afterwards. In regards to these individuals, I’ve never understood why action was never taken from the principal’s side of the matter. Many students complained and I believe parents did as well. I urge parents of blind kids. Please listen to your kids and to take their complaints seriously. If something doesn’t seem right about a teacher, O&M instructor, et cetera, speak up, you are your kids’ voice until they find their own voice. Anyway, I hope your trip goes well and that the music will flow through your veins and keep your spirits up.”

Thank you, Aaron. Very well said, yelling like that is a form of abuse. It’s not necessary. It can be highly intimidating. The other thing I would add to your comments is if the system is closing in to protect people who are abusive, and there’s no doubt this does happen, then complain further up the chain. Go beyond the immediate system and seek redress from authorities.

Here’s an email from Dave Gordon and he writes, “Hi, Jonathan. I really enjoy your podcast and while I look forward a lot to the technical discussion and the excellent reviews that you do on various products, I took special interest in the last one where you talked about abuse at residential schools for the blind. I believe it is a much covered up thing. I write about it some in my book titled Hitchhiking Across the Country with my White Cane in the early ’70s.

While I regretted to avoid legal action, I removed much of my disclosures on this from the final release, which is available at Amazon as a printed and Kindle book and at audible and iTunes as an audio book. I attended a state-sponsored school here in the States. While I did not hear of much physical abuse during the time I was there, while writing my book, I spoke with students from other schools around the States and in Canada, where physical abuse was much more prevalent. Where I went to school, sex abuse was more than quite common.”

Dave continues, “While I was not personally abused or controlled by adults that way, I was approached, but I always got out of it. I know several children who were not so fortunate. This ranged from male teachers taking advantage of both male and female students to the night watchman who was known to push more than one girl up against the wall and attempt to have his way with them while making his rounds.

One girl I know says she pushed him away and kicked him when none of us wish to be kicked. Another girl who did not push him away had a child shortly after she graduated. She committed suicide soon after that. This night watchman used to show the partially sighted boys pictures of naked women that he carried around in his wallet. He became a minister and was rewarded later in life for his adoption of several foster children. I’ve always wondered what happened to those kids.

One of the teachers, a blind man who was an extremely good teacher and super intelligent, used to stand by his classroom door as students came to class to greet them. He put his arm around girls as they entered the room. One day, he obviously mistakenly put his arm around me and I swatted it away. A girl I knew had partial vision and did her best to duck under his arm.

We all sat around the edges of the room so it meant that one chair was conveniently placed near the teacher’s desk. Obviously, there was always a girl sitting in that chair. Surely, some of the other teachers could see his arm going around these girls as they entered his room, but to the best of my knowledge, no one ever said anything. Another teacher used to invite male students to his house for the weekend. Supposedly, he acted like a father figure, but later actions clearly proved that there was much, much more going on.

Yet another teacher had one of the students come to his room after school hours under the guise of helping with Braille transcription. Additionally, one of the younger house parents was known to fondle the girls and to offer them alcohol on occasion. I never realized how rampant sexual abuse was at the time, but when I started working on my memoir, I was forced to confront these issues and more, much much more.

I appreciate your frank discussion on this. You did an excellent job of bringing it forth as it should be. It takes a lot of courage to open up up like that, and I’m sure you gave it much thought before you did that. Thank you. Of course the other huge issue for many students who were not fortunate to be able to live at home while attending school was the feeling of abandonment that many of us felt, which scarred our lives for years to come. That is one of the main themes of my book. I hope that you will take it up sometime on one of your podcasts.”

Thanks very much for writing in, Dave, and for sharing that. It’s not easy to talk about, but it is important that we talk about it. You’re right. I don’t have firsthand experience of boarding at our school for the blind, but I have talked to people who did and got to understand the scars that they feel, that estrangement from family at such a critical time. When you take a five-year-old or a six-year-old and you send them to another part of the country, or if you’re in a larger country, another part of the state, and you may only see your family three or four times a year, that is a huge range.

I think the issue is though that we have not confronted in many Western countries that it takes a considerable amount of resources to educate blind kids properly. Now there’s this philosophy that says every child has the right to go to their local school. In principle, I agree with that. The trouble is, how do you make that right real? Because it’s not just enough to say that every child has the right to go to their local school. We need to go further and say, every child has the right to maximize their potential, and that’s where at the moment we get stuck.

Certainly in New Zealand, we have a lot of teachers who go from school to school, teaching blind kids and there may only be one blind child at one school and they spend some time there and then they head off in a vehicle and go to visit a child in another school. I’m not criticizing the teachers at all. What I’m saying is that the system is grossly under-resourced. What happens to those students when that teacher isn’t there?

Well, what often happens is that they might get assistance from a teacher aid, but that teacher aid isn’t a teacher and the classroom teacher who’s in front of that blind student is not literate in blindness terms. In other words, they don’t know Braille. I’m concerned that you have a situation now where only the most capable kids or the most blind kids get Braille, because Braille is considered time-consuming and resource-intensive.

Braille is often seen as an inferior solution to print. You do see people who even when the prognosis is that their vision is going to deteriorate further or their vision is not going to improve and they struggle to read the blackboard, they’re not given access to Braille. When they are, the instruction is too sporadic. I’m certainly not hearkening back to the so-called good old days of schools for the blind because I did get a very good education there.

I was trying to make this point when I gave my evidence to the Royal Commission, that it wasn’t all hell for me. It was hell all the time for some people, but it wasn’t for me largely because I was a day student and I was so fortunate. I got a good education and I’ve got a lot to thank them for in that regard. If we are going to send blind kids to local schools, we have to make really sure that the resources are put in place to make sure that that blind child has the chance to thrive and succeed and be literate.

If you’re making that case to people on the left of the spectrum, that’s the moral argument that you make, that everybody has the right to self-actualization and to maximize their potential. If you’re talking to people on the right of the spectrum, it makes economic sense to do it too because if you invest in kids to maximize their potential, to be literate, to be functioning citizens in society, what are they going to do? They’re going to go out, They go to have a chance to be employed. They’re going to pay taxes. They will return that investment, and education is an investment.

The stats are so clear. We know that there’s a rampant unemployment problem in the blind community, but we also know that the unemployment rate among Braille readers is way closer to the national average, way closer. It is a very stark contrast. We’ve got to make sure that the resources are there to give blind kids instruction in Braille quality teaching and literacy. I would welcome others comments on this.

Speaker 1: 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 86460 Mozen. That’s 864-606-6736.

Jonathan: Just a content warning. There is some very strong language at the beginning of this post.

Steve Bauer: Hey, Jonathan. It is Steve Bauer from right in the middle of the US of A in Wichita, Kansas. I have two issues that are driving the [beep] out of me. I’m really tired of messing with him. First, the iPhone, and I am running just the regular iPhone 13 with the latest iOS update. From time to time, when I make certain requests using Siri, it does some weird things. It won’t work. It gives me a message working on it and hang on. It says something went wrong, and it could be even sending a text message, turning Bluetooth on or off, or asking it to identify a song.

Sometimes if I turn voiceover off using the switch on the side and turn it back on it works, other times it won’t. I have to power cycle the phone. Apple says it’s probably because it has to go out to the internet. Well, if they’re looking at my contacts to send a text message, it’s not going to the internet. Now, granted, if it’s going to identify a song, yes, that’s probably going to the internet somewhere. Here’s what it sounds like. I will leave the pauses in there so you get the full effect.

Siri: One sec. [silence] Still on it. [silence] Something went wrong. Please try again.

Steve: Rather irritating. The other thing is that notifications are really funky on this phone. Sometimes I don’t get text notifications when messages come in, other times it’s delayed until I do something on the phone. All of a sudden, I get text message notifications, weather alerts, breaking news stories, different things like that. They all crash in at the same time. Sometimes a long time, half hour, 45 minutes, an hour or two after they actually came to my phone. I have no idea why all this is wrong.

Apple says all of my settings are correct, and it should be working fine. It’s not. The other thing is Sonos. They have really irritated me. I’ve got a Sonos Beam in my living room and the S One speaker’s in the bedroom. If I ask the A lady to play, say, a radio station, mushroom FM, or whatever, when I’m ready to stop, if it’s going through the tune-in app, it won’t stop. It just keeps playing no matter what I say. I say stop or quit or shut down or shut up, whatever, it won’t stop playing the music. I have to load Pandora or maybe Sirius XM or something like that, and let that start playing. Then I can stop it.

I do not have this problem with Echo devices, the Echo Dot or the Echo Tap works perfect. I can tell it’s a stop and it does. Sonos refuses to give me the option to have a different wake word on the devices, which I think is really a mistake. I’m at the point now where I’m thinking about adding another smart speaker to one of my rooms, and I’m not so sure it’s going to be Sonos because they refuse to do something simple and offer a different wake word. Now, if anybody has any ideas, I’m all ears. Thanks, Jonathan.

Jonathan: It must be really seriously bagging you, Steve, if you resort to such language that it’s driving the [beep] out of you, but we are brothers on this one, if it’s any consolation, Steve, because I can reproduce every single thing that you are talking about. First of all, the Siri thing, and I have to say, I’m just running a lowly iPhone 12 Pro Max because I didn’t feel compelled to upgrade to iPhone 13, but I’ve seen this. It actually feels like Siri’s getting worse lately.

I’ve had the working on it, on it, and then eventually something went wrong for a wee while now, but something that’s crept in lately is that it seems to be misunderstanding me more. It reminds me of me. It’s like it’s developed a hearing impairment lately, and you tell it to open apps and do things with Siri shortcuts and things that have worked perfectly fine before. All of a sudden they’re not, and it’s mishearing me. I have no idea why that is. I would’ve thought, well, maybe it’s the microphones in my decrepit, ancient iPhone 12 Pro Max, except that other people are saying the same thing.

Brian Williams is tweeting in. He’s saying that he’s found that Siri is misunderstanding him more as well. Siri really is, of all the personal assistants, still the most unreliable and the most mediocre. You ask it a simple question, it tells you it’s found something on the web and take a look, that’s if it’s understood you at all. There just seems like so much work to be done with Siri. It’s a shame because they’ve squandered that advantage that they had when they launched Siri in 2011. People were so excited about it. We did a feature on the 10th anniversary of Siri’s launch, where we talked about, has Siri evolved at the speed that you expected it to evolve?

I just don’t think it has. It’s really been a big disappointment and the soup drinker and Google Home have eaten Siri’s lunch well and truly. I can also reproduce your notifications issue. Here’s my use case, and it could be similar to yours. I do not like my phone auto-locking. One of the first things I do if I have to customize an iPhone, if for some reason I’ve reset all my settings and I’m setting up an iPhone is new, one of the first things I do is I go and I turn my auto lock completely off.

The phone doesn’t lock unless I tap the power button. Then when I’m in the office, be it here at my home office or at my work office, I lie the phone on the desk. The phone is connected to an external source, and maybe that’s relevant. It could be my mixer. It could be a PodTrak P4, some sort of external source. I’m just sitting there with the phone on the home screen. If there are any notifications, I should hear them instantly. Usually, I do, but every so often I go through these long periods of silence where I just don’t hear anything from my phone. Suddenly, I realize that an hour, an hour and a half may have gone by, and I think, well, my phone’s got quiet.

