It’s the End of the World as We Know It

It’s highly unlikely the world will fall to the likes of the walking dead. I read an article the other day explaining the logistical impossibility of a virus triggering the kind of symptoms common to Hollywood zombies, and if the Internet says it’s impossible, it must be true, right? Then again, who needs hungry corpses when there are enough real world scenarios to turn our world upside down?

The Setting

Consider the following quick facts:

  • More than 8 million homes across 17 states lost power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
  • In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina most major roads into and out of New Orleans were damaged.
  • It took at least 3 days to partially restore cell phone service in New York City after 9-11.
  • The Chernobyl nuclear explosion contaminated 56,700 square miles of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, a region larger than New York State.
  • 11 hospitals treated 98 victims in the first 40 hours after the Mississippi River Bridge collapsed in Minnesota; 13 people died in that incident.

The immediate takeaways from these examples are self-evident. Emergencies can happen anywhere. Nature is not the only culprit, and you don’t need a thousand casualties for the incident to be a personal tragedy.

Then there is the matter of advance notice. In the case of hurricanes, tornados, and wild fires, you may have a little time to prepare and possibly evacuate. Mass shootings, terrorist attacks and other forms of large scale violence could happen at a moment’s notice.

Consider these questions to gauge your current level of preparedness:

  • How much food do you have in your house right now that could be prepared without electricity?
  • Are you likely to want to eat that food?
  • What will you use to prepare the food?
  • How much water do you have stored up?
  • How much of that clean water could you easily transport?
  • How much clothing do you have to meet the temperatures of the current season?
  • What kind of light source can you count on, such as candles or flashlights?
  • What kind of heat source can you rely on?
  • What kind of access, whether battery-powered radio or HAM radio, do you have to news services?

Special Considerations

It’s safe to assume a blind person’s usual modes of independence could be disrupted in the wake of a widespread disaster. One could possibly use a cell phone to navigate with GPS, but an earthquake could reshape the topography of one’s local surroundings. Besides, with the power out, it may not be so easy to run a Google search on nearby emergency shelters. Of course, navigation and technology of any stripe could be of secondary concern if you rely on medication that needs refrigeration.

Disabilities introduce their own set of priorities in the aftermath of an emergency. In such a scenario it is best to follow the tired flight attendant admonishment to help yourself before you help someone else.

Consider these questions if you have a disability:

  • Do you have extra canes and cane tips?
  • Do you have extra dog food for your service animal?
  • If the service animal is on medication, do you have some stored up?
  • What about your own medication?
  • What is the list of mobility equipment you rely on a day-to-day basis, and do you have backups?

Supply Recommendations

To start, people who live in urban areas should, at the very least, maintain a 72-hour kit. These are essential items that could see you through a few days of uncertainty.

Items could include, but should of course be customized to your needs:

  • Water bottles
  • Canned food
  • Can opener
  • Utensils
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hand crank radio
  • Currency in small denominations
  • Sufficient change of clothes
  • Sleeping bag
  • Basic hygiene products

Follow the steps in this article to avoid 10 72-hour kit mistakes.

Don’t forget to store bartering goods. You may not drink or smoke, but whiskey, coffee and cigarettes could make for good bartering chips. Silver and gold are another option, but collecting and securing these requires such a specialized coverage as to warrant their own blog post.

General Advice

First, it seems like a given, but don’t forget to factor in your pets! You don’t want to be put in a position where you have to pick between your kids or your pooch. No one really knows how long kids could survive on their own.


Second, your family should agree on a primary and secondary assembly point. This could be your home, a known shelter location, a hospital or some other well-established facility. In the event of a disaster, everyone will know to report to this location without being told, because cell phone and Internet access could be out of service. Once there you can decide if you are equipped to hunker down for an extended stay, seek shelter, or evacuate to a safer region.

Third, use this opportunity to think of how you’re going to store water. Remember, you will die of thirst before you die of starvation. The basics include storing one gallon of water per day per person per pet. A minimum of 3 days’ supplies would be great. 2 weeks would be better. Rotate the supplies every 6 months. Check out this CDC article for excellent information on emergency water storage.

Fourth, establish an out-of-state contact. When you are able to get past the cell phone congestion, you should have one point person who can confirm you’re okay to the rest of your family.

