[Nfbmo] Serotek declares war

DanFlasar at aol.com DanFlasar at aol.com
Tue Mar 2 16:04:35 UTC 2010

   Could you clarify the last part of your comment?  What do  you mean by 
the 'frustration similar to 
folks quoting me client choice'?  Are you referring to the  near-universal 
problem that consultants have
in trying to charge a fair price?
In a message dated 3/2/2010 9:58:43 A.M. Central Standard Time,  
b.schulz at sbcglobal.net writes:


some of it like the pricing is true but mostly sounds  like frustration 
similar to folks quoting me client choice.

Bryan  Schulz

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "fred olver"  <goodfolks at charter.net>
To: <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>; "NFB of  Missouri Mailing List" 
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Sent: Tuesday,  March 02, 2010 7:11 AM
Subject: [Nfbmo] Serotek declares  war

> Subject: [leadership] Serotek declares war on the  traditional adaptive 
> technology industry and their blind ghetto  products
> This is no warm fuzzy of a read, but something well worth the  read and 
> my opinion long over due.  Kudos to SeroTekCited  from 
> http://blog.serotek.com/
> The Serotek Ultimatum
>  Serotek declares war on the traditional adaptive technology industry and 
> their blind ghetto products. With this announcement we are sending  out a
> call to arms to every blind person and every advocate for the  blind to 
> rise
> up and throw off the tyranny that has shaped  our lives for the past two
> decades. It is a tyranny of good intentions  - or at least what began as 
> good
> intentions. But as the  proverb says, "the road to hell is paved with good
> intentions." And  for the past two decades the technologies originally
> conceived to give  us freedom have been our shackles. They have kept us 
> tied
>  down to underperforming, obscenely expensive approaches that only a  
> percentage of blind people can afford or master. They have  shackled us to
> government largess and the charity of strangers to pay  for what few 
> us
> could afford on our own. And we have  been sheep, lead down the path,
> bleating from time to time, but  without the vision or the resources to 
> stand
> up and demand  our due.
> That time is past.
> We stand today on the very edge of  universal accessibility. Mainstream
> products like the iPod, iPhone,  and newly announced iPad are fully
> accessible out of the box. And they  bring with them a wealth of highly
> desirable accessibility  applications. The cost to blind people is exactly
> the same as the cost  to sighted people. It's the same equipment, the same
> software, the  same functionality, and fully accessible.
> What Apple has done, others  are doing as well. The adaptive technology
> vendor who creates hardware  and software that is intended only for blind
> folks, and then only if  they are subsidized by the government, is a
> dinosaur. The asteroid has  hit the earth, the dust cloud is ubiquitous, 
> the
> dinosaur's  days are numbered.
> But dinosaurs are huge, and their extinction does  not happen overnight..
> Even as they die, they spawn others like them  (take the Intel Reader for
> example). Thank you, no. Any blind person  can have full accessibility to 
> any
> type of information  without the high-cost, blind-ghetto gear. They can 
> it in the same  products their sighted friends are buying. But let's face 
> it;
>  if we keep buying that crap and keep besieging our visual resource 
> to
> buy that crap for us, the dinosaurs of the industry are  going to keep 
> making
> it. Their profit margins are very good  indeed. And many have invested
> exactly none of that profit in creating  the next generation of access
> technology, choosing instead to  perpetuate the status quo. For instance,
> refreshable braille  technology, arguably the most expensive
> blindness-specific(and to many  very necessary) product has not changed
> significantly in 30 years.  Yet, the cost remains out of reach for most 
> blind
> people.  Where's the innovation there? Why have companies not invested in
>  cheaper, faster, smaller, and more efficient ways to make refreshable
>  braille? Surely the piezoelectric braille cell is not the only way? And  
> what
> about PC-based OCR software? It's still around a  thousand dollars per
> license, yet core functionality hasn't changed  much; sure, we get all 
> sorts
> of features not at all related  to reading, along with incremental 
> improvements, but why are  these prices not dropping either, especially 
> when
> you  consider that comparable off-the-shelf solutions like Abby Finereader
>  can be had for as low as $79? ? And let's not forget the screen reader
>  itself, the core technology that all of us need to access our computers  
> the first place. Do we see improvements, or just an attempt to  mimic
> innovation with the addition of features which have nothing to  do with 
> actual reading of the screen, while maintaining the same  ridiculous price
> point.
> This maintaining of the status  quo will, inevitably, face an enormous 
> crash,
> worse than the  transition from DOS to Windows based accessibility. You 
> expect a  technology crash that will put users of the most expensive
>  accessibility gear out of business.
> Why? I won't bore you with all the  technical details, but the basic 
> is
> that some of these  products have been kept current with patches and fixes
> and partial  rewrites and other tricks we IT types use when we haven't got
> the  budget to do it right, but we need to make the product work with the
>  latest operating system. That process of patching and fixing creates  an
> enormous legacy barrier that makes it impossible to rewrite  without
> abandoning all who came before. But you can only keep a kluge  working 
> so
> long before it will crumble under its own  weight. That, my friends, is
> exactly where some of the leading  adaptive technology vendors find
> themselves today.
> There are  exceptions. Serotek is an exception because we have completely