Then I do the home gesture. All I have to do is flick up and do the home gesture, even though I’m on the home screen. All of a sudden, everything breaks loose. Like you say, you get this big diarrhea of notifications. I mean, that’s what it’s like. You just have notifications spewing out from everywhere because they’ve been pent up somehow and you get this massive amount of notifications all coming through at once and they’re pinging and they’re interrupting each other and you eventually get caught up.

Now, that actually can be quite a serious thing. If you are waiting for an important text message from someone and suddenly this notification comes through and you realize that you got the notification about 45 minutes ago, but it’s only because you’ve executed the home gesture that the notification has come in. I don’t think this is a voiceover problem because on some Apple publications, I have seen references to this as well, but I don’t know whether there’s any way to fix it.

In fact, I think I saw a reference to the fact that Apple thought they had fixed this a while ago, but it certainly isn’t fixed for me. Now I’ve gotten into the habit of performing the home gesture every so often, even when I don’t need to, just to get my phone out of this state. It is not good if you can’t rely on your notifications in that way.

Yes, I can also reproduce your Sonos issue, but there are workarounds for that that are pretty easy. One is that you can install the Sonos app, which is a great app and gives you so much access. What I find is if I go in there and the room is selected, and if you’ve only got a Beam, then you’ll only ever have your Beam selected, just go into the Sonos app and perform a two-finger double tap, and that will stop it.

That doesn’t mean to say that the soup drinker issue shouldn’t be fixed, it should be fixed. That’s only happened fairly recently for me, that that issue has started to happen. The other thing is too that because you have a Beam, the HEY Sonos should now be working. You can say HEY Sonos and then issue a stop command. I believe that will work as well. There are a couple of workarounds potentially for that. I would be interested to hear what others have to say about your irritants, because I share all of them, Steve, which is why in this particular instance, I think the expletive, the S word that you used was appropriate.

Here’s a handy, wee JAWS tip from Mohammed who says, “Hi, Jonathan. In Episode 189, you read out an email containing a question about JAWS announcement of key presses. This person stated that she doesn’t use the standard QWERTY layout on the keyboard but a more ergonomic one. She might try to enable the unified keyboard processing sitting in drawers. The setting is not enabled by default, but if she turns it on in Settings Center, she might get better results.”

It was Ann who had this issue, so Ann, here’s the step by step from the source, from the source no less. You press Insert and the number six on your number row to get into Settings Center. Alternatively, you can open Settings Center by pressing the JAWS key with F2 and press S until you hear settings center. Then you press Enter. Next, press Ctrl Shift D to make sure you’re in the default settings section.

Three, in the search bar, type ‘unified,’ press down arrow once. You should find the use unified keyboard processing setting. This is a checkbox, make sure it’s checked. Press Enter and Mohammed says you should be golden, golden I tell you. “I seem to remember,” he says, “that the lady asking the question speaks German. I don’t know what the setting is called in German, unfortunately. I hope this helps.” Thank you, Mohammed, really appreciate that. I should have thought of that. I do find that when I turn on the unified keyboard processing, weird things can sometimes happen.

If you enable the setting, and you find that things aren’t behaving like they used to in a negative way, it might be worth just remembering what you did. This is actually a very good feature in Settings Center. You can go and look at the last settings that you changed. There’s a history there. If JAWS is not behaving the way you want, you can go through and look at what did I recently change, so you can go through an unchange those things.

[music]

Singers: Mosen At Large podcast.

Jonathan: “Hey, Jonathan. It’s Dawn from Ohio. I hope you’re doing well and staying cool and dry in New Zealand. Over here in Ohio, it’s been hot and humid in my area. Although we did get some rain last weekend. First, big congratulations, you and Bonnie, on becoming grandparents.” Thank you so much, Dawn. It’s super exciting. “Also, congratulations go out to your kids on becoming an auntie and uncle.” Yes, this is going to be new for Nicola and Richard. Heidi is already an auntie because she married Henry, the wonder son-in-law, and Henry comes from a large family, one of whom already has children. Heidi’s in the anti-groove already.

“I have two nieces,” says Dawn, “and I can tell you that being an auntie is one of the greatest blessings.” It sure is. I mean, I haven’t been auntie. I just have to say. I have been an uncle though. I have got spotty nephew to put up with, unfortunately, but other than that, being an uncle’s all right, really. [chuckles] While I don’t get to see my nieces often, I enjoy spoiling them rotten because as an uncle or auntie, that’s what you’re supposed to do, quite right too.

As for resources for getting Braille with an uppercase B, I’m not sure if this is available in New Zealand, but I thought I’d mention it all the same. Braille Institute issues a catalog four times a year, if memory serves me right. One of the sections in there is called dots for dots, which has books and activities for children all the way up to I think age six. It’s free of charge and you get a book and a kit with an activity for that book. It’s in print and uncontracted Braille, so the child can read with you. I got two kits for my youngest niece of the time, and she absolutely loved them, as did my brother and sister-in-law.

“You have been to the Braille Institute, Dawn. They do some great work and of course they keep doing the Braille challenge. It’s so important to make sure that our youngsters are encouraged to read their Braille. It sets them up for employment and literacy, and lots of good things, and I’m pretty sure it was at the Braille Institute that’s published that anthology called Expectations.

I think we may have talked about this on this show or the Mosen explosion before. Expectations was cool and we used to get them every year at the school for the blind in New Zealand and we’d be so excited when the big shipment of Expectations came and each student got a copy of it and you know what we would do? You will know what we would do if you’ve ever read Expectations.

The first thing we did was we would open the book, we’d find the middle of the publication because on that page was six things they called sniffables. This is the scratch and sniff thing. Actually, we did have quite a few scratch and sniff books at the school for the blind, and you would scratch these things and get the aroma. Of course, if you did it too much the smell eventually went away, but you have the scratch and sniff page and then I think at the back of the book, they gave you the answers to see if you could get the answers correctly, and there was some good stories, but we wanted it for the sniffables. [laughs]

“Now on to my question, says Dawn. “I’ve been waiting for an appropriate time to ask this question and finally, I just decided to ask.” Absolutely, Dawn. Anytime is a good time to write into Mosen At Large, I hope. “I was wondering if you or your listeners had any recommendations for accessible mood tracker apps for iOS. I’ve been on the hunt for one for a while now because recent events in my life over the last couple of years have encouraged me to make my mental health more of a number one priority, and everything I found is either completely inaccessible, or you need to use so many workarounds that it defeats the purpose of the app.”

Yes, because if it’s so inaccessible that it’s difficult to use, you don’t need a mood tracker to know that it’s making you grumpy. “I’ve asked,” says Dawn, “around various places, but no one has had any answers. You and your listeners seem to always be able to answer the tough questions. Therefore, I’m reaching out to you all. Thank you very much for any and all help and recommendations.”

Well, thank you, Dawn. I’m going to be of no help. I’ve not explored the whole genre of mood tracking apps, which is interesting, because health of all kinds is something I’ve got quite obsessed with over the last few years but I haven’t looked at this. First of all, obviously, you’ve been on a bit of a journey over the last couple of years. I’m sorry to hear that. It sounds like you’ve been through some tough times, but congratulations on choosing to take control. That sounds like a very positive thing that you’re doing there.

I hope that somebody can help us. What is a mood tracker app? Do you record when you’re feeling certain ways? What’s the purpose of doing that? I guess it would be you learn what your triggers are? Is that right? I need to research the whole mood tracker genre, because it’s not something I’ve thought about. Can anyone help? Dawn has set the bar high. She says the Mosen At Large audience can always answer the tough questions. Can you help with this one? Get in touch 86460 Mosen on the phone in the United States, 864-606-6736, or record something or email and send it in to jonathan@mushroomfm.com.

It’s always good to be able to bring you some positive accessibility news and Scott Davert is doing that. He says, “Hi, Jonathan. I just wanted to write in and share the good news that the myPhonak app for iOS and Android has become fully accessible to voiceover and talkback users. I’m able to change programs, control the volume of each hearing aid individually, and access more programs than what I have available on the hearing aids themselves.

To my knowledge, this is the first hearing aid manufacturer that makes an app which does not have a feature that is inaccessible. I’d like to thank all of those who have provided feedback to Phonak concerning the lack of accessibility in previous versions. I’m very grateful to Phonak for making the iOS app accessible, but sad that other hearing aid manufacturers don’t understand the value in doing so. All that said, it’s a good day for myPhonak paradise hearing aids, iPhone, and I. Keep up the good work, Jonathan.”

Thanks, Scott, that’s great to hear. I’m not aware of any features in my Oticon app that aren’t accessible. I can manage the little EQ that it’s got, I can change programs, and it’s even got IFTTT support, and all of it’s accessible to the best of my knowledge, but it’s great that Phonak are there as well. The more hearing aid manufacturers we can get there, the better.

Joe says, “Hi, Jonathan. I am writing in about the AutoCorrect feature in place when using Microsoft Word with JAWS. Simply, I think the feature is terrible. So many times it indicates the word is misspelled but doesn’t correct it and it doesn’t correct it when my typing of the word is quite close to the correct spelling. Also, sometimes JAWS doesn’t indicate that the word is misspelled even though it is.

Does the spell correct feature reside with JAWS or with Microsoft Word? Is there any way to upgrade the AutoCorrect feature to something more powerful and more reliable? I know that I can run a spell check, which would probably pick up these kinds of spelling errors, but that is another step to go through. It would be great if the corrections were done as you go. It would just be more efficient that way.”

Well, Joe, I have found that when I misspell a word in Microsoft Word, JAWS makes a sound. Word identifies the misspelling and what’s happening on the screen is that there’s a little wiggly line under the word telling you that it is misspelled. If I type a misspelling, JAWS immediately makes a sound to tell me that I’ve typed a misspelling.

Sometimes I’ll go back and correct it, sometimes Word corrects itself and that is a Microsoft Word feature. There are features that determine the AutoCorrect features in Word. It may be that you’ve got some of them potentially turned off, but quite a bit of the time, if I’m close, if I’ve just made a wee typo or something, AutoCorrect does kick in for me and correct the word, but nothing really takes the place of putting a document through a spell check. I don’t think there’s really any avoiding that. You can do that in a couple of ways.

The new editor, that’s what they call it. The Microsoft editor that pops up in Microsoft Word, and it’s now also in Microsoft Outlook is horrible in my view. I find it quite sluggish on a lot of machines. It’s really unwieldy. It’s really cumbersome. I just can’t stand it. I wish I could get the old spell checker dialogue back that was so much quicker and so much simpler, but you can press F7 and take yourself through that if you want to.

You can also press Insert with Z to get into the navigation quick key mode, and then you can press the letter M for Mike and the M is actually also for misspelled. Every time you press it at M when you’re in that navigation quick key mode, it will put focus on the next misspelled word. You can bring up the context menu with the application key or Shift F10, and make a selection from there to correct the word. There are a couple of things that you can do in Microsoft Word to quickly go through spelling errors.

[music]

Singers: Mosen At Large podcast.

