Welcome to this week’s edition of the SeroTalk Podcast where Jamie, Ricky and Joe discuss the top news stories of the week. In addition to the news, Jamie visits with the developers of Fleksy about their decision to release Fleksy VO specifically for the blind community, as well as their plans for future versions of the app.
A T Talk
From Jenine Stanley:
Thanks for another great show, including the coverage of the GW Micro announcement.
But come on, we want to talk more eyeball stories! I have to say that hearing about people’s prosthetic eyes falling out really had me putting off getting my own eye removed for years. Then I learned that it just doesn’t happen that often for most people with good muscle control. My doctor gave me exercises to do to keep my eye muscles strong and that helped.
My two favorite “eye on the loose” stories though are these.
When I was in class getting my first dog in 1987 there was a man who had a prosthetic eye. He was a big guy, tough and all that. He and our instructor got on really well as they were both Vietnam vets, tough guys and all that. Our instructor was one of those old school guide dog trainers who delighted in showing you just how tough he was … until …
One morning the student with the prosthetic eye sneezed hard and well, you can only guess what happened. He was sitting on one side of the instructor and I was sitting on the other. The instructor was so freaked out that he kept dry heaving and stammering that he couldn’t touch the eye.
The student kept saying someone had to get his eye before one of the dogs ate it, probably mine too as she had that unfortunate weakness.
I got down on the floor and started feeling around for the eye with directions from the instructor, between his gagging. Someone from the kitchen finally came out and helped retrieve the eye but whew, it was a long day for that instructor after that one.
The second story happened to a friend. She was riding a roller coaster and when they hit a bump, her eye flew out. She was panicking because she was trying to figure out how to tell the park people and where to look.
She got off the ride and was fussing around when two teenagers came up. The girl was gagging and looked like she was going to truly throw up everywhere. The boy was holding my friend’s eye in his hand. It had flipped back right into his lap. Some first date.
It’s stories like these and the often told and retold one about the dog in guide dog class who eats someone’s eye and then deposits it in the next day’s business, usually shining atop the pile of pooh, that really give such a positive impression of prosthetics. Yep, sometimes our sick humor really isn’t too helpful.
From Pam Francis:
Hi everyone, Thanks for another informative podcast. On the light side, in response to your listener’s comment concerning prosthetic eyes, I knew a girl in high school who had 1 prosthetic eye. If she got upset with someone, on occasion, she would throw her eye at the offending person or target. I am in no way defending her actions. It seemed odd enough that it stuck out in my memories of people in school. Also congrats to GW Micro aligning with Microsoft for those who use later versions of Office. I would be very interested in your opinion referring to GW Micro’s latest move. Do you think they could be dipping their toe in to Microsoft’s waters hoping ultimately to replace Narrator as their default screenreader in Windows? As much as I enjoy my Mac & the voiceover experience, every screenreader has its flaws. I know AI Squared has made enrolls with Apple having been allowed to introduce its Zoomtext as a choice for low vision users on the Mac platform. I would really like to see Apple open it up to other screen readers to give voiceover users usability when voiceover is lacking. It would further accessibility for everyone. I take issue with your stance on Fleksy’s latest move. I understand app & website evolution. Through the years, I have heard your team congratulate Fleksy in its endeavors to make an accessible means of gesture typing on a an onscreen keyboard for everyone. We as a blind community have been sold a bill of goods. We were used as a marketing arm for Fleksy in its endeavor to configure an accessible messaging app without having to look at the screen. I personally, don’t appreciate being used as their guinea pig. If our community was indeed a test market, they should have had the integrity to tell us as much. If they need to make it “pretty” for the sighted community to accept it, they are defeating their purpose by saying one must look at the screen. They can’t have it both ways. We were asked to pay $14.95 when the app launched, & were happy to do so; knowing accessibility isn’t free. We are now relegated to our own version of the app, which on their blog says will be free forever. What a sham!!!!!
