SeroTalk 227: These Raised Dots Spell Controversy

Download SeroTalk 227: These Raised Dots Spell Controversy or use the audio player below the show notes to tune in.

On this episode, the audiobook recommendation from Audible comes to us via Katie, who recommends Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz, which you can download for free at

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Tech Headlines

These are the tech headlines that popped up since we last got together:

Microsoft’s new Surface 3 tablet: Hands-on review

Verizon Wireless Customers Can Now Opt Out of ‘Supercookies’

TrueCrypt security audit is good news, so why all the glum faces?

Microsoft will not enable Do Not Track by default in Project Spartan

Apple Watch for Sale in Retail Stores by Reservation Only, No Walk-In Sales

Apple will let you trade in your Android phone toward a new iPhone

Gmail for Android Gets a Combined Inbox View, Better Search, and More

Want to secure your social info? Facebook shows you how

Amazon takes on Angie’s List with handymen for hire

Comcast Speeding Up Its Broadband With 2-Gigabit Fiber Service

Samsung patents tech that lets you control your phone with your eyes

9th Circuit rules Netflix isn’t subject to disability law

Accessibility Talk

Don’t forget! Registration for the 8th annual ACVO/StokesRx National Service Animal Eye Exam opens April 1

Of course, the announcement may be irrelevant since ‘Robot on reins’ could soon replace guide dogs

Facebook Wants Your Business To Learn From Its Accessibility Efforts. You’ll note Joe expresses a bit of skepticism. Of course, after recording, the AFB’s AccessWorld® comes out with a positive take on the site’s accessibility. Check that out here.

Elsewhere in tech accessibility, or evolution, we have Five years ago the iPad changed clicks to touches – but another tablet revolution is coming.

And on a more serious note, here are 7 huge disability issues you may not know about, or at least your general peers may not be aware of them.

And, it seems the question persists: Is Braille Obsolete?

By the way, did you hear our very own Laine is being honored this month? Laine Amoureux – National Achievement Awards

Human Interest

In human interest, A Blind Mman Flies a Plane for the First Time But, what about everyone else? When You Realize You’ll Never Get Your Dream Job.

From the Mailbag

From Juan:

Hi guys,
Thank you for your good work. A shout out goes to my paisano Joe Orozco, and another shoutout to the pretty ladies who make The podcast possible. I liked the comment about how Audible portrays hispanics with a thick accent. I live in California, but when I attended the Louisiana Center for the blind, I received negative feedback from those around me over there, as they weren’t accustomed to being around a Mexican American. I do believe that as being blind and Mexican-American, I am as equal as those who are black, white, Asian and cited.

On another thought, I enjoy the way you guys present the Podcasts With brief useful information, and thoughts about the articles; and on the same time not get off tangent. I also like how you guys have provided more of the users’ feedback publicly, as a lot of the topics that you present are very sensitive in the blind community. And sometimes need more discussion from several points of view, so that we can all be educated, and feel better about Sensitive issues.
I could say more, but then I would be publishing a free book online.

Keep up the good work.


Juan Avila

From Jenine,

Hello Joe, Katie and Laine,

Joe, thank you for noting that your article’s title was more about the marketing than the actual sentiment that guide dogs are necessarily a bad idea.

OK, let me put on my school hat here and say that I work in the Consumer Services department of the Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs. We serve people with guide and service dogs and my job is talking to those who are considering partnering with a dog for a variety of needs.

I like your points, Joe, and often point out such things myself. I’ve heard the argument that the guide dog school literature can be cloying and overly syrupy about our experiences with the dogs. Yes, this can be true to a point but most of us will admit that we are pretty psyched when that brand new dog allows us to do something we’d never been able to do before and we can’t help but gush about it. I think many of those gooey sentements are heart felt and true at the time. Then we return to our normally cynical grumpy selves and realize we were blathering. grin

That said, I think another thing that gets people into trouble when considering any type of assistance dog is that we do make the dog life style look so good, so comfortable and easy that it sure can smell like The Cure!

“If I just a dog, I’ll be able to get around without being scared or nervous or just frustrated.”

I see many people who do fairly well at the limited mobility tasks they have but want to do more. Most who come to guide dog class are ready but some are not. I try to explain to people that the difference between getting there with a cane and with a dog is like riding a bicycle versus driving a car. the car is going to go a lot faster with more force and though you’re in control to a point, the car will also behave as it will given physics.