Jonathan: We’ve talked on the podcast in the past about the need for accessible remote incident solutions. This is not just about helping people out with tech problems in your family or in your circle of friends, although that’s a legitimate use case, but it could also open up all sorts of vocational prospects as well. We’ve known for a while, and I mentioned very recently, that Pneuma Solutions–

I’m sorry, I reverted to habit when I mentioned RIM most recently on the podcast and said Serotek, but old habits die hard. Pneuma Solutions have been working on a new version of RIM for some time, remote incident manager. To tell us about this, because I think it really is a significant development, we’re joined once again by Mike Calvo and Matt Campbell. Welcome to you both. Who’d like to start us off on just telling me a little bit about RIM? Give me the elevator pitch.

Mike Calvo: Hello, Jonathan, and hello, everybody. Basically, RIM started its journey many, many years ago in 2007. The latest version is all cloud-based. It’s all shiny and new. I’ve been busy, but I’m about to get a lot busier now that we’ve got it to public beta. More about that, but the guy who’s been busy is Matt. Let me let Matt tell you all about what the new RIM has in store.

Matt Campbell: Sure. At the start of the year, when we were thinking about what we wanted to do next, we decided that we would go back to one of our products from our time as Serotek that hadn’t gotten much love in a while. When we last did significant work on remote incident manager, Windows XP was still actively being used, Windows 10 wasn’t a thing yet. The technology for things like sending audio over the internet and making direct peer-to-peer connections between two machines wasn’t anywhere near as mature as it is now.

We decided that it was time to completely reimagine what RIM could be. To back up a bit for those that aren’t familiar with RIM in the first place, it’s remote desktop access, similar to TeamViewer, or LogMeIn, or products of that sort, but fully accessible on both sides for both sighted and blind users. One use case that we are particularly focused on in RIM is the case where a blind technician or trainer is supporting a sighted user. The blind person obviously needs to have accessibility through speech or Braille or both, but the sighted user, A, they shouldn’t have to install a screen reader on their machine, and B, they shouldn’t have to hear that speech output.

We do that through our own custom add-on for the NVDA screen reader. In that particular use case, we are working exclusively with NVDA, but another use case, of course, that’s very important is both blind and sighted technicians and trainers supporting blind people. In that case, RIM works regardless of what screen reader or self-voicing applications such as GuideConnect or Kurzweil or any of those, the blind person might be running on their machine. The way we do that is by sending all audio output from the default audio device on the remote machine across the connection. That is one of our major distinguishing features in RIM.

Jonathan: Obviously, the overwhelming majority of blind people in a workplace environment are using JAWS. I take it that there is some sort of technical limitation preventing that kind of service working in JAWS.

Matt: Yes, there is a technical limitation that prevents us from doing that without working directly with Vispero. The problem there is that for the use case, we were just talking about where the blind person providing support is running a screen reader, but the sighted end user is not. We need to send text-to-speech output commands across the remote connection and send those commands to the screen reader on the local machine.

While JAWS provides a very simplistic way of doing that, it’s not full-featured enough for things like continuous reading where the cursor follows the speech, but we are able to do that with our add-on for NVDA. Now, we would be open to working with Vispero on a solution for that, because as you said, Jonathan, we know that JAWS is widely used in the workplace, but for now we are just doing it with NVDA because that is what enabled us to develop this solution independently.

Mike: I want to be clear. It doesn’t mean that we don’t work in work environments that are using JAWS. It just has to do with, so for example, if you’re working on the remote side and you’re working with somebody and you want to navigate their machine either, you got to bring up JAWS on their machine, if they have it, or you’re going to end up using the NVDA equivalent on the controller side of the experience. I think the big thing though is here with RIM is we’re going after both sighted and the visually impaired market.

Our feature set is as compelling as a TeamViewer or that kind of a solution. Many sighted folks have played with the solution thus far. It works for them just like the others do. At this point, we could actually say to a company, “Hey, you have an IT department here. We are right now that I know of, we are the only accessible remote solution that works for both sighted and visually impaired IT professionals working side by side. Our pricing points are competitive.”

Why not? It’s time to kind of get out of just our small space here and say, “You know what? We are a company that we’re blind-owned, blind-run. We make stuff that really works good for blind people.” Amazingly, it happens to work for sighted people too. Isn’t it funny how it’s usually the other way around, but in this particular case, our solution can work side by side for sighted people and blind people to work in the same work environment?

Jonathan: Obviously, for this to be successful, it’s got to be easy to download, easy to install. It looks like you have spent quite a bit of time on thinking about that user experience, because if somebody is not that tech-savvy, they want somebody to help them, actually getting RIM on the PC in the first place may even be a challenge.

Mike: Well, we have two ways of dealing with that. Of course, like you said, it’s very easy to get the application installed. The cool thing is, of course, even if you’re going to use the application repeatedly, in other words, you got your PC guy. Your PC guy or gal goes and gets this piece of software installed on your machine. Now, whether you do it or you have that person install it for you, once you bring up RIM, the experience is just type in a keyword on the target side or the user side that the technician and you agree on. Once you do that and you hit enter, that’s it. The technician is on your machine and you can even set up times for that technician to go on your machine when you’re not around and do their utility work or whatever at night.

The other way, of course, is that for software that requires remote support and they don’t have a built-in solution, we are actually offering a library that can be embedded in other software so that they can provide this really easy, accessible support as well. The big thing is with all of the other guys, you’ve got to kind of put in this username and a password and this and that. Here you put in a word that you and me agree on. It could be one letter, that’s it. Hopefully it’s–

Matt: I think that probably won’t last long if usage increases. One letter.

Mike: Yes and no, because if you think about it, the word is in existence between you and me, or the letter, for a couple seconds. That’s it. Once we use it, it goes back into the pool again. Even if you have thousands of people using the system at a time, the chances of our words crashing into each other are pretty minimal because they’re in existence for such little time.

Matt: To clarify the way it works, the controller, meaning the technician or trainer or whatever, enters the keyword first on their end and RIM tells them if it’s already taken, but they enter it first to reserve that keyword, and then they tell the end user to enter it. I also wanted to clarify, Mike was talking about the embedded use case for other software vendors. We are thinking in particular about programs such as GuideConnect that want to offer a built-in remote support option. GuideConnect currently uses TeamViewer, but they could either include in the package or download on demand RIM instead, and provide an even easier user experience for remote support.

Jonathan: When do those keywords expire? For example, I set up a remote session with my daughter, Heidi, to test this out with RIM. I set up a keyword, which is a really simple keyword actually. It’s a name of a fruit. [chuckles] How long is that good for. If we connected again a week after, does that keyword still work?

Mike: No, it’s gone. It’s gone the moment you use it.

Matt: It’s gone the moment you use it. We’re currently working on a feature for unattended sessions where Heidi could give you permission to connect to her machine either anytime or at specific times. In that case, you wouldn’t use a keyword. You would have a list of machines that you are allowed to access unattended, and you could choose her machine from a list. For the standard interactive use case where both sides enter a keyword, the keyword is invalidated as soon as both sides enter it. You could of course use the same keyword next time, assuming nobody else has taken it.

Jonathan: The unattended thing is a really important use case, I think. For example, I’m getting ready to take this big trip away. I know that I will need to just keep track of the mushroom FM PC when I’m in Europe. I log into my personal VPN, which has all sorts of encryption. Then I use remote desktop. I don’t particularly enjoy the remote desktop experience very much, but it works brilliantly with JAWS and I can get stuff done. Once you get this unattended session feature, do you see advantages of using RIM instead of remote desktop?

Matt: Yes. My last several months at Microsoft during the pandemic, all of us remoted into our office PCs over RDP. As I’m sure you know, Jonathan, if you need to listen to audio from the remote machine over RDP, it’s not very high quality, it’s laggy. Now of course, with JAWS, JAWS has a special support for RDP where it can directly send the speech synthesis commands over the connection and have it synthesized locally.

With RIM, you can hear exactly what audio is being played on the mushroom pot machine, at least on the default sound card. Also with RIM, you were talking about connecting to your VPN and then doing RDP. With RIM, as long as the mushroom pot machine is connected to the internet, you can connect to it, and usually that connection will be peer-to-peer, and the connection is end-to-end encrypted so it’s secure.

Jonathan: Yes. Obviously, I wouldn’t want to expose the remote desktop protocol port to the world, which is why I use a VPN because there are all sorts of body bots scanning for those sorts of open ports, ready to make mischief. That’s interesting. Let’s talk about latency if we could. One of the things that is definitely an issue, in this part of the world at least, with JAWS Tandem, for example, is the lag. It’s noticeably laggy. If you have the more advanced version of JAWS Tandem, that does offer a direct connection. Tandem direct, it’s called. What’s latency like with RIM?

Matt: As I said, RIM makes the connection peer-to-peer whenever it can. The initial coordination of the connection where both sides enter the keyword, and then they negotiate the method of connection with each other, that step is done through a central cloud service in the US. Once that negotiation is done, RIM connects peer-to-peer whenever the network configurations on both ends allow it.

Now, that doesn’t require any ports to be open, but it does require the firewalls and routers to support certain conventions around allowing the two ends to connect to each other using the protocol called UDP. I won’t get any more into it than that. If the peer-to-peer connection doesn’t succeed, then we have several relay servers located around the world, and RIM will use the closest one. We have relays in Virginia and the US, Los Angeles, Toronto, Canada, London, Warsaw, Poland, Bangalore, India, Singapore, Sydney, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Jonathan: It will just based on your IP address, work out which is the best server to use?

Matt: Yes.

Mike: Remember, Jonathan, a majority of our signals go peer-to-peer. If you’re supporting someone, for example, in New Zealand and you can get the peer-to-peer, then you’re going to get New Zealand, but if you don’t, and we do need to go to a relay, instead of your packets going all the way back to St. Petersburg and then all the way back to New Zealand, they just go to Sydney. Number one, we have no way of getting in on your sessions. Your sessions are encrypted and totally private. Number two, we are seeing just double-digit ping results and latency-

Matt: Milliseconds.

Mike: -in milliseconds from most sessions, which is pretty darn amazing.

Jonathan: What’s the pricing structure for RIM?

Mike: I’m glad you asked. Before I even get started, I just want to say how excited I am about what Pneuma has done. What Pneuma’s doing is we’re providing enterprise-level solutions. All of our cloud solutions are enterprise-level technology. We are providing them in enterprise packaging, which is the way that a lot of the stuff should be paid for, because it’s used in professional settings. We’re not stopping there and pricing it out of the way of just mainstream consumers, because we believe as blind people ourselves, these are really important tools for us to have in our own toolboxes.

For example, with RIM, let’s start with the consumer, with your situation. For example, you’re this guy, you’re going on vacation, you’ve got a few machines. We are going to be doing a package. This is after public beta. Right now we’ve got public beta going, and it’s probably going to go about till September 1st. At that point, then the meter will go on, as they say, and we’ll start charging people. For now, you can use the system all you want, anybody any way they want for free.

That being said, so for a situation like yours, Jonathan, where you have a couple of different machines maybe, that’s $25 a month or $250 a year for up to three machines, three what we call targets, and one controller. You can change those targets a few times a year. Obviously, we don’t want some enterprising person to go and just switch machines around and duck out of the pro package. Basically, that would be either $250 a year or $25 a month.

Jonathan: Let’s say that you convince Aira to use this, which is actually an interesting question. At the moment, what I often do is call Aira and I start a TeamViewer session with them, and I have an agent assist me through some sort of inaccessible process. It seems to me that getting Aira on board and embracing RIM would be quite a win. If I’m just an end user who wants other people to take control, presumably it is free to do that?

Mike: Yes. It is free for you to install it on your machine, whether you’re a user or not. It’s free to install, and then it’s just sitting there and you can wait. When you’re ready to, you just click a button and type in your keyword and go. The people that provide services are the ones that pay, not the people who use services. You know what I’m saying? Who use support. Which brings me, of course, to the people who provide support, your friendly neighborhood IT guy or girl who provides not only support to blind people, training them with JAWS and audio technology and all kinds of good stuff.

We were doing some testing with the ElBraille and having some fun with that during our our beta test cycle. That particular package is $99 a month or $999 a year for one technician. He can have as many targets or as many customers that he wants to, or she wants to access. It’s just what we call one channel of service. Very similar to a phone line. You got one channel, and that’s the way in fact we price enterprises, by the number of channels, not by the number of installed seats that they have. That makes sense.

Jonathan: I know that Brian Hartgen has been talking very positively about RIM and the new version. I think we will see this being embraced in the blind community. It’s going to be a hard slog to try and get cut-through into the mainstream market. It definitely sounds like there’s a product there that has mainstream potential.

Mike: I think so. I think it’s hard. I don’t think it’s going to be hard just because we’re breaking into the mainstream. I just think it’s a very difficult time in general for businesses to really see where things are going. It’s a time, obviously, Matt and I as technologists are trying to recreate ourselves in that we’re doing technology that fits today. It’s yesterday’s technology idea but packaged for today’s marketplace. That includes some mainstream components, of course.

I think that it’s just an interesting business world out there. I say that to preface that, folks, we need you, we need your support. We need our community to do what we all used to do way back when and, I feel an old song coming on, but I won’t do it, I promise. Where we would really help each other to advocate. Jonathan, I applaud what you do every week. I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know if you have a clone brother somewhere or whatever.

Jonathan: I’m uploaded to the cloud, dude.

Mike: I have no idea, but it’s amazing. I thank you for what you and the community does, and we need more of that. We need more participation. Use the technology. Yes, it’s great when companies buy this technology for us. It’s great when screen readers became free or darn near close to free. Before that, that didn’t stop us from going out and obtaining a screen reader and using it.

As a company, we want to ultimately help the enterprise provide these services for free or very close to it to their customers, because I think it’s the right thing for them to do. I think it’s inclusive for their customers to be thought of and embraced in that way when being supported whether it be technical support or documentation or meetings, whatever they are.

That doesn’t stop us as individuals to have that and say, “You know, that’s a great product for you guys, but I just happen to have a personal version right here that I can use today.” Please do try the technology and then let us know. We want to know your experience and you know what, if it’s too expensive, let us know. At the end of the day, we’re here to serve our community and we’re blind first. We’re not going to do something that is going to cripple our community financially from having access to a product that’s going to liberate us as a community technically.

Jonathan: Now, I’ll tell you what I want. What I really, really want. One of the things I find I have to do, and I don’t mind it because I’ve got this really cute light ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but sometimes when I’m taking a trip overnight, I take my laptop specifically just in case I have to do some maintenance on the mushroom FM PC. Otherwise, I just take my cell phone and my Mantis and I’d be up and running. Will there ever be a way to get into a PC using RIM from my iPhone?

Matt: It’s certainly on our wish list. I don’t know when we will be able to get to it. [crosstalk]

Mike: It’s more than that though. He’s being cagey, people. No, it is more than on our wish list. It’s on our roadmap, but the reality is that there’s only one of him and while it’s possible technically, this is where I say, “Hey, the more you buy, the more people we can hire to work on this stuff.” That’s really what it comes down to. Yes, unlike before, there’s absolutely no reason, Jonathan, why you shouldn’t be able to do that in an accessible way.

Jonathan: That would be quite impactful. Obviously, there are some key mapping issues, I presume, and various things of that nature, but they’re not insurmountable, I wouldn’t have thought.

Mike: Yes. When you talk about that, you’re talking about, for example, for Mac as well. Supporting people on Macs is great and that is something that’s probably being real honest. Mac support is probably ahead of cell phone support when we do release it, but I don’t know when.

Jonathan: This is Windows for now?

Mike: Yes, it is Windows for now.

Jonathan: That’s an important point. How can people kick the tires and give this a go and then give you feedback? Because that’s what the testing process is all about, right? You want people to find [crosstalk]

Mike: Absolutely. We want you guys to pound the heck out of this thing, use it. Support your grandma, support your kids, support your cat and dog, whoever. Go to RIMS on getrim.

Matt: Support people and corporate environments, so we can tell whether the relays actually get used.

Mike: If you go to getrim, G-E-T-R-I-M, .app, A-P-P, getrim.app, there you will find all the information you need. All you need to do is read the little blurb on the page so you can know what you’re doing and know where you’re at, download and install the software. It will lead you from that moment. It will lead you down the primrose path of accessibility.

Jonathan: It is pretty easy to do. When Heidi and I had to play with this, I said, “Oh, Mike and Matt are at it again and we’ve got to test this thing.” It was very, very easy to get going. That’s so important in a product like this. It’s a good user experience. It comes up in a webpage environment when you run the app.

Mike: Yes. It is based on Electron which is Matt’s favorite development environment. [crosstalk]

Matt: That’s basically embedded chromium engine. It’s all [crosstalk]

Mike: It’s a love-hate relationship between Matt and and Electron. Seriously though, the product is solid. I think that its ease of use and the fact that we focus on the usability for a person with a disability. I can see a day where the client is voice enabled. A person that does not have use of their hands can wake it up. How does that work? If you could be notified and just say, “Yes, open the connection for the technician,” or whatever.

Or even if you could get somebody like in Aira to go on your machine and do some stuff for you, because I’m sure that folks that are going hands free on their computer have spots where they don’t have access and like we need the eyeballs every once in a while, they need a helping hand. No pun intended, people. I can see this technology really growing into what a remote support system is supposed to do for everybody, including people with disabilities.

Jonathan: Just clarifying the point. If I go in with JAWS, or for that matter, Narrator, and there’s another JAWS/Narrator user. In fact, it can be either/or, I could be running JAWS and the other person could be running Narrator. I will hear their speech, all that kind of thing. As long as everything’s coming through the primary sound device for now. Correct?

Matt: That’s correct.

Mike: For now, we hear you, Reaper peepers. I’m a Reaper user myself. Absolutely love it. It is a learning curve, like you said the other day, but I’ve learned to love it, but we will be dealing with that multiple sound card issue very soon. Again, we expect to have a lot of this stuff hammered out by release, but definitely within the first couple of weeks of release. Like I said, we’re releasing on September 1st. You’re going to get email from us if you set up.

We are going to be active with you guys in your testing. We’re going to reach out to you. We’re going to ask you to give us information. We’re going to try and pitch you to buy it. Don’t be surprised if you sign up and we send you an email. We’re not going to sell your email. We’re not going to do anything, but we are definitely going to find out what your reaction is. It’s the only way that there is to do that.

Jonathan: When you’re testing a product, you do expect engagement with the developers because that’s what testing’s about. It’s a commitment.

Mike: Oh, you’d be surprised how angry, “Why are you calling me? I’m just–”

Jonathan: [laughs] Very good. All right. Well, thank you both very much for coming on. I look forward to seeing how this develops and I think the library in particular is quite exciting because you never know where RIM might be popping up, particularly in the first instance, blindness-related apps, in the near future. Congrats on what you’ve done so far and we’ll follow up with interest.

Mike: Thanks. Have a great vacation.

Jonathan: I intend to.

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Jonathan: Since recording that interview with Mike and Matt, they have announced that they are going to offer 30 minutes of RIM access free per day, which I think is incredibly generous. That should meet many people’s needs who just need casual assistance.

Christopher Wright has been trying RIM and he says, “Hi, Jonathan. I nearly cried the first time I tried Remote Incident Manager. This is a fantastic product that has the potential to open all kinds of opportunities. As long as the price is reasonable, I’ll subscribe in order to support this amazing work. The ability to control other computers that don’t have screen readers installed is a major game changer. It’s sad this came from a small company like Pneuma Solutions rather than entities like Microsoft who have more than enough resources to pull this off, but I’m glad this is an option. If only it had been around many years ago.”

Well, Christopher I’m glad you’re happy with it. I think this is yet another example of blind people taking control of our own destinies and devising solutions to solve real problems that we have with technology. I’ve been having a play with RIM from Pneuma Solutions over the last few weeks. The more I’ve used it, the more blown away I’ve become by how powerful this thing really is. I hope that it gains a lot of traction, not just in the blind community, but also in the mainstream.

Remember, you can download this, and kick the tires for free while it’s in the beta period right now. To do that, you go to getrim.app. That’s G-E-T-R-I-M.APP. You’ll download a file that’s about 50 odd megabytes, run that file. It will install RIM, then you’ll be invited, if you just need remote assistance, to press the button to get it. It’s that simple.

If you want to be a controller and remote into other people’s computers, there is a sign-in process. You will need to create an account if it’s the first computer on which you are using RIM, and you enter your email address. You then receive an email with a code. This is a new form of authentication that’s becoming increasingly popular now. For applications like this, it works really well.

Once you’ve got your account, you can also associate your cell phone with the account. When you add subsequent computers as a controller, you’ll get a text message to authenticate. When I install RIM on other people’s machines who I want to assist, what I’ve taken to do is assigning Control + Alt + R to the desktop shortcut. I hope that Pneuma Solutions actually adds this by default, because we are talking about people who may be challenged when it comes to technology. If you can just tell them to press Control + Alt + R, then they can get into RIM. Of course, that doesn’t preclude them from finding the RIM icon on the desktop, if they want to do it that way. Then you’re take into an edit field where you type in the keywords, so it’s very simple.

Now let’s explore some scenarios that I think are quite common use cases for RIM. The first one is perhaps the most exciting, and that is controlling a sighted person’s computer without a screen reader running on the sighted person’s side.

As you heard during the interview with Mike and Matt, at this stage, this only works with NVDA. I have NVDA running, and I have tried this before recording. The first time I tried it, I was invited to install the add-on, which makes this kind of remote access possible. It was a very simple case of just accepting the permission. The add-on was downloaded and installed. Totally seamless, very simple to do. Now that I’ve done that with NVDA running, I’m going to press Control + Alt + R which is the shortcut that I have set up for RIM.

Automated Voice: Task bar. Remote Incident Manager. Provide remote help document. Main landmark. Table. Keyword. Editor one blank.

Jonathan: Because the last time I used RIM I was the controller, and I’m already logged in, I’m taken to the screen where I can type in a keyword, which I can then give to someone to control their computer. If I tab around the screen, we’ll see what else is here.

Automated Voice: Start voice conversation checkbox not checked.

Jonathan: I’m going to check this box because it means that, while we have a RIM session going, I can talk to the person whose PC I’m controlling. This is great not just for having a conversation when you’re troubleshooting something technical, but it also makes it ideal for tutorial sessions. If you’re giving one-on-one support to someone teaching them technology. I’ll check this box.

Automated Voice: Checked.

Jonathan: As well here. The quality of the VOIP is very good. It’s very similar to Zoom.

Automated Voice: Start button.

Jonathan: There’s a start button, but I’ll keep tabbing.

A1: Start an unattended session instead button.

Jonathan: We’re going to look at using an unattended session a little bit later when we investigate controlling the Mushroom pot Computer using RIM. I’ll Tab.