Next, self-sufficiency is essential. Take the time to learn how to hunt or fish. The fruits of this labor could be your family’s primary food source on the go. Otherwise, learn to start and maintain a garden. Consider canning for extended food storage.

And, don’t forget your labor will be for not if you have no means of protecting it. Consider firearms training and self-defense. In the aftermath of disasters, rule of law can be elusive. No one is above learning how to guard their families and their belongings. If you find that extreme, consider the civil disobedience in Ferguson. Moreover, learning to protect yourself is key in micro emergencies you could encounter while out and about.

Final Thoughts

Mormons are well-known for incorporating emergency planning into its culture. In fact, the bulk of this article was written based on notes from a recent church lecture. It’s no secret the church maintains large stores of food in central locations for grim eventualities, but the advice herein ought to be of value to you no matter your faith, or lack thereof.

If I could offer two major points for your consideration, the first is to start planning now. A disaster may never happen, and my writing may only amount to the mad rants of an over-enthusiastic prepper in the making. Still, the impact of disasters is compounded by our instinct to make rational decisions in the midst of irrational situations.

Think now about what you would do, or what you would need, if: Fill in the blank.

Second, building an emergency store can become something of an addiction when you tune into the news. Any number of climate shifts, political developments, or brewing storms could create chaos. My favorite theories are those dealing with economic collapse, but you cannot live your life planning for the worse. It would be financially irresponsible to throw money at books, bullets and bomb shelters out of fear of disaster. Think carefully before you create an avoidable financial crisis before the true crisis comes knocking.

Did you find this article helpful? In 2015 I am working hard to double up my own emergency stores, and if there is enough interest, I will maintain a column documenting my progress, review the products and services I use, and delve deeper into the points I raised in this introduction. Trust me, we have not even scratched the surface.

To read future emergency prep articles, subscribe to my personal blog or follow me on Twitter @ScribblingJoe.

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The Return of SPN

So, what’s the scoop? Is SPN dying a slow death? Well, that’s what skeptics would have you believe, but thank goodness SPN is the intrepid cat that keeps coming back and feeling more than ready to rise to the challenge!

Let’s start with staff changes. To that end, we’ll begin with your Serotek Communications Director. I oversee the company’s external channels. Hence, the SPN platform and its staff fall under my supervision, an excitingly daunting prospect to be sure. My philosophy for SPN moving forward is pretty straightforward: Recruit the best talent to bring you the best information you can count on.

But, I am boring. Let’s move onto a couple of the people who are the real stars behind this operation.

Derek Lane and Hope Povenmire are Serotek’s new Co-Content Directors. They have quickly become my trusted pilots at the helm, and our highly engaging strategy sessions make me confident you are going to be in really good hands. For everything that goes well, thank them. For anything that goes wrong, blame me.

Derek in His Own Words

My primary hobby and professional work have always dealt in different aspects of audio production. I learned how to run live sound at church–where we run mixes for the house and musicians. My work there exposed me to different microphones and maximizing peoples’ voices with a variety of equipment. When Sound Forge rolled out, I moved my work away from a minidisc recorder and into computers.

I graduated from Gardner-Webb University with a major in communications and an interdisciplinary minor in music. The college experience taught me valuable interviewing techniques, recording styles, and collaboration with different personalities to design optimal products. I enjoy special interests ranging from teaching an audio fundamentals course with the Cisco Academy to audio restoration and Internet broadcasting on such stations as TBRN, where I am joined by Patrick Perdue and other talented personalities.

I am no stranger to SPN. You’re familiar with my work if you’ve been a fan of Triple Click Home and High Contrast, among other imaging products around the Network. In my new role my creativity will be stretched, and while there are moments when it can feel daunting, I am blessed to count on a community so willing to pitch in their assistance. If there is something that is missing that you want to see, let me know. I’ll be monitoring the SAMNet forums, and doing what I can to act on your ideas.

SPN and SAMNet are solid platforms. I can’t wait to work with you to make it stronger and better than ever.

Hope In Her Own Words

I grew up in a small town in Ohio. My family encouraged me to do what I wanted to do and not let my blindness stand in my way. Even though it really scared my mom, she encouraged me to cook on the stove, ride bikes, build tree houses and hit the ski slopes in Vermont.