>  recreated our product base every three years. GW Micro is an exception
>  because they built their product in a highly modular fashion and can 
>  update
> modules without destroying the whole. KNFB is an exception  because they 
> take
> advantage of off-the-shelf technologies,  which translate ultimately into
> price drops and increased  functionality.
> But even we who have done it right are on a  path to obsolescence. The
> fundamental need for accessibility software  is rapidly beginning to 
> vanish.
> The universal accessibility  principles we see Apple, Microsoft, Olympus, 
> and
> others  putting in place are going to eliminate the need for these 
>  specialty
> products in a matter of just a very few years.
> Stop  and think. Why do you need accessibility tools? To read text? E-book
>  devices are eliminating that need. None of them are perfect yet, but we  
> are
> really only in the first generation. By Gen2 they will  all be fully
> accessible. To find your way? GPS on your iPhone or your  Android based 
> phone
> will do that for you. To take notes? Easy  on any laptop, netbook, or 
> Heck, you can record it live and play  it back at your convenience. Just 
> what
> isn't accessible? You  can play your music, catch a described video, scan 
> spreadsheet, take  in a PowerPoint presentation - all using conventional,
> off-the-shelf  systems and/or software that is free of charge.
> There are still some  legacy situations where you need to create an
> accessibility path. Some  corporations still have internal applications 
> that
> do not  lend themselves to modern devices. There will certainly be 
>  situations
> where a specialized product will better solve an  accessibility problem 
> than
> a mainstream one, especially in  the short term. We don't advocate 
> the baby out with the  bathwater, but we do advocate that we begin to 
> hasten
> the  inevitable change by using accessible mainstream solutions wherever
>  possible. Even now, the leading edge companies are reinventing their
>  internal systems with accessibility as a design criteria, so the 
>  situations
> that require specialized products will certainly become  fewer as time 
> on.
> If our current Assistive technology  guard's reign is coming to an end, 
> the war? Why not just let it  die its own, natural, inevitable death? 
> Because
> nothing dies  more slowly than an obsolete technology. Punch cards hung on
> for  twenty or thirty years after they were completely obsolete. The same 
>  is
> true for magnetic tape. Old stuff represents a comparatively  large
> investment, and people hate to throw away something they paid a  lot of 
> money
> for even if it's currently worthless. But that  legacy stuff obscures the
> capabilities of the present. It gets used in  situations where other
> solutions are cheaper and more practical. The  legacy stuff clogs the
> vocational rehab channel, eating up the lion's  share of the resources but
> serving a tiny portion of the need. It gets  grandfathered into 
> It
> gets specified when there is  no earthly reason why the application 
> requires
> it. The legacy  stuff slows down the dawning of a fully accessible world.
> It hurts you  and it hurts me.
> To be sure, I make my living creating and selling  products that make our
> world accessible. But first and foremost, I am  a blind person. I am one 
> you. And every day I face the same  accessibility challenges you face. I 
> have
> dedicated my life  and my company to making the world more accessible for 
> all
> of  us, but I can't do it alone. This is a challenge that every blind 
>  person
> needs to take up. We need to shout from the rooftops:  "Enough!"
> We need to commit ourselves in each and every situation to  finding and 
> using
> the most accessible off the shelf tool  and/or the least-cost, highest
> function accessibility tool available.  With our dollars and our 
> to making known that our needs and  the needs of sighted people are 99% 
> same, we can reshape this  marketplace. We can drive the dinosaurs into 
> tar pits and nurture  those cute fuzzy little varmints that are ancestors 
> to
> the  next generation. We can be part of the solution rather than part of 
>  the
> problem.
> And all it takes is getting the best possible  solution for your specific 
> need. Once you have found the solution to  fill that need, let the 
> know you appreciate their work  towards better accessibility. Let your 
> friends (sighted and blind)  know about these accessibility features; 
> probably don't know  that such features exist. Make your needs known to 
> vocational  rehab people you are working with, and don't allow them to 
>  recommendations for a specific technology for no other reason than that  
> it's been in the contract for years. Make sure  your schools and  your 
> workplace understand the need to push technology in to  the  accessible 
> space. Show them the low-cost alternatives. In this  economy  some, the 
> intelligent ones, will get it and the tide  will begin to turn. And then 
> short order the tsunami of good sense  will wash away the old, and give 
> the space to build a more  accessible world for all of us. Let the demand 
> ring out loud and  clear and the market will follow.If this message rings 
> true to you,  don't just shake your fist in agreement and leave it at 
> let  your voice be heard! Arm yourself with the vision of a future where 
>  there are no social, conceptual, or economic barriers to accessibility,  
> and let your words and your actions demonstrate that you will not  rest 
> until that vision is realized. Take out your wallet and let your  
> power shine! You do mater as a market people! You have kept  this company 
> alive with your money for 8 years this month! I believe  that if we all 
> together and do our part, we will finally say "NO  more!" same old same 
> old! Join the revolution! Together we can change  the world!Posted by 
> Calvo at 2:15 PM
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