A1: Receive Help Instead button.

Jonathan: I can switch this so that I’m receiving help instead. If I do that, we’ll get a different screen and I will be invited to enter a keyword that has been provided by someone so that they can control my computer. I’ll press Tab.

Automated Voice: Log Out button.

Jonathan: We can log out of the session. Tab again.

Automated Voice: Cancel button. Main landmark.

Jonathan: Tab one more time.

Automated Voice: Table. Keyword. Edit your own word blank.

Jonathan: I’m now back to the field where I can type in a keyword. This can be anything. I can make this up. I’m going to type banana one, because I’m going to control Heidi’s computer. If you’ve been listening to the Mosen explosion over the years, you’ll know that I have four children, and I call them the bananas, one banana, two banana three banana, four, and she is banana number one. I have typed in the keyword ‘banana one’ and I’m going to press Enter.

Automated Voice: Sending request. Please wait. Waiting for the other user to answer the keyword. Remote Incident Manager. Provide remote help document selected.

Jonathan: I’m now going to pause the recording, and I’m going to send Heidi a text message inviting her to run the RIM application, and when she’s asked to type in a keyword type banana one. She will press the Start button, and all being well, we’ll get the connection established, and we’ll have a voice channel where we can hear each other. I paused my recording, I sent the text, she acknowledged receipt of the text. Now we will wait to have her log in for the remote session. She’s going to enter ‘banana one’ on her computer.

Automated Voice: Remote session. No screen readers running on the remote machine.

Heidi: Hello?

Jonathan: Welcome.

Heidi: Welcome.

Jonathan: A lot of things happened there. It said remote session. Then it told me that no screen reader was running on the remote machine. This is something that’s quite interesting to get your head around with RIM, in that you could be logged into a machine where someone is running a different screen reader from you, and it doesn’t actually matter. Well, it may matter if you don’t know how to control that screen reader and what controls to use, but essentially when you log into the machine, because by default you’ll be hearing what’s coming through the sound card, you can just use any screen reader that happens to be running on the system’s PC. That means that you can do this and run Narrator, which is on everybody’s windows PC and control it that way.

Another thing that happens that I’ve disabled right now because I see it every time, is that when you connect, a little dialogue pops up and it tells you to engage with certain options for the session or to exit the session. This is the only way that you can exit the session. You’ve got to use the command Windows + Shift + Esc. What happens at your end of you Windows + Shift + Esc, Heidi?

Heidi: Well, first of all, it didn’t tell me about pressing Windows + Shift + Esc.

Jonathan: Okay. Well, it told me. Well, it did if I entered. I told it not to tell me again.

Heidi: When I press Windows + Shift + Esc, I get an End Remote Control Session option. That’s it.

Jonathan: I’m going to press Windows + Shift + Esc at my end. Now, if I arrow around here, I press Windows + D together, desktop. We’re not hearing anything because there’s no screen reader running, and RIM told me that. If I press Windows + Shift + Esc, I’ll get speech from, in this case NVDA, which is running on my computer.

Automated Voice: Menu selected. Sub menu. Minimize session 1 of 7.

Jonathan: If we minimize the session, then we’ll go back to my desktop and I can do ordinary things with my computer on the local side here. I can Alt + Tab back into the session at any time.

Automated Voice: Flip session 2 of 7.

Jonathan: If I flip the session, then Heidi will be able to control my computer. The roles will be reversed.

Automated Voice: Stop voice conversation3 of 7.

Jonathan: We can stop the voice conversation. If I don’t want to hear you anymore, Heidi, I can press Enter here, and you will be gone.

Heidi: Oh no. Don’t do it.

Jonathan: Yes. I’ll still be controlling your computer, though. Down arrow.

Automated Voice: Start the remote accessibility 4 of 7.

Jonathan: We’re going to go back and have a look at this in a moment. This is the NVDA add-on, which means that you can have speech on someone’s computer without them even having a screen reader running.

Automated Voice: Request unattended access5 of 7.

Jonathan: If I request unattended access, then Heidi would have to give the okay to this, but then it would mean that I can log into her computer at any time. This is great for unattended sessions, such as the one we’ll look at later when I want to control the Mushroom Pot, the computer that runs Mushroom FM.

Automated Voice: Connection detail 6 of 7.

Jonathan: We can go into this section to have a look at the connection, whether it’s peer to peer or relay the latency, various useful things for troubleshooting.

Automated Voice: End session 7 of 7.

Jonathan: Finally, we can end the session. I’m going to up-arrow.

Automated Voice: Connection detail 6 of 7. Request unattended access5 of 7. Start the remote accessibility 4 of 7.

Jonathan: Choose start remote accessibility.

Automated Voice: Remote session document. No screen reader is running on– folder view list, remote incident manager not selected, 707. Remote accessibility is active.

Jonathan: Now, it says remote accessibility is active, and I believe I’m on Heidi’s desktop, and Remote Incident Manager has the focus so [unintelligible 01:10:11]

Automated Voice: [unintelligible 01:10:13] 607.

Jonathan: What does that do?

Heidi: That is a video editing software that’s for trimming-

Jonathan: Fair enough.

Heidi: -the video without losing video quality.

Jonathan: That’s a good idea.

Automated Voice: Discord5 of 7.

Jonathan: You’re on the Discord?

Heidi: Yes.

Jonathan: Excellent.

Automated Voice: Steam 4 of 7.

Jonathan: The latency is really not too bad. I will go to the Start menu.

Automated Voice: Start window. Search window.

Jonathan: I can type Edge.

Automated Voice: Microsoft Edge.

Jonathan: Enter. It really does feel-

Automated Voice: New app, personal Microsoft, Edge window, app bar, toolbar [unintelligible 01:10:44]

Jonathan: -like I am just using a computer that is right here. There’s no lag, there’s not latency. It’s important to stress that, because I’m using this add on, Heidi is not running a screen reader. She is not hearing any of the speech that we are.

As far as she’s concerned, I could be a sighted technician troubleshooting on her computer. There’s no need to disclose blindness at all if you don’t want to. You’re hearing your speech. She has no idea that I’m a screen reader user. Both of us have control of the computer at the same time. It’s like we’re both sitting at the keyboard of the machine. I’m now going to bring up that menu by pressing Windows + Shift + Esc.

Automated Voice: Menu selected. Sub menu.

Jonathan: Down arrow.

Automated Voice: Minimize session 1 of 6.

Jonathan: We’ll minimize the session.

Automated Voice: Task bar.

Jonathan: I’m going to go to Notepad.

Automated Voice: Start window. Notepad. Untitled Notepad.

Jonathan: I’m going to type some text. This is a test. Welcome. We’ll just read that.

Automated Voice: This is a test. Welcome.

Jonathan: I’ll copy it to the clipboard.

Automated Voice: This is a test.

Jonathan: Now, I will go back into the session.

Automated Voice: Remote session.

Jonathan: Now, I’m on Heidi’s computer. I’ll go to the Start menu.

Automated Voice: Search window.

Jonathan: And notepad.

Automated Voice: Notepad app. Untitled Notepad.

Jonathan: You see that Notepad’s open on your computer, Heidi?

Heidi: Yes, it’s just a blank untitled Notepad.

Automated Voice: This is a test.

Heidi: Now, it says, this is a test. Welcome.

Jonathan: There we go, so I pasted material from my computer into Notepad on Heidi’s computer. The latency.

Automated Voice: [unintelligible 01:12:22]

Jonathan: It’s really quite responsive, given that it’s coming across the internet. It’s a peer to peer connection, and we’re just across the other side of town from one another, but it’s still really responsive. That’s the way that you can control a sighted person’s computer without them having a screen reader running. Alt+F4. 4.

Automated Voice: Notepad dialogue. Do you want to save changes to untitled?

Jonathan: No.

Automated Voice: Desktop list.

Jonathan: Thank you very much for helping us out with that, Heidi. It’s got all sorts of potential benefits, don’t you think?

Heidi: Yes, I think so.

Jonathan: Thanks to Heidi for helping us out with that. I stopped the recording and close the session from the menu that I got to by pressing Windows+ Shift+ Esc. Bonnie tells me that she doesn’t really mind that I’m not particularly handy with plumbing or building or any of those things. As long as I can keep her technology up and running and functioning, I’m worth having around. It’s good to have a purpose, I tell you.

I am often found doing little tweaks to Bonnie’s computer. She’s using an HP Spectre laptop at the moment, and I’m trying to keep it in good shape. I have installed RIM on Bonnie’s HP Spectre computer, and I assigned Control + Alt + R to launch it.

Bonnie is of course running a screen reader. She is running JAWS. That means we don’t need to have the feature where we control somebody’s computer without a screen reader running. She will be running JAWS. I’ve loaded JAWS again, and we’ve got the Daniel voice for JAWS.

Daniel: Desktop one.

Jonathan: I’m going to press Control + Alt + R because I’ve set that up, and we’re going to launch RIM.

Daniel: Task bar. Remote incident manager 0100. Provide remote help. Feedback Remote Incident Manager Document.

Jonathan: Now, in this case, I do need to press Enter. That has turned forms mode on, and I can type in a keyword. Since it’s Bonnie, I’m going to type in the keyword beautiful. I’m now going to send her a text inviting her to press Control + Alt + R on her computer to launch RIM, and then type the word beautiful and press Enter. I’d better press Enter too in fact.

Daniel: Remote incident manager. Provide remote help document.

Jonathan: We’re waiting for Bonnie to connect.

Daniel: Taskbar. Remote session. Remote session document.

Jonathan: It said remote session. We did not hear that a screen reader is running, but that seems to be unique to Bonnie’s computer. Welcome, Bonnie.

Bonnie: Hello.

Jonathan: How is it sounding?

Bonnie: Good. Sounds really good.

Jonathan: If I go to the desktop– I’ll just check. We might already be there. Yes, we are. What we’re hearing now is Bonnie’s Eloquence TTS. I was running Daniel, but now that we’re using Bonnie’s computer, we hear that Bonnie’s running Eloquence. It sounds a little bit grainy, and that is because what we’re hearing now is the audio from Bonnie’s sound card. It’s coming down the internet as a fairly low bit rate compressed stream because if that were not the case, that would increase latency. I can check the time for example.

Automated Voice: 3:33 PM.

Jonathan: It’s reasonably snappy.

Automated Voice: PC JAWS PC

Jonathan: Now, if I go to the Start menu.

Automated Voice: Search box edit.

Jonathan: We can go to Edge, for example.

Automated Voice: Microsoft Edge. Enter. Desktop. Folder view, list view.

Jonathan: Now, we are hearing audio from the sound card, so what I’m going to do while I’m on Bonnie’s computer is go to YouTube, Bonnie.

Bonnie: Okay.

Automated Voice: Com. Enter. Loading page. https//www.youtube.com. Microsoft alert. Install YouTube app.

Jonathan: No, we don’t want to do that. If I navigate by heading.

Automated Voice: Subscriptions. Explore. More from YouTube. Female Hannibal Lecter given– the world’s youngest serial killer, 1 year ago, 32 minutes, 2 million-

Jonathan: Would you be interest in that, Bonnie?

Bonnie: Great.

Jonathan: Sounds like your sort of thing.

Bonnie: True Crime, yes.

