Thursday, January 31, 2008

Press Release: Nonprofit Launched to Bring Free Accessibility Worldwide


Nonprofit Launched to Bring Free Accessibility Worldwide



The AIR Foundation committed to ‘accessibility is a right’



Media Contact:

Janelle Schulenberg

Tacet Consulting

612-720-1068

janelle@tacetconsulting.com



Orlando, Florida – January 31, 2008 – The AIR Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn. was announced today at a press conference held during the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) 2008 National Conference at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Florida. The mission of the foundation is to promote universal accessibility so that every