There’s another saying I love from a guide dog instructor. “You have to learn to skate before you can play hockey.” that was said of the process it takes to be ready for a guide dog.

The conflicts created by denial of access can hit people hard. You’re on this high and then someone utters that phrase “No dogs!”

Even if it’s a simple misunderstanding, if you are not ready for it or you have never really learned to deal with conflict, it can seem like the end of the world. this is very true for some of the people we serve who have hidden disabilities. They have the dogs to assist with social anxiety and Voila! Having the dog causes social anxiety. It’s a jarring thing.

We are one of the programs that has shortened its training time to 2 weeks. I can say, because it’s a huge part of my job, that we have not lessened the amount of training we give people on the ADA and other laws and public access. that said, there is never enough time to fully discuss and remember all of those things during the standard 3.5 week class much less a shortened time frame.

Your point about contacting your school for assistance is great! that’s my job in part as well, to help people figure out what to do about violation of their rights, or if their rights were in fact violated.
Sadly, so many people seem to be afraid of their guide dog schools. We grant ownership upon graduation and still people are afraid to call us because they think if they have done something wrong, we will take their dogs away. We don’t have that power. We don’t want to take anyone’s dog away either, too much paperwork. grin

Seriously though, it’s got to be a partnership and if you feel it isn’t, the good news is that you have choices in this country, unlike many other areas of the world.

Is a guide dog right for everyone? Obviously not or everyone would have one. It’s a huge commitment and there are days, especially with a new young dog as I have, when I wonder what I was thinking. Then we negotiate some tricky obstacle and I remember why I have him. I’ve also become a much better cane user since getting a dog. I can’t exactly explain why but it happened.

So everyone enjoy your mobility choices and remember, practice makes, if not perfect, at least pretty darn good.

Thanks Jenine, and here are some relevant articles you guys may enjoy reading on the subject of service animals:

From Brad:

Interesting items again this time crew.

Glad you didn’t apologize for your dog-gone dog comments Joe. You got people reading with that ear-turnign headline, a marketers trick there. But, you got people to dig in why it is good to have a dog, you sly dog you. Oops, pun intended I guess.

I found the topic of opting out of restoring sight if given an opportunity pretty interesting. I’ve heard others say that too.

Me? I’d do it yesterday. There are limits to invasive techniques I’d never do however. But, give me eyeballs, and I’d relearn whatever I needed to. I realize I’ve spent over half my life thus far as a sighted person, so I know that weighs in huge. I might not feel the same when the scale tips toward the other side a bit.

That said, I don’t go around flinching at every article that talks about hope for us RP folks either, spend my days boo-whooing feeling sorry for myself, or giving up on life today with it’s opportunities and activities just because I have a vision issue.

I’ve ran the gamut on emotions over many years starting as a fully sighted person all the way to what I guess would be considered light perception. Blurry shapes and hues to either help me with mobility, or pulling an unsuspecting half-sighted joke on me if I allow it. There’s a ton of us out there, and not just RP folks either.

I understand Joe’s apprehension on losing usable sight, and the disappointment or adjustment needs to follow.

I remember one particular time years back when RP was more clinically documented than a daily life changing deal for me. My wife and I were all jazzed up about taking up racquetball.

We were financially strapped as a younger couple with two single-digit aged kids, and this was a big deal for us. We really were jazzed about joining the YMCA and having a weekly date wacking the snot out of each other on the racquet court.

So, we get on our garb, head to the reserved court, and grip those racquets with GI Joe’s Kung Fu grip… not you Joe, we know you could easily wup up on the real-life GI Joe just by staring him down. Anyway…

The gentleman I am, I let my wife wack the ball first while half-crouching facing the far end of the court ready to do business.

All I heard was the whop of her racket, an echo on the wall in front of me, and the ball bouncing around like popcorn in an air popper.

I didn’t see a freakin’ thing. It never occurred to me at that point, with RP I’d never see a fast moving ball, much less track it.

With my wife saying, “What’s wrong, why didn’t you hit it?” I had to explain there was no way I was going to be able to do this.

I felt like crying like a baby with its bottle plucked from its sucking mouth. I felt like I’d let her down, like I let her believe a lie, like I disappointed her; and yet it wasn’t my fault. I was taken in just like she was that this was going to be a new activity for us.

Rpers have the distinct privilege of fielding many different stages of loss, and we have an excellent opportunity to crawl in a whole and not come out if we so choose.

But, we also find our strength, resourcefulness, and maybe even get a little hacked off and determined when we’ve had enough of this limited-life bulldung.