Music helps me in so many ways. It is my water colors; my clay, my garden. It allows me to create, and, put into music emotions that words alone could never begin to fully express. As long as I can remember, music has been a part of my everyday life. I love playing the piano, the Celtic harp, the accordion, the recorder and really just about anything I can use to produce notes. My attempt at the violin was brief, though at least I was able to calm the screeching cat I initially produced. I enjoy singing, almost as much as I enjoy playing, though I love choral singing and hope to do it again one day.

My interests are pretty diverse. I enjoy cooking. It’s intriguing to combine a number of ordinary ingredients to create something memorable. Maybe that’s why I enjoy the way some authors can string a few words to create awesome plots. I love epic fantasy, thrillers, and yes, even a few well-written Nora Roberts books now and then. I also love to travel; to see new places and experience the way people work within different cultures.

I’m a very curious person. When I learn something, I want to learn as much as I can from it. The same thing can be said for when I take on projects. It’s either all or nothing. If I take on a task for someone, I know that I gave it my best. Those are the attributes I plan on contributing to Serotek and for you, our loyal followers.

Current Momentum

Our guys have been hard at work rebuilding the wonderful platform you know and love.

Over on SAMNet, an awesome feature of the Accessibility Anywhere package, the user forums have been hopping with suggestions we’ve been able to tackle on your behalf. Among other fixes, we’ve improved the organization of the described audio library to better help you find what you’re looking for. We’ve revamped the sound quality where you told us it was lagging. You wanted to see recent listings in television, not just movies. We heard, obeyed, and we’re looking forward to making other improvements to make SAMNet the place you turn to for the best in information and entertainment in the company of good friends.

We’re proud to report the SeroTalk and Triple Click Home Twitter feeds have been reactivated. If you’re not following, now’s a great time to change that!

Our podcast rosters are bringing back a few familiar voices along with some fresh talent. Technology will always be a staple of the SPN brand, but in the New Year we are branching out to other special interests. You said the world does not revolve around Apple and Android. We hear you loud and clear and have recruited talent to meet you at your interests. We will of course continue relying on the combined wizardry of Derek Lane and Patrick Perdue to create that clean, crisp audio landscape you know and love.

Finally, SPN is more than just a digital tapestry for your ears. We’ve already begun recruiting writers to boost our blog for those of you pressed for time or who prefer the written word to the spoken one. We look forward to covering everything from entrepreneurship to product reviews, from current events to financial management. In time we hope for our blog to play a lead in stimulating great debates over hot topics of impact to the community.

So, yeah, you could say we’ve been busy. Things are definitely looking up, and we really want you to be a part of our upward momentum. Stay tuned for regular programming to resume just around the corner. Sign up for our RSS feed or use the e-mail sign-up form below to get regular updates on current happenings.

Spread the word: SPN … has returned!

Posted in Announcements, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

SeroTalk Podcast 222: where’s my remote?

Listen to SeroTalk Podcast 222: Where’s my remote?

What happens when you put three guys, three computers and one heck of an idea together in the same room? There’s bound to be strategic chaos, but that’s only natural of a product set on disrupting the assistive technology industry.

NVDA Remote Access will give blind users the freedom to enjoy a number of career and educational options. Blind Technical Support Professionals and amateurs alike can Use NVDA Remote access to connect to their clients computers remotely in real time and walk them through multi-step procedures or teach them new applications, techniques and workflows. Educators can hear what their students are doing on their computers and vice versa, providing a perfect environment for hands-on training from afar. Whether in an office down the hall or a datacenter on the other side of the globe, NVDA Remote access will provide powerful, minimal latency access to the Windows desktop via speech.

Actually, we think NVDA Remote Access is bound to lay the groundwork for some exciting innovations for the free screen reader, and we’re counting on you to help get it off the ground. Tune in, as Derek Lane and Patrick Perdue bring you a rather different kind of product demo that will make you look twice at NVDA!

Feel free to send your feedback on this show to

You can always find the latest on this show and others on the SeroTalk Podcast Network

using iBlink Radio for your iOS device, the Kindle Fire, the Mac or your Android device. You can even leave us an iReport right from the iBlink app.

Thanks for listening!

Posted in Assistive Technology, Blindness and Low Vision, Interviews, Podcasts | Leave a comment

Is the Death of the Third Party Screen Reader Really a Good Thing?

These days it seems more voices are adding to a chorus of death to the third party screen reader. Apple fueled a universal hope in the blindness community that if one company could make their products talk straight out of the box, so could the rest of the mainstream. Paying over a thousand dollars for a commercial screen reader is always a daunting prospect, but reducing screen reading choices to a free built-in solution could create its own grim reality.