Automated Voice: The Devil Came Up To Boston (Video) Adam Ezra Group link.

Jonathan: That’s nice.

Bonnie: I think it’s a parody.

Jonathan: I’m sure it is. We’ll press Enter. Obviously, Bonnie’s hearing her own speech. I’m hearing it too.

Automated Voice: Enter. YouTube-

Jonathan: I’ll press Enter.

Ad: Stay well this winter, folks. If you’re sick, get tested and rug up up at home.

Jonathan: There’s the ad. I’m hearing all the audio that’s coming through Bonnie’s computer. I’ll press Alt + F4.

Automated Voice: Alt + F4. Desktop. Folder view, list view. Not selected.

Jonathan: Now, let’s try something incredibly fun. I’m going to press the JAWS key with F4.

Automated Voice: Unloading JAWS.

Jonathan: Now, I’m going to press Control + Windows + Enter, and that should load Narrator.

Narrator: Narrator heading level one. Welcome to Narrator. This is-

Jonathan: Here I am with JAWS running on my computer, but I’m controlling Narrator on Bonnie’s computer. I can go to the Start menu.

Narrator: Start window. Search. Search bar. Microsoft.

Jonathan: Navigate around. Of course, Bonnie has full control at all times. She can use her keyboard too. She can end the session. I’ll exit Narrator.

Narrator: Exiting Narrator.

Jonathan: There we go. What do you think of this Bonnie?

Bonnie: It’s cool. You have to put JAWS back on.

Jonathan: Okay. If you like. We’ll just go to the run menu and press Enter.

Bonnie: Yes. It’s very cool that you could see what’s going on on the computer, so you can control things on there.

Jonathan: Yes.

Bonnie: That really would be a great thing for AT people to have and sighted relatives, even. [crosstalk]

Jonathan: It’s simple to setup, isn’t it?

Bonnie: Yes, very easy to setup.

Jonathan: I was just able to let you know what the code word is. You can make up the code word. You just type that in, and here we are and I can provide remote assistance. There are definite advantages in not having a remote session closely associated with whatever screen reader you happen to be running.

For example, let’s say that you’re working on someone’s machine and you need to do some things that require a restart of JAWS. It could be, for example, that you are installing a set of scripts that make changes to the default, and the best way to ensure that those changes have taken is to quit JAWS and start it again.

If you do that from a JAWS tandem session, you’ve lost the tandem session, and you have to re-establish another one. Because this is completely screen reader agnostic, you can quit JAWS and start it again. As we just did, you can even change screen readers. If you’re trying to do something and you think, okay, this isn’t working with the screen reader I happen to be running. Maybe I’ll try another one and see if I can get this to work, or maybe I want to do some comparisons. You can do all of that because RIM is not tied to a screen reader. Now, we can also flip this. Let’s see if we can make this work. I’ll go to the menu here by pressing Windows + Shift + Esc.

Daniel: Context menu. Minimize session 1 of 6.

Jonathan: What we hear now is Daniel because this is on my computer.

Daniel: Flip session 2 of 6.

Jonathan: I’m going to choose flip session.

Daniel: Leaving menus. Remote session document. The remote session has flipped.

Bonnie: Yes, I can hear it.

Jonathan: You can hear Daniel?

Bonnie: I did. He’s not talking now but I did hear him.

Jonathan: Try pressing the Start menu key.

Daniel: Search box edit.

Jonathan: Now you’re controlling my computer.

Bonnie: Okay, so can look for-

Daniel: Imported from Chrome. File folder in links. Last modified 7/22/2022. 8:28 PM. Press right to switch preview.

Jonathan: I see what you’re doing there. You’re looking for Google Chrome on my ThinkPad, but I don’t have Google Chrome on my ThinkPad. I’ve switched exclusively to my Microsoft Edge, so no Chrome on in there. There you go, it does work.

Bonnie: Yes.

Jonathan: Now, we flip the session.

Bonnie: Cool.

Jonathan: Now, if I press the Windows + Shift + Escape.

Daniel: Context menu. End remote control session 1 of 1.

Jonathan: I can end the session. The only option I have now is to end the session because it’s been flipped. Bonnie is now in control, and she would have the full menu. I’ll exit the session at this end, and I will say goodbye because when I exit the session, Bonnie, you’ll be hung up on.

Bonnie: Hung up on.

Jonathan: Right.

Bonnie: Thank you everybody for listening to the demo.

Jonathan: Goodbye.

Bonnie: Bye.

Daniel: Leaving menus. T. Desktop. Folder view, list view. Station playlist remote VT.

Jonathan: Are you there, Bonnie? Hello? Nope. She’s really gone, and that’s the end of the session. It’s pretty easy to flip the session as well. The final thing I wanted to demonstrate is something that I’ve already set up, and that I’ve already been playing with. This is the ability to set up an unattended session. As we discussed in the interview, this is a replacement for Microsoft remote desktop, and I must admit it is so much easier. It’s really simple to get going. What I’m going to do is invoke RIM once again.

Daniel: Taskbar. Remote incident manager 0100.

Jonathan: I’m going to Tab.

Daniel: Start voice conversation check box not checked. Start button. Start an unattended session instead button.

Jonathan: Here’s start an unattended session instead. To recap how you get this going, you would initially make a connection the way that we’ve just done both with Heidi and with Bonnie, using a keyword. When that connection has been established, you invoke the RIM menu by pressing Windows + Shift + escape, and then you choose request an unattended session.

What will happen then is, on the target computer, a dialogue will pop up, and it will say that Jonathan has requested unattended access to this, and essentially knew that somebody could drop in at any time. Are you absolutely sure you want to do this? If you choose yes, then any computer that the controller is logged in from will have access to the PC. It’s really simple to set up, and very effective. Let’s press the Space Bar on this button.

Daniel: Target machine. List box item, Mushroom Pot one of one.

Jonathan: The only one that I have configured at this point is the Mushroom Pot, so I’ll activate that.

Daniel: Start button. Remote Incident Manager. Provide remote help document. Desktop. Folder view, list view. Station playlist. Remote VT. 16 of 33. Remote session. Remote session document.

Jonathan: Now, I’m in the remote session. I’ll press the JAWS key with T.

Daniel: Desktop one.

Jonathan: I’m at the desktop. If I check the time?

Automated Voice: 11:42 PM.

Jonathan: This clock is on Eastern US time, and so that’s correct. Eloquence is at a reasonable clip. Not super fast, but not super slow either.

Automated Voice: [unintelligible 01:22:42]

Jonathan: I’m going to Alt + Tab into Station Playlist Studio, which is obviously running on the Mushroom Pot.

Automated Voice: [unintelligible 01:22:50]

Jonathan: When Station Playlist studio comes up on the Mushroom Pot, it comes up muted because it’s playing out directly to the stream. I can unmute it at any time, and hear what’s going on if I were plugged in via headphones, and I can do that very easily using RIM. I’ll press Control + Shift + U, which is a Station Playlist studio command to unmute.

[music]

Jonathan: There it is coming down in stereo, and it’s all possible to hear what’s going on. I’ll go back to the desktop.

Automated Voice: Folder view, list view. Manger 615.

Jonathan: This happens automatically now. After the Mushroom Pot has rebooted, it’s still there, I can come back in. It’s a very easy way to get unattended access to this machine. I’m going to end the session now. I’m going to press Windows + Shift + Esc.

Daniel: Context Menu, minimize session, one of three.

Jonathan: That beep you heard by the way, came from the mushroom pot as well. It is telling me that there is 30 seconds remaining of the track that is playing now.

Daniel: Connection details. Minimize session. One of three. End session, three of three.

Jonathan: I’m going to choose End session.

Daniel: Leaving menus, desktop, folder view, list view.

Jonathan: I’m back to my desktop. This is RIM still in beta. A really exciting product. I like using this thing. It’s easy to use. It’s got some good features. The first thing I hope is that Aira will adopt RIM so that I can ask for a RIM session, which is superior in every respect to TeamViewer from an accessibility point of view and from other points of view as well. To participate in the beta, kick the tires for free, head-on over to get rim.app.

[music]

Jonathan: Julie Carroll is writing in again, and she says, “Hi Jonathan, love your podcast.” Well, thank you so much. “I listen every week,” she says. “I would like to leave a review. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how to leave a podcast review. I Googled the issue, but never seemed to have the same options on my screen that the instructions reference. Is this something you might cover for us? I still prefer to listen on my Victor stream. No pesky interruptions there, but I could get to the podcast on my Apple podcast app to leave a review. Thanks for all your detailed help for us technically-challenged.”

Well, thank you so much, Julie. It’s good to have you listening. It sounds like you are asking me to open the Apple podcast app. I want to be really upfront. I think that the Apple podcast app is probably the worst podcast experience that is accessible on the iPhone, whether you choose Castro, which is my personal favorite or Overcast or Downcast, or Pocket Cast. You can do so much better than the Apple podcast app.

That said, with the subscription features that Apple podcasts now have, there are some premium content podcasts that you can only get through Apple podcasts. I really lament this. I think it’s important that podcasts be open, available on whatever podcast app you choose. I think that’s fundamental to the ethos of what podcasting is supposed to be.

Anyway, having had that rant, let’s see if we can figure this out. Before recording this, I subscribed to my own podcast, to Mosen at Large, in the Apple podcast app. I think that is critical. Now, in Apple podcasts, they now don’t talk about subscribing to podcasts.

They talk about following. I believe you may need to follow the podcast before you can leave a review. That may be a safety thing, a security thing, to try and make sure that those who are leaving reviews actually hear the podcast. That’d be nice. Let’s assume that you have subscribed or followed Mosen at Large in the Apple podcast app. I’ll go there now. Open podcasts.

Automated Voice: Sticky note.

Jonathan: Why is it saying that?

Automated Voice: Tab bar. Search. Tab. Selected. Library. Tab. 304.

Jonathan: I don’t know why it sticky note, but we’re in the library tab now, and I will go to the top of the screen.

Automated Voice: More button, library, heading, latest episodes button, downloaded button, saved button.

Jonathan: I’m just flicking right.

Automated Voice: Recently updated, heading, Mosen at Large, updated Sunday button, sticky note.

Jonathan: There is the Mosen at Large podcast, and it was updated on Sunday because I’m in New Zealand, so Mosen at Large does come out on a Sunday morning, New Zealand time. I’ll double tap that.

Automated Voice: Podcast artwork, image, sticky note.

Jonathan: Goodness knows why it is saying sticky note, but ours is not to reason why. What we can do now is navigate by heading. You could use the rotor to navigate to headings if you have your rotor set up this way. I actually use headings so often on my iPhone that I have assigned the two fingers flick right and left gesture to navigate by heading, so that’s how I’m going to do it.

Automated Voice: Ratings, and reviews, heading.

Jonathan: There it is. Ratings and reviews. If I flick right-

Automated Voice: 5.0/5. 5 stars, 100%. 4 stars, 0%, 3 stars, 0%, 2 stars, 0%, 1 star, 0%.

Jonathan: Well, that’s nice. I’ll continue to flick right.

Automated Voice: Three ratings. Tap to rate.

Jonathan: You can rate the podcast here by tapping here.

Automated Voice: Star rating, zero stars, highly recommended five stars, four whiles ago. Those are 50. If you are interested in blindness-related.

Automated Voice: Okay, we’ve got some reviews here. I’ll keep flicking right.

Automated Voice: Write a review.

Jonathan: There’s the magic button you’re looking for, write a review, so if I double tap.

Automated Voice: Cancel button.

Jonathan: Flick right.

Automated Voice: Write a review, heading, send button, rating zero stars, adjustable.

Jonathan: There’s the rating again, so if you want to, I would be honored if you’d flick up to five stars.

Automated Voice: Title, text, field.

Jonathan: You’ve got your title.

Automated Voice: Review option.

Jonathan: The text of the review.

Automated Voice: Text field.

Jonathan: That’s all we have. The Save button is at the top. That is how you leave a review in Apple podcast, Julie. For those who would like to, I would certainly be most grateful for your five-star review.

[music]

Jonathan: That’s beautiful music serenades a beautiful Bonnie Bulletin, with the beautiful Bonnie Mosen. Welcome.

Bonnie: Kia ora.

Jonathan: There’s been a bit of friction in the studio here as we record bit friction because Bonnie’s vociferously complaining about the plush chair-

Bonnie: It’s not a plush chair.

Jonathan: –that she has to sit on.

Bonnie: It is a lawn chair, and it’s one of those old-fashioned lawn chairs with– what is this stuff called? The-

Jonathan: Actions have consequences because you moved out of this office.

Bonnie: Yes, because you didn’t want me in here.

Jonathan: Well, it’s hard for you to be prattling away on your keyboard when I’m recording, isn’t it?

Bonnie: I know. Well, you have important things to do during the day too. When I work from home and, of course, during the whole pandemic, I couldn’t have worked in here because you were trying to keep an organization afloat and I was calling people all day, so it wouldn’t have worked.

Jonathan: You have now established another office in Mosen Towers.

Bonnie: I have. I have the smallest bedroom, which I’m very happy about because it’s very sunny and has a nice view of the neighbor’s trampoline and-

Jonathan: Which you can’t see.

Bonnie: Which I can’t see, but I can hear the kids playing, the girls out there playing. Thinking about doing some more decorating. We have a twin bed in there.

Jonathan: Oh, no. No. This is news to me.

Bonnie: I’ve been thinking about it for a while. We have a twin bed in there. Thinking about maybe we should get a sofa, a sofa bed or a futon. I always wanted a futon. Even though they tell me they’re the worst things on earth, but I always wanted one for some reason.

Jonathan: The thing is, when Bonnie moved out of this studio/office combo thing, where there is a desk behind her.

Bonnie: Which the Mushroom computer lives on.

Jonathan: That’s right, the mushroom computer lives on it now. When she moved out, she took her very nice office chair with her to her new office. This is one of the advantages of having such a large house when the children have moved out. We’ve turned one of the kids’ old bedrooms into a gym, and we’ve turned another one into your office, and we’ve still got space for people to stay. The thing is, that only leaves down here this, well, I don’t know, it’s like a barbecue chair, right? A deck chair or something.

Bonnie: It’s a deck chair. It’s a cheap old deck chair that you would find by the pool in the ’70s.

Jonathan: I feel like we’ve now tarnished the image of the Mosen tower studio when people know that you are now sitting on a deck chair. We need to get you a good office chair for the guest mic or something.

Bonnie: No. We need to get me a good office chair for my office, and then we can bring my chair down here, which is a nice office chair.

Jonathan: Oy.

Bonnie: That’s what we need to.

Jonathan: Right. Now, I want to ask you about the topic of the week. This is all because Kamala Harris– that’s how you say it, correct?

Bonnie: Kamala.

Jonathan: Kamala Harris? I don’t want to mispronounce her name. Kamala-

Bonnie: Just call her Vice President Harris.

Jonathan: Vice President Harris was seeking to be inclusive the other day. She said, I think, “My name is Kamala Harris.”

Bonnie: Vice President Harris.

Jonathan: “My name is Kamala.” I just don’t want to mispronounce it.

Bonnie: I think it’s Kamala. Kamala. I’ve seen it Kamala.

Jonathan: Kamala Harris, I think.

Bonnie: I think it’s Kamala.

Jonathan: I don’t want to do that. “My name is Kamala Harris.” She said, “My pronouns are she/her. I’m a woman sitting at the desk wearing a blue suit,” I think is roughly what she said. This sets the Republicans absolutely into a tizzy. There’s been this massive social media backlash, including some official RNC account that tweeted about this making fun of her.

There have been articles in various conservative publications making fun of it. There was an article in The Atlantic talking about this. Part of it is the gender pronouns thing, which I’m not going to go into. Part of it is the visual description thing. People basically saying, “Well, do blind people care?” Of course, some blind people don’t. What do you think about this? She was trying to be inclusive and accessible.

Bonnie: It’s not something that keeps me awake at night, personally. I’m not going to criticize someone for doing it if that’s what they want to do. I’ve been to things. I was at a book launch recently where the author did that, and I thought that was really nice. She stated-

Jonathan: You felt included, right?

Bonnie: I did. She says, “I want to be inclusive to our visually-impaired guests.” That was great. She went a little bit further. She told her pronouns and what she was– but she said, “I have on sparkly boots that I painted myself and I have on a black skirt.” She was more detailed with jewelry and stuff.

Jonathan: See, that’s what I want. If there’s one criticism that I have of the Kamala Harris thing, it’s that it’s not detailed enough. Now, somebody said in response to the brouhaha that has been generated by this genuine attempt to be inclusive and accessible, that there were wider accessibility benefits.

This person I saw on Twitter said, “Look, sometimes I’m on a Zoom, and I have my video off, and I’m not looking at the screen, and I’m doing other things, and I’m sighted. I appreciate the visual descriptions.”

Bonnie: Yes, that makes sense. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. If you have someone named Pat or Chris or Terry on the call or Peyton or someone like that, you might not be sure who they are. Are they male, female, whatever?

Jonathan: I have actually made that mistake I think at least twice in my life.

Bonnie: Oh, I have, too.

Jonathan: Where I thought that someone was a man and they were actually a woman.

Bonnie: I’ve done that too. They were okay, but they corrected me. Once I was at Universal Studio when I was being strapped into a ride and I said, “Thank you, ma’am.” “I’m a sir.” I’m like, “Oh, dear, I’m sorry.” They laughed.

Jonathan: Another example of this– this is a real fall through the floor moment, I’ve got to tell you. I’m not sure if I’ve told you this story. When I was a candidate for parliament-

Bonnie: Oh, no.

Jonathan: -in 1999, I was on a TV debate. We were talking about Māori issues. Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. We were all debating the issues and what we needed to do to get better outcomes for Māori and everything. I said, “Obviously, none of us around this table can identify directly with the challenges that Māori experience.”

Bonnie: Oh, dear.

Jonathan: I later found out that one of the candidates was Māori. I had no idea because people have stereotypes about what Māori are supposed to sound like, or what African-Americans are supposed to sound like or whatever. Sometimes people don’t sound the way you expect them to sound.

Bonnie: No, not at all.

Jonathan: This is where the visual description is helpful.

Bonnie: It’s helpful.

Jonathan: The other thing is that I find it interesting. We had a launch in the beginning of this month, actually, for the new Ministry of Disabled People, which is called Whaikaha. Various people who spoke at that event got up and described themselves. I actually learned things about government ministers with whom I have regular interactions that I didn’t know before.

Bonnie: Yes. Carmel Sepuloni is very tall.

Jonathan: Yes. I find it interesting. My one criticism, as I say, is that I want more description of what people are wearing. I’m interested in that. What I find frustrating, if I can just complete the point and I’ll shut up and you can–

What I find frustrating is the blind people who seek to deprive me of information I want. They say, “I don’t care about this stuff. Therefore, you shouldn’t have the visual description that you want.” I find that incredibly presumptuous.

Bonnie: Like I said, if someone doesn’t do it, if they’re not comfortable doing it, that’s fine. If they want to do it, that’s great. I tend to imagine what people look like in my head. With Vice President Harris, I picture her as a tall, slim-

Jonathan: She’s not tall.

Bonnie: I know, but in my head, I picture her as a tall, slender, well-dressed woman of color.

Jonathan: Well, she probably is well-dressed.

Bonnie: Yes, she’s probably well-dressed.

Jonathan: I’m pretty sure she’s not tall.

Bonnie: I don’t know. I guess it depends on what tall is.

Jonathan: I don’t believe she’s tall. Anyway, I’d like to know those things. Now, I suppose one compromised position is, if the visual descriptions are not giving me enough detail anyway, and some blind people are saying, “We don’t want them.” Maybe the answer is, those who do want them should use technology like Aira or whatever to get the extensive visual description that they want, but that can be cost-prohibitive if you’re in an area where there’s no Aira access and you’ve got to hold your phone out and say, “What does this person look like?”

Bonnie: They might be a bit creeped-out by that. I think you can get arrested for doing that in certain places.

Jonathan: I saw a tweet that really concerned me from somebody who’s actually quite respected in the accessibility field. They came back from the NFB Convention recently. They posted a tweet and said, “I was so pleased that people at the NFB weren’t offering visual descriptions of themselves.”

I see that NFB is taking quite a neutral position on this. They send a tweet when all this brouhaha blew up earlier in the week. They said something like, “The question of visual description is a complex matter.” They actually asked people to tweet in and say what they thought about it.

The responses from blind people were so varied. We’ve had this discussion on this podcast. There’s such a range of perspectives on this. Some are passionate like me about it. I want this information. What right do other blind people have of depriving me of the information that sighted people can just get? See? What’s the alternative? Another alternative is, you could walk up to somebody, not that they’d let you probably walk up to Vice President Harris.

Bonnie: No. [crosstalk]

Jonathan: You could walk up to someone afterwards say, “Excuse me. What are you wearing?” People would say, “Oh, there’s a creepy blind person asking that question.” If you de-creepify it by making the information available to everybody, that’s really inclusive. I’ve been working with people in my organization for three and a bit years now, and every so often, something comes up, and I find out that they’ve got a beard and I didn’t realize they had a beard or they’re wearing glasses. I actually find that interesting. It doesn’t make a difference to what I think about them or anything like that. I just find it interesting information. I don’t know. I don’t know how we resolve this as a community because-

Bonnie: I don’t think you can. I think it’s just some things people are going to have differing opinions.

Jonathan: What happens if you get in a room and somebody genuinely is trying to be inclusive and helpful and they describe themselves and a blind person complains, “Why are you wasting time? This makes me feel singled out.” This person’s only trying to be helpful, and they’ve heard somewhere that blind people want this. It’s like, I don’t expect blind people to be homogeneous as a community about what accommodations we want, but it makes it complicated for people when there’s so much division on this question.

Bonnie: Well, I think people, with any division, they just have to keep their manners, mind their manners. If you don’t like it, then if it’s not harming you in any way, at least they’re not walking around the room saying, “Oh, you want to feel my blue suit or my beard,” or whatever. Everybody’s different. We’re not going to all like the same things. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and just-

Jonathan: Then what happens if you are the only blind person say on a Zoom call and they’re going around describing themselves for your singular benefit? You think, oh, my God, this is just making me feel so singled out and ostentatious and I don’t want all this attention.

Bonnie: For me, I guess just me, I wouldn’t care. After the author talk, I went up to the author and thanked her. I said, “That was very nice.” I’m not going to stand up and say, ”Gee, you didn’t have to point me out.” In most cases, everyone knows anyway because the dog is there, you’re not looking directly into the video or stuff like that. Or they hear JAWS or voice-over chattering away. I’m not one that gets upset about these things. I don’t.

Jonathan: Another thing that somebody said, which I do not agree with, is that for Vice President Harris to have talked about her blue suit, is a stereotype where we care more about what women politicians are wearing.

Bonnie: Oh, God.

Jonathan: I don’t agree with it because if Joe Biden-

Bonnie: No. What about Trump’s orange hair?

Jonathan: -was there, President Biden, I’d be interested in what he was wearing.

Bonnie: Yes. What about Trump’s orange hair or toupée or whatever? That was the headline on the news for four years. Does that mean we care about the hair of male politicians?

Jonathan: It’s not like I care about it. That’s not the term I’m looking for. I find it interesting background information to find out. When we last talked about this, somebody wrote in about a situation in their workplace where they were turning up in a skirt and heels. It wasn’t until somebody told them, actually, everybody else in this workplace is not dressed that way. You’re overdressed.

If there had been the visual descriptions, this person, who clearly is female, because if you want to turn up as a male in skirt and heels, you live like you want to live baby, but this was a woman. It was embarrassing for her to learn that way. It helps you to fit in, in some cases as well.

Bonnie: Also, when you take a job, and I’ve known sighted people who have had this happen too. A friend of mine went for a meeting at Google and showed up in their business suit– they were sighted– showed up in their business suit and the people they were meeting were there in bare feet and ripped up jeans and shirts that look like they hadn’t been washed in several years.

Jonathan: Talking to the sentient bots.

Bonnie: Talking to the bots. The bot was in the room. I don’t know about that part. This was years ago. That’s also part of work-ready is asking, because there are dress codes. If you work on Wall Street, it’s, or it used to be, heels and skirts, baby.

New Zealand example is very laid back. Even in corporate, you don’t see a lot of people that are dressed to the nines, in suits and stuff. Not a lot. Most of even the managers and things, a lot of them are sports shirts and pants. A lot of it is asking about your culture in the job. That’s one thing that I tell people. When you wonder what to wear, you ask straight-up. What do we wear here?

Jonathan: Now, on other travel matters, we’re getting ready for our big trip in September. We’ve had all sorts of fun with this Signet big kahuna of a battery that I talked about that we bought a few weeks ago. The first one was dropping about 20% of charge overnight. You can’t have that. It’s just sitting there doing nothing and it drops all this charge.

I took it back to the store. I actually bought it online, but I got in an Uber and I went to the store because they said, “We’d like you to physically return this and somebody will look at it.” They didn’t swap it out right away. They had to verify that I wasn’t somehow pulling a swifty. I don’t know why they would think that I would go to all the trouble of catching an Uber to-

Bonnie: Well, because people do it all the time.

Jonathan: All right then.

Bonnie: You have to be careful. Not because of you, but just in general.

Jonathan: They verified that this thing was dodgy, and then eventually they replaced it. I went in another Uber and picked it up, and got it home. Then overnight, I found that not only was it losing charge like the first one did, but 9 times out of 10, when you connected a device to it to charge, it didn’t register that the device was connected. I got in another Uber and I took it back and I said, “Okay, two strikes is enough for me on this one. I want a refund.”

A week went by, and I still hadn’t heard from anybody so I sent a very nice email and said, “Just checking in on my refund, guys.” They texted me back and said, “We can’t find anything wrong with this device. Can you please tell us what’s wrong with it?” I wrote back and summarized it all over again. Then I just sent them an email and I said, “This is just ridiculous. I’ve bought so many things from this place, like laptops, routers, lots of computer gear,” and they’re about to lose me as a customer over a $200 product because they’re being so ridiculous. This is PB Tech, by the way, for anybody in New Zealand who is interested.

Finally, after I started mentioning the Consumer Guarantees Act, which is a law in New Zealand which says that a product has to actually do what it says on the tin, they finally gave me my refund. On other news to do with dodgy places, we’ve had a real run with Menulog. We’ve now severed our relationship with Menulog.

Bonnie: It was for the best.

Jonathan: This is the delivery service for food that competes with DoorDash and Uber Eats. I have to say, if you’re listening, Menulog, it’s not me, it’s you.

Bonnie: Definitely, been terrible.

Jonathan: We had two experiences a week apart. Thursday night we kind of think I will get a bit of a treat in. We got this wonderful restaurant that I think– I talked about this on the show before where the restaurant actually compensated for Menulog’s snafu and brought the food over, one of their waitstaff brought the food over because they had made it and Menulog didn’t deliver it.

Then because as far as Menulog was concerned, we didn’t get the food, they refunded me. I tried to pay them and they said, “No, just have it on us for being a regular,” which was so kind of them. That’s all about customer service, making it right, isn’t it?

Two weeks in a row. We tried to order from this restaurant, and hours went by. It never changed from preparing your order to driver assigned, which is the sequence. Each time, it finally got canceled, and we never got the food. It’s like a bad joke, isn’t it? The third time, it finally clicked over to driver assigned and driver at the restaurant and driver on the way. I’m saying to Bonnie, “Wow, this is amazing. We are actually going to get our food” and then it changed over to delivered, and unfortunately it was delivered all right, just not to us.

Then I get on the Chatbot thing because you can’t call them anymore. When we last talked about Menulog, I talked about how every time you call the number, they won’t talk to you. Now, they’ve actually come clean and they’ve just deleted the number altogether and they won’t talk to you anymore. You have to use this chat. It’s semi-accessible because, when you type something into the chat and you send it, you can read what they type back but you can’t read your own chats. You can’t read the full transcript.

They asked for the order number, they asked for my phone number about two or three times, and then they said, “We want to get this resolved as quickly as possible, and the best way to do this is to escalate it to our Escalations team.” I’m thinking, “Good, I’ll get my refund this evening.” They said, “We expect to be able to respond to you within 48 hours.”

Bonnie: That’s not very escalated.

Jonathan: I said, “What? You must be able to go back and track on the GPS where this food was dropped off. You know it’s not here. Just refund me.” He said, “I can’t refund you because I don’t have the authority.” I said, “Well, can you pass the chat over to someone who does?” They said, “Someone’s going to contact you in 48 hours.” I basically said, “I’m not leaving the chat until I talk to someone who can give me a refund.” 48 hours to wait for someone to acknowledge?

We had this once before with Menulog, where they promised a 48-hour turnaround time, and it took probably three or four follow-ups before we finally got the refund so, I wasn’t going there again. Finally, the guy miraculously re-funded my money, even though we said he couldn’t. Once I confirmed that the refund had been processed, I deleted my Menulog account and deleted the app.

Bonnie: Then the food showed up. First, our neighborhood is confusing or complicated. There’s a lot of cul-de-sacs, the streets aren’t signed very well, and a lot of turns and twists and hills and whatever. There’s number six on another street, and stuff always gets taken there.

Jonathan: Luckily, the neighbors just looked outside and saw this big bag of oysters and chicken.

Bonnie: Yes, and they brought it over.

Jonathan: Yes. Luckily one of the kids from that house brought it over to us, but if they hadn’t, we’d never have got the food.

Bonnie: Nope.

Jonathan: It was quite a long time before we did get the food.

Bonnie: Yes because they may not have been home.

Jonathan: When you look up Menulog on Google review sites and things, it’s just so bad the stories that people are telling about Menulog.

Bonnie: That’s goof. Well, not good, but —

Jonathan: We did have our first DoorDash experience yesterday. DoorDash has been weird here. Hit and miss in our particular street. We tried to order once before, and they claimed the restaurant was closed, even though it wasn’t after we placed the order, and after they said Dasher was going to pick it up.

Then we got to the point where we had a whole lot of food in the cart a couple of days ago. This was for our Thursday night treat. When I went to pay for it, it said, “Oops, your delivery address is not within this restaurant’s location,” and they’re like two kilometers from us.

Bonnie: Yes.

Jonathan: Last night we tried again, and it all just worked, and we got DoorDash. I must say the accessibility seems to have improved a little bit in the last version of the app.

Bonnie: Yes.

Jonathan: They do text you as well as push to you, so you certainly know when your food has arrived. He delivered the food at the wrong address. In this case, we were able to call him on the DoorDash app, and he immediately fixed the problem.

Bonnie: Yes. The people at that house probably looked at, “Dinner’s here. Dinner’s gone now.”

Jonathan: Yes.

Bonnie: It’s pretty crazy.

Jonathan: Are you getting your itinerary resourced out for the travel?

Bonnie: Yes. I haven’t. I’ve still got to figure out who to call or what, where.

Jonathan: Ghostbusters.

Bonnie: We can’t really do much until we know about Louis Braille’s house.

Jonathan: Well, we are having trouble communicating with the Louis Braille Museum. If anybody has any ways of helping us with that, we’d appreciate it, but we’ll keep trying.

Bonnie: I guess we could do the Eiffel Tower that afternoon and do something else on Friday.

Jonathan: We’ll try and get to sort it out because I’d like to go to the Louis Braille Museum.

Bonnie: Yes. I think Tuesday we’re going to do the London Eye because there won’t be any quiet days per say as we go, but maybe a more, we don’t have to be somewhere at 4:00 AM day.

Jonathan: Right.

Bonnie: We’ll do the London Eye. That should be pretty relaxed, I think. Then go over to Buckingham Palace. I’d like to have a little tea in the little cafe there.

Jonathan: Oh, dear. The good news is that, thanks to some quality advice, I have purchased a Zoom F3 portable recorder with 32-bit float and getting some mics that are specifically geared to the field recording we’ll be doing. Hopefully, we will get some good audio for the podcast.

Bonnie: Yes. There was a really nice story in the paper yesterday about a little girl. She’s nine, and has cerebral palsy, and she loves the Royal family. She’s very into the Royal stuff. She’s about to have surgery. The mom took her and her sister and the mom’s partner to Buckingham Palace to tour the staterooms and pet the horses, because apparently, you can pet the Queen’s horses.

Then they had lunch in the little cafe there. It’s very crowded, as you can imagine, with tourists. They have those ridiculous tables that, if you look at them, they shake. Her wheelchair, they think someone may have bumped her wheelchair and it bumped the table because those tables are not very steady– and hot tea got poured on her leg.

Everybody in the cafe ran over and they were all pouring their cold drinks on this kid, on her legs, to make sure that it didn’t burn her. They called an ambulance. The palace officials actually escorted the ambulance out the gate to make sure that it would get to the hospital with no trouble. The next day, she was invited back to Buckingham Palace and they gave her and her sister stuffed pet corgi and a Jubilee bear.

Jonathan: Did the queen say sorry?

Bonnie: If you’re listening Kate or Your Majesty or Camilla, if I’m a member the Royal family, I would definitely invite her back for a private tour and tea.

Jonathan: Right.

Bonnie: I hope that happens because it was a sad story, but it had a positive outcome. People were very helpful. They did say, when they had their second lunch, they all had cold drinks.

Jonathan: People can be kind.

Bonnie: Yes.

Jonathan: On that note, we will end. Thank you for an amazing Bonnie Bulletin.

Bonnie: Thank you.

[music]

Jonathan: 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.

[music]

[01:56:04] [END OF AUDIO]

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