In the end, yes, blindness is a nuisance, well, sometimes more, sometimes there is advantages, but overall a nuisance.

But we go on, life is good, and we have opportunity to achieve our goals in spite of it and serve hopefully as role models to those who watch us from a distance. Somehow, it all works out if we want it to.

Good job again this time boy and girls.

SeroTalk Extra Feedback

Listen to our SeroTalk Extra Tech Chat Edition episode.

From Mike Arrigo:

Enjoyed the show about the Apple watch. I won’t be getting one for several reasons. For one thing, I usually don’t buy the first version of anything, I would rather wait and let them work the bugs out first.
Second, I just don’t see the point. What would a watch give me that my phone doesn’t already do? It may sell at first just because it’s a new thing, but I agree that it’s a solution in search of a problem.
I think Mike is right about IOS 8. It’s ok now, but I am so glad I waited until after several updates before leaving IOS 7. Even on mac OS 10.10, there are still a few issues that it has compared to 10.9. If Steve were still here, I’m sure he would have never tolerated that kind of quality.

From Dave:

Hi, Dave from Vincennes In.
One comment as far as pc versis mobile phone/tabs. I like 3rd party s.a’s because of the bigger variety of voices. You don’t have that option of 3rd party voices with mobile phones or tabs. With maybe, one exception. I was attrackted to My Iphone because right from the factory it had some voices so I can opporate the phone and alot of apps. I like neo vlice paul for my lap top wich, is a windows computer but Paul is not available for my Iphone. Keep up the great work Serotech!

From Ken:

Hello SeroTalk Team,


I normally restrict comments for podcasts like SeroTalk to resources for people asking for help finding products or services. My views tend towards the unpopular and since I am not within the Assistive Technology community are condescendingly dismissed as being from an uninformed dullard. This is a simplified paraphrase of the adtual comments about the points that I make but the purport is correct.

Personal History on Commenting

Several years ago, I sent a question to Joe Steinkamp for another SeroTalk tech chat type show. He asked for questions from the community. VoiceOver NVDA and mobile platforms were touted as soon killing off proprietary third party Windows screen readers at the time. Mr. Steinkamp did a reasonable job of expressing my views. My points were:
· The Mac was not widely used in the workplace and was not robust enough for it
· NVDA was not robust enough for the workplace and did not appear to be developing fast enough to be a viable workplace solution in the near future
· Mobile platforms were and still are poor environments for creating professional level documents.
My question was just how realistic was it for people planning to work outside of the Assistive Technology and blind support services industries to abandon the third party Windows screen readers? My cautions were dismissed because I was unduely pessimistic about the rate of change for the technologies and only a dullard would raise the issue.

I have had similar responses when commenting beyond simply offering resources in other cases.


I am glad that a large part of the SeroTalk team of experts have come around to my views on the death of Windows and the end of laptops and desktops.

Screen Reader Double Standard

I beg to differ with Mike Calvo about not holding Operating System screen reader developers like Apple to the same standard as third party Windows screen reader developers. If Matt Campbell is correct about the convergents’ of desktop and mobile style OSs squeezing out third party screen readers, the blind community cannot afford to wait for OS developers to decide that they need to improve screen readers within their OS and applications. To many blind people will loose their jobs and will probably not be re-hired into comparable positions.

I lived through the DOS Windows transition and saw Microsoft’s initial assertion of we have given you enough access to the windows OS to enable you third party developers to create screen readers and its policy of benign neglect when challenged about the accuracy of the assertion. While Apple has developed a screen reader, their apparent current stance of we have done enough strikes me as being eerily similar to the early days of Microsoft Windows. I do not want the blind community to go through another experience like the DOS Windows transition with its associated loss of jobs and opportunities for blind people.

Blind Consumer Power

I also beg to differ with Mr. Calvo about the power of blind consumers to change corperate behavior. The fact is that VoiceOver was developed in response to a lawsuit and not to the power of blind consumer advocacy alone. I will point to two other recent situations to emphasize my point about the failure of blind consumer power alone to change corperate behavior.

The Blind Consumer and Cell Phones

My first review is that of the accessible feature cell phone. The following framework is based on my observations of the United States market and is somewhat arbitrary. Due to technological limitations,The first generation of feature cell phones provided both blind and sighted individuals with the same level of accessibility: no screens and maybe some tone based feedback at best.

With the advent of feature phones with screens, the situation changed radically. The second generation feature cell phone provided sighted users considerable enhancements like phone/address books that blind users did not enjoy. Cellular phone providers’ response to complaints by blind people about the lack of access comparable to sighted users was benign neglect at this point. Eventually due to political pressure from the blind community and low level threat of regulatory intervention, cellular providers started providing extremely limited accessible feature phones with no where near the power enjoyed by sighted users.

When truly advanced feature phones started appearing, cellular providers suggested that blind people buy the higher priced phones that could have screen readers added to the phone even if they included unwanted features and by the way the blind consumers were expected to pay full price for both the phone and the screen reader. Eventually again due to political pressure and threat of regulatory intervention, cellular providers started offering subsidies for the screen readers dispite the fact that the phone still cost more than there less powerful cousins.

The next step taken by cellular phone providers was to encourage blind consumers to buy smart phones with built-in screen readers dispite the fact that they both cost more to purchase and operate than their basic feature cousins.

The pending implementation of regulations for the 21st century Communication … act finally led to cellular providers offering blind consumers feature cell phones that are in terms of accessibility nearly competitive with those offered to the sighted. The entire process was driven by political pressure and regulatory power consumer advocacy unless you include political pressure as part of consumer power had virtually nothing to do with the eventual offering of reasonably accessible feature phones that are comparagle to those offered to the sighted. Before you challenge me on current availability of highly accessible feature phones that are comparable to those offered to the sighted, please review the mostly accessible PDF manuals for the Revere three Gusto three and the Kyocera DuraXV on the Verizon Wireless website. My understanding is that other cellular providers are offering screen reader enabled feature phones that are generally comparable to models that are not screen reader enabled with rough price paraty though with far fewer model options.


The analysis of blind consumer power’ alone failure to change corporate behavior is much simpler for E-readers due to short history and regulatory framework. I provide below a URL to the FCC’s website with an extensive statement about a waiver for E-reader produsers:
I leave the reader to draw their own conclusions. In the end the blind consumer only has the option to buy a higher price alternative with possibly unwanted features to the E-reader. If these companies were truly guided by blind consumer advocacy alone, they would develop speech enabled devices comparable with the E-readers already in their inventory with cost increases required to cover adding speech output. A price that I suspect would be lower than those for full featured smart phones and tablets.

Best Regards,
Ken Scott

Get in Touch!

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About Joe Orozco

Joe Orozco is the Communications Director for Serotek Corp. He is also Managing Director for AlphaComm Strategies. When he isn't writing web pages, proposals, and online marketing materials for social and commercial entrepreneurs, he enjoys reading and writing about technology, financial management, and strategic planning. Follow Joe on Twitter @ScribblingJoe
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One Response to SeroTalk 227: These Raised Dots Spell Controversy

  1. Beth says:

    This was a good set of notes! I read the seven disability issues article, and I will never forgive the woman who at least tried to kill her autistic daughter. Killer centered narratives in the paper show how much longer we have until we become a culture of accepting disabled people. I remember reading about Ethan Sailor. He was killed by police because they don’t know how to interact with Down’s Syndrome folks. If only if only someone had known better. We’re also still trying to hide the disabled from the world. I have witnessed the whole thing with group home and Medicaid sponsored care firsthand. I even have Medicaid sponsored home care due to mental stuff. CAn’t explain. But I have friends who are disabled who need anything from a few hours of aid care to like twenty-four-hours nursing care at a home for younger people with diabilities. My friend Caitlin and my other friend Jessica are two examples. Caitlin gets so much aid care a day, and guess what? She is in charge of it. She lives in Georgia. Jessica G. lives in a group home in MA, and she gets 24-hour nurse care due to Spina Bifida. She could’ve done better at home I’m sure, and she is married, so I don’t know how this is done with someone in a group home. Poor Jessica. She has a lot to deal with. As for the figures about nursing home care, this doesn’t surprise me. I wish there were more Caitlins in the world who could determine what and with whom they got care from. I do at least. I’m also horrified that anyone in a group home could still restrict people with disabilities. There’s a guy in Iowa I won’t name who is in a group home and he has restricted access to communicative devices. I’m thinking he has to get that Olmstead lawsuit going because I don’t know the laws but the fedral Olmstead decision may trump whatever Iowa has in place to protect the group home’s staff from this guy. He only gets 1 hour on pc and phone, sucks.
    Just a few examples of what I’ve witnessed as a disabled person who’s gotten to know a whole lot of people. Isn’t the Internet wonderful? Yeah, I know. lol

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