The current built-in screen readers are insufficient for the blind professional. Apple’s Voiceover, an excellent choice for core functionality, does not grant blind professionals the access to, or flexibility with, a wide range of enterprise products required in the workplace. Actually, these core screen readers sometimes have difficulty with day-to-day tasks. Read Chris Hofstader’s frustrations with OSX.

Microsoft is hardly better. Though they are not last in accessibility, it would be an exaggeration to suggest Narrator has evolved to the point of self-sufficiency. Microsoft may or may not improve on the built-in screen reader in Windows 10. Microsoft may or may not fully incorporate Window Eyes into their operating system, but the blind professional needs to be productive today, not tomorrow.

The Cost of Free Products

Have you read Tim Connell’s take on the cost of free products on the NFB’s Braille Monitor? It’s a thought-provoking piece suggesting free assistive technology is not always better and that a super market approach may sacrifice the level of detail and response only smaller specialists can afford. Read the article in its entirety so you can decide for yourself if my own points are fair or full of bologna.

Here’s an excerpt of the article:

“A growing number of people in the print-disability field are not happy with the status quo and with the fact that specialist products are expensive and not available to all. The prospect of cheap or free products has become the goal that many individuals as well as some agencies are now supporting. When I started to think about this subject, my first question was, “Who is going to support an argument against free products?” “Not many people” is the answer. So perhaps the days of specialist developers and vendors really are numbered. In a world where many problems still exist, particularly in employment, some people need to assign blame and prefer to view the specialist providers as the problem. The cost of a commercial screen reader is viewed as the problem, and getting something free would help solve that problem. However, I keep returning to the supermarket analogy and have come to the conclusion that those small steps of change that occur incrementally mean we may not know what has been lost till it is too late. We may not really be aware of the change that is currently underway in the AT market. The point that is being missed is that it is not the cost of the product that should be our focus, but the ability of the product to fully meet the needs of each individual. Does a keen fisherman get all of his fishing gear at Kmart, or does he go to a fishing gear specialist? Do elite athletes buy all their sporting gear from Target, or do they go to specialist suppliers? Is price going to be the driver to make people successful, or is it getting the best possible solutions that will determine whether people can achieve their potential?”

A few critiques

First, Damn political correctness. I didn’t realize blind people were now part of the “print disability” community. When did the equally dreadful “visually challenged” fall out of style? I can’t keep up!

Sorry, I digress.

Second, while free or cheap is certainly desired among blind professionals, it’s hardly unique to the blindness community. Who doesn’t like a good deal, and in a market where it costs hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars to read a screen, scan a book, and read the Braille, it’s more than fair to ask why manufacturers continue to peddle prices that are rational for government agencies but completely out of step with reality for the individual consumer?

Third, yes, I am guilty of believing screen reading technology ought to be available to all. The assistive technology industry cannot claim small market arguments to justify exorbitant prices and then turn around with prices only accessible to an even smaller piece of that market. Surely the core products and business models have evolved to a point where companies can drop prices and still enjoy a healthy profit.

Next, Connell’s argument about our need to assign blame is perplexing. Is it the author’s claim that consumers do not have the right to complain when they do not get a return on their investment? He makes the point that we should not judge a product by how much it costs, but rather, by how fully it is meeting our needs. From where I’m sitting, and gauging by the comments accompanying my complaint against Freedom Scientific, the so-called specialists are not fully meeting the needs of the blind professional. Surely the elite athlete has the right to complain when the specialty store fails to produce adequate equipment.

Blind professionals recognize the value of the specialist but equally recognize the specialists too often overlook the value of their customers. Despite the prices, blind customers are still paying for the products, and it is not unreasonable to raise expectations for the amount of productivity you get out of that investment.

While the cost of certain blindness apps can sometimes be higher than usual, people still purchase the products because they fulfill a need. You don’t have to look far beyond the KNFB Reader app to prove the blind will pay if the app is solid.

To be fair, there is a uniqueness to the assistive technology arrangement. The industry does not pitch customers. They pitch to agencies with the capacity to meet market prices, and the agencies are too bureaucratic to demand better deals.

Common Ground

By now you may’ve gotten the impression I thought Connell’s article was outrageous. Not so. His overarching argument that pricing should be second to the best solutions could be painting too simplistic a picture of the status quo, but on the whole, Connell makes some valid points we should consider before deciding the third party screen reader should die.

If the industry is indeed drifting toward a single, built-in solution, I worry about what that means for stability. How many Voiceover and Braille glitches persist in iOS 8? How much attention has Microsoft given Narrator in its regular updates to Windows 8 and later in 8.1? Apple and Microsoft feature excellent accessibility lines, but these teams can only respond to what their products offer today. They are not in the position to execute accessibility bug fixes overnight.

Perhaps there’s comfort in the devil we know? JAWS can be nerve-wracking. Professionals want to squeeze advanced features out of the consumer-friendly System Access. Window Eyes is…Well, it’s Window Eyes. I mean no insult. I’m just too much of a simpleton to understand their command logic, and NVDA always seems to be on the verge of dying if they don’t generate enough donations, but by golly, there’s something to be said for on-the-fly choices when one application can work around an accessibility issue better than the others. I believe I would have already switched to a Mac if there was a logical alternative to Voiceover, which is extraordinary on iOS but worthy of a few offensive gestures on OSX.

Screen readers have generally reached a plateau. This is not because there is nothing else that can be done to make screen readers better. It’s because manufacturers are not devoting as much creative thinking to adapting their product to emerging apps.

Final Thoughts

Am I selling out after railing against my perceived evils of certain companies? I like to do my tiny part to keep them accountable, but I am always going to fall on the side of choice for the blind professional who needs more than one option to get things done.

Perhaps the Freedom Scientifics of the world are also betting Apple and Microsoft will soon dominate the screen reading market, rendering their solution irrelevant. Maybe that’s the best explanation for the general plateau we’re experiencing. If so, we may be in for a rough ride.

The current screen reader landscape could be far better than what it is. Yet, competition creates choice, and choice makes for greater productivity. Microsoft has had ample time to make something extraordinary happen with Windows 8. Maybe something will surprise us in Windows 10 under the new CEO, but I’m not holding my breath. Even if we are pleasantly shocked, I will still consider it a really good thing if customers can continue enjoying a diverse market to get their work done as sighted peers. Whatever Mr. Connell may believe, the blind do appreciate and pay for good products.

Okay, let me have it. If you think built-in screen readers and universal accessibility is preferable to the third party screen reader we love to hate, let me know about it in the comments!

Posted in Assistive Technology | 14 Comments

What is Net Neutrality and Why Should I Care?

The best way to think of net neutrality is to think about the telephone. When you pick up your telephone, you can call whomever you want, say whatever you want to say, and your telephone company can’t regulate any of it. They can’t choose to connect your neighbors’ calls faster than yours. They can’t disconnect your call if they decide you’ve spent too much time chattering over the phone line.

The Internet has always been approached in a similar fashion. Your speeds depend on the quality of your service. Dial-up connections using copper cables are not going to move as fast as fiber networks, but once you’re on the Internet, the Google website should be as readily available as Yahoo, Netflix as available as Hulu, etc.

Net neutrality seeks to maintain the open nature of the Internet. Supporters want to keep the environment decentralized. This makes it possible for people and companies to conduct business without interference from a third party, unlike countries like North Korea where the Internet is no more than an Intranet closely censored by its government.

But, it’s more than just an open Internet. There are cable companies that want the ability to charge content providers like Netflix more to stream movies. Now, you may or may not be a Netflix subscriber, but we’re talking about cable providers appointing themselves gatekeepers of what is and is not easily accessible. A cable provider could severely hinder or block access to a competitor’s website. Ten years ago that would have not mattered, but these days we see a small landscape of mega corporations with vast interests across print, web, music, and video content. Think of Comcast prioritizing NBC over other networks. Can you imagine a world where a handful of companies can control what you can access and hike prices up to access it?

Now, on the other side of the aisle, opponents of net neutrality see nothing wrong with a tiered service. Bandwidth hogs should pay more to move their packets of data faster. The revenue generated from these fees can help pay to expand broadband access to underserved consumers.

Besides, the Internet has already proven to be anything but neutral since larger companies pay for more servers and high-bandwidth services. Activity like file transfers are more likely to take priority over real-time communication. Some networks are not prepared to handle the surge from popular streaming services, which could deteriorate quality of service for all customers on that network.

Think of it this way, Google and Skype can clog up the pipes for free calls we spent billions to build. Why shouldn’t they pay their fair share to maintain these pipes?

Pros and cons aside, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made a mistake when it classified Internet service providers as information services instead of telecommunication services. That means the FCC cannot keep AT&T, Verizon and others from prioritizing some content providers over others.

Okay, so why should you care?

First, if content providers like Netflix have to pay more to move their data, guess who’s going to pick up the bill? Here’s a hint, it’s not going to be Netflix! The same could be true of Amazon, Spotify and other services you rely on for multimedia content.

Further, you’re likely to experience changes in the quality of service. The United States already pays among the highest bills for pathetically slow Internet speeds. A tiered system sounds good on the surface, but how much is too much for less than adequate Internet speeds?

Finally, it’s the principle of the matter! We should not have gatekeepers dictating what websites and services can reach customers according to the highest bidder or business agendas. They should not slow down or block content providers they do not like. We should care because it will impact the open access to whatever information you want from whatever source you desire.

But, over to you. What are your thoughts on the debate? Do you think the Internet ought to continue being the open decentralized system it’s always been, or do you feel times have changed and bandwidth hogs should pay for their share of traffic congestion? It’s an issue more of us should closely follow. It’s a topic being debated in the courts, in the news, and pretty soon it’s going to hit your bill.

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SeroTalk Podcast 221: The Good, The Bad, the Future

Listen to SeroTalk Podcast 221: The Good, The Bad, the Future.

Serotek does not simply serve the community; it is very much a part of it. For fourteen years we have faithfully met you where you needed us, so in that spirit of fair exchange, we invite you to listen to a special edition of the SeroTalk Podcast for a candid conversation between Joe Orozco and Serotek’s co-founder, Mike Calvo, to cover everything from the Serotek product line, SPN, staff departures, and more.

Feel free to send your feedback on this show to

You can always find the latest on this show and others on the SeroTalk Podcast Network

using iBlink Radio for your iOS device, the Kindle Fire, the Mac or your Android device. You can even leave us an iReport right from the iBlink app.

Thanks for listening!

Posted in Interviews, Podcasts, Serotek, SPN Special | 15 Comments

High Contrast Episode 27: Blind Hockey

Listen to High Contrast Episode 27: Blind Hockey

Have you ever heard of blind hockey? If so, did you scratch your head and wonder how such a visual game could be enjoyed and played by both blind and low vision hockey enthusiasts? This month, Maurie spoke with Kevin Shanley, co-founder of both the New York Nightshades blind hockey club as well as Courage USA, a spinoff of Courage Canada. Kevin spoke of his introduction into blind hockey and his experiences at the annual Courage Canada Blind Hockey Tournament in Toronto, Ontario. Kevin’s hope is to bring the sport below the Canadian border so we can eventually have some true international competition and perhaps be involved in the birth of blind hockey as a paralympic event. Kevin explains how it works and the rule changes that make it possible for blind and low vision athletes to work together and exhibit a pretty impressive athletic competition.

Historic Movement in Blind Hockey includes a video of the first Courage USA blind hockey event discussed in Maurie’s interview with Kevin Shanley.

Courage USA Brings the Sport of Blind Ice Hockey to America

2015 Courage Canada National Blind Hockey Tournament to Take Place Feb 13-15

For information about registering for the 2015 Annual Courage Canada Hockey Tournament in Toronto,

Matt Morrow, Courage Canada Executive Director


Courage USA

Christine Osika, Courage USA Co-Founder and Vice President or

Interested in developing your skills?
If you live in upstate New York, here are 2 organizations ready to hear from you:

New York Nightshades in Newburgh, NY

Kevin Shanley and Christine Osika

Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired

CABVI is in search of blind or visually impaired individuals who would like to play hockey! Beginning in 2016 CABVI will introduce its new blind hockey program. Please contact Kathy Beaver, VP of Rehabilitation, at (315) 797-2233 for more information or to express interest.

How can you find out what our hosts are up to outside the podcast?

Follow Maurie Hill on Twitter

Check out Maurie’s writing on the AI Squared Zoomed In Blog

Follow Rodney Edgar on Twitter

Check out Rodney on the Tech Access Weekly Blog and Podcast

Follow Byron Lee on Twitter

Check out Byron’s Website

Feel free to send your feedback on this show to

You can always find the latest on this show and others on the SeroTalk Podcast Network

using iBlink Radio for your iOS device, the Kindle Fire, the Mac or your Android device. You can even leave us an iReport right from the iBlink app.

Thanks for listening!

Posted in Blindness and Low Vision, High Contrast, Interviews, Podcasts | Leave a comment

SPN Feedback Special 6

Listen to SPN Feedback Special 6

The SPN team has a lot to be proud of–hundreds of hours of content, some great interviews–but most of all, we value you, our listeners. We take this special opportunity to recognize the love you have shown to us and try to return that love and appreciation in a very small way. This SPN special salutes you, our listeners. Thank you all for everything you have done for us!

Posted in Podcasts, SPN Special | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

SeroTalk Podcast 220: Kids Scare Me

Listen to SeroTalk Podcast 220: Kids Scare Me

Join Jamie, Lisa and Buddy as they discuss the top stories of the week. Then, Joe Orozco talks health and fitness with Bill Kociaba. Join Bill as he works out on Blind Cafe and let’s get fit for the holidays!

A T Talk

Comcast announces Talking Guide, a Siri for your cable box; teases smart home features

A Touch-Free Smartphone the Disabled Can Control With Their Heads

Refreshable Braille gets an engineer’s touch

Braille Authority of North Amaerica offers a free new publication to help readers transition to the new UEB code

Blind U.S. Army Captain Teaches Us to Keep Learning and Serving!

NVDA now supports Goldwave 6

Jazz up therapy with the MusicGlove!

The holiday gift guide issue of AccessWorld is now available! Gear up for the holidays here

When should we react, when should we let it go?

Mainstream Matters

YouTube’s Music Key: Can paid streaming finally hook the masses?

Microsoft Rolls Out Skype for Web Beta

Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life

iPhone 6 outselling iPhone 6 Plus by 3-to-1 margin in US

Nexus 6 smartphone marks first carrier release

Google Glass Losing its Glitz? Early Adopters, Developers Quietly Skulking Away

Why You Should Ignore Everything You Have Been Told About Choosing Passwords


Blog Comment from Dave:

Hi guys! I really enjoy the show! You all do a great job presenting in a way that is quite entertaining. Totally agree with the observations of Mr. Whitaker. Remember those dogs are not guide dogs if the harnesses are elsewhere. That is your driver’s license equivalent! I was going to put these comments into an I report and voice them, but considering the poor quality of mobile phone connections, I believed it served better if they were written, so there you are! Early happy Turkey day to the team, and please do keep it up!

Blog comment from Jake:

Hi everyone. I just listened to podcast episode 219, and I’d like to comment on the ending segment where Buddy Brannan interviewed Art Schreiber. That segment was fun. I am a huge Beatles fan, and it was cool hearing Art describe his and John Lennon’s monopoly games. Sometime I want to go to the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, but for now I will just have to dream about it I guess. Art’s book sounds excellent. Anyway, great podcast as always and keep ‘em coming! I love iBlink Radio!

Listen to Lisa’s interview with Fleksy on SeroTalk Podcast 214


10 Little-Known Units of Time

How 18 inmates at California’s notorious San Quentin prison learn to code

Five-year-old passes Microsoft exam

The Twitter song

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SeroTalk Podcast 219: Journey of Discovery

Listen to SeroTalk Podcast 219: Journey of Discovery

Activate this link to sign up for a new account on Audible and get one free book.

Our recommended book for this episode of the podcast is Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs written by Yukari Iwatani Kane.

Listen to Lisa Salinger’s demo of setting up a new Audible account using System Access.

We thank Audible for sponsoring this episode of the SeroTalk Podcast.

Jamie, Ricky and Joe are back for another round of news stories in this week’s podcast. After the news, Buddy Brannan sits down with veteran journalist Art Schreiber to talk about his friendship with the Beatles, the current state of the news industry and his new book Out of Sight – Blind & Doing All Right.

Topics covered in this week’s podcast include:

Independence Day

And the audio version of this story is here.

Microsoft Had To Blindfold Me To See The Future

Cities Unlocked: Lighting up the world through sound – YouTube

: Braille printer leads $62m Intel injection for 16 startups

Listen to Buddy Brannan’s interview with Shubham Banerjee, on SeroTalk Podcast 188.

3 Tips for Teaching Young Children with a Visual Impairment How to Become Strong Readers

Braille and Large Print Menus Bring Dining with Dignity

Spread the word and the holiday cheer – @BraillePress has print/braille holiday cards on sale now.

Skype 6.22 JAWS scripts released, typing indicator fixes and over ten more things.

BBC iPlayer Now withAudio Description

Switching From iOS to Android

Eloquence v1.1.7 released

The first phone with Android 5.0 Lollipop is… the 2014 Moto X?!

Amazon Unveils Echo, a Speaker With a Siri-Like Voice Assistant

Office for iPhone Apps: 3 Things to Know

CBS brings a round-the-clock streaming news network to cord cutters

Shaking off Spotify is easy for Taylor Swift; for everyone else, it’s complicated

The top 20 catchiest songs of all time, according to science


From @blind_educator
Good MailBag, good MailBag, you’re back home. YOu were a good MailBag.

Hey there Ms. Enger, Mr. Pauls, and Mr. Steinkamp,

I return MailBag to you nice and clean. I brushed MailBag’s teeth, cleaned behind the ears, and got MailBag ready for the winter. We both had a wonderful time, MailBag tried sharing some Sero Tek secrets, but told MailBag it wasn’t a good thing giving out secrets when someone is trusting MailBag to keep them. We talked about what was good and bad, and MailBag seems to understand. I have no idea why Ms. Enger is the only person that MailBag behaves somewhat. A lot better then Mr. Steinkamp or Mr. Pauls. But I guess MailBag is star stricken because of the Rock Star from EOLShow.

By the way, Mr. Steinkamp if there are some charges on your credit card. MailBag share your card with me. We wanted to see if ApplePay is accessible. So I have it as part of my ApplePay. I have Triple Click Home folks and That Android Show peeps coming over for lunch. Between MailBag and myself, we’re going to see if they can start playing nice and stop the bashing between the 2 shows. I promise not to go over $1,000. Unless MailBag gets really hungry. Please, please, do not over feed MailBag over the holidays, and get all that is on MailBag’s Christmas list. Or wise, MailBag will start acting up again.

Have a good one. Awesome show, keep it up. Really enjoy the trio.

Blog comment from Steven Whiteker:

Thanks again for a wonderful podcast! I agree that when you have a guide dog or a service dog, you need to comply with all laws and also be a responsible person

From Pam Francis:

Hi folks,
As a young child, I was very fortunate to have had a sight-saving teacher take an interest in me & my ability to read as a student of the Missouri school for the blind.
At the time, my vision was considerably less than it is now; yet no one knew the course it would take. Therefore I was taught both braille & print simultaneously. Though I spent most of my school day in a braille atmosphere, I had minimally an hour a day with a sight-saving class working with the print alphabet. I could not read large print at the time. My teacher took a purple crayon to copy stories on to the cream colored paper we had with light green lines.. I was to read that story & come back the next morning explaining what I had read.
I did not realize how valuable that resource would be until I was mainstreamed in the middle of my 4th grade year through the end of my 7th grade year.
I basically did double homework. I learned to type & spell without braille contractions in order to turn my work in to my sighted teachers while making a copy for myself in braille in order to follow along with the class.
My Father spent time in Federal prison. While incarcerated, he took it upon himself to learn braille in order to communicate with me. He initially learned on a slate & stylus. More than once I had to translate many backwards lines of braille in his letters. He finally got a lavender braille writer. We all know how crappy they were.He ultimately got pretty good. He took it upon himself to teach other inmates as a resource they could use on the outside to help break down the communication barriers between the blind & sighted community.

I also had an experience with a pre-school class attempting to explain braille.
I wrote the print letter on a chalkboard with its braille counterpart underneath, explaining how the dots worked. We had a project of baking heart-shaped cookies; as it was near Valentine’s day. As a means for the kids to find their cooky, we used small cinnamon beads to form their names in braille in the cooky dough. They had to pick out their cooky with their names written in braille.
Pam Francis


Why Are Elections on Tuesdays?

Richard Bernstein to Become First Blind State Supreme Court Justice

A great scene from the West Wing for election day, “Do you know if I have to be preregistered or something?”

Cranky Cortana
Low-vision Ranch
Joe Steinkamp for President
Audible book: The Haunted Empire
Out of sight: Blind but doing all right

Posted in Assistive Technology, Blindness and Low Vision, Interviews, Podcasts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments