[Nfbmo] Serotek declares war

Bryan Schulz b.schulz at sbcglobal.net
Tue Mar 2 16:41:14 UTC 2010


not so much price but rather market share.
Bryan Schulz

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <DanFlasar at aol.com>
To: <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 10:04 AM
Subject: Re: [Nfbmo] Serotek declares war

> Bryan,
>   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?
> Dan
> In a message dated 3/2/2010 9:58:43 A.M. Central Standard Time,
> b.schulz at sbcglobal.net writes:
> hi,
> 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"
> <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>; "NFB Chapter Presidents  discussion list"
> <chapter-presidents at nfbnet.org>
> 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
> in
>> 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
> small
>> 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
> among
>> 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
> get
>> 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
> center
>> 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
> accuracy
>> 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
> in
>> 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
> the
>> 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
> can
>> 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
> story
>> 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
> for
>> 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
> iPad.
>> 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
> a
>> 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
> throwing
>> 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
> goes
>> on.
>> If our current Assistive technology  guard's reign is coming to an end,
> why
>> 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
> contracts.
>> 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
> of
>> 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
> commitment
>> to making known that our needs and  the needs of sighted people are 99%
> the
>> same, we can reshape this  marketplace. We can drive the dinosaurs into
> the
>> 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
> company
>> know you appreciate their work  towards better accessibility. Let your
>> friends (sighted and blind)  know about these accessibility features;
> they
>> probably don't know  that such features exist. Make your needs known to
> the
>> vocational  rehab people you are working with, and don't allow them to
> make
>>  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
> in
>> short order the tsunami of good sense  will wash away the old, and give
> us
>> 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
> that.
>> 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
> consumer
>> 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
> get
>> 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
> Mike
>> Calvo at 2:15 PM
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