We are not segregated per our ISP’s or cell carriers with reference to messaging apps. I am enclosing my communication with Fleksy & their response; which I might add is a direct contradiction to their blog entry.
Hello, Obviously, we as blind consumers are now considered separate, but not equal. We were used as guinea pigs to develop your product. Initially the app was offered for $14.95 on the App Store. After you sucked enough of us in, made us believe you were actually interested in developing something that would allow us to be equal to our sighted counterparts, you then made it free for everyone. That in itself is not as big of a deal as your most recent release of a separate keyboard for those of us who use voiceover. The initial design of the app worked well with VoiceOver anyway. Of course, that was your mode of operation. You wanted us to believe we were something that obviously we are not in your eyes. You excepted the accolades given to you by anyone using an iOS device within the blind community along with various websites dedicated to blind and visually impaired users. Ultimately, you’re not being fair to us relegating us to a separate app. If your market was ultimately the sighted community, you should have marketed that way to begin with. Though we are a minuscule part of the population worldwide, we do have friends who make use of technology. We initially revered your app for its inclusion. This is the 21st-century. We as blind people are no longer in a broom closet sitting around stringing beads for someone else. Your most recent actions have damaged any integrity any future developers would have attempting to develop an app claiming to be useful to those of us who are blind, while asking for our help. We as a blind community are no one’s guinea pig. In my opinion, those of us who paid our hard-earned money initially for your app only to be told we now have a separate app which is free deserve a refund. Shame on you!!
We can offer a full refund to anyone who has paid and is not satisfied for any reason.
We do however, stand by our position.
The separation of the apps is only temporary, and is not because we are targeting sighted users, but because we are transitioning to a mode where the main Fleksy app consumes our own SDK.
Doing Fleksy as an SDK has posed significant technical challenges, and it needs to be 100% robust in order to be used by other developers. It is orders of magnitude harder than simply having our own app on the store. Rest assured, we are making strides and are fully committed to ensuring a great typing experience for our VoiceOver users.
Until we get there, we appreciate your patience.
Best, Kosta Founder @Fleksy
Thank you for your response, I am still of the opinion, making an issue of separating the apps is a step back to the accessibility within our blind community and will damage any future integrity of any developer who may have our interests at heart needing our help as a community to perfect their product. You don’t seem to realize what it means, and has meant to us to be included within the sighted community having the ability to use a single app without worrying about whether or not it was accessible. We as a blind community were used initially to make the app accessible for everyone. That is why it makes no sense to me to separate the apps and make an issue of it to those of us who use voiceover. If you pay attention to your Twitter feed, I’m not the only one who feels this way. I needed more than 140 characters to illustrate my feelings. Again, shame on you!! Your issues with your SDK should not be the issue we as a consumer have to deal with referring to whether or not we have equality within your app. Why release a portion of it making us as the blind community feel as if we are second-class? Do it behind-the-scenes. Do it right. Don’t release it, until it’s correct. Thanks for reading. Pam francis
Your discussion of having more than one screen access program is really quite important. Let me give a real world example of how this plays out. I work 20 hours a week at a genealogy library in the Medford, Oregon area. I use both System Access and Window-Eyes. I also have NVDA loaded on my home system. I have access to WE at my worksite and I have SA on a thumb drive. I do research at multiple websites at work I have both firefox and ie as web browsers. There are sites where SA works more seemlessly than does WE. On the other hand, firefox isn't able to be used with System Access because of the way that our website is configured. Because I also use docuscanplus from Serotek, I am able to scan pdfs in my work. Twice a month we have to fill out timesheets that have to be scanned and sent to the service that pays me, the mighty docuscan is there to save the day so I need less sighted assistance.
Although I can use WE to access my bank’s bill payment system, it is much easier and less of a pain to do what I do with System Access. In other words in terms of access technology, screen readers like web browsers work differently in different situations. Sorry for the long email. Keep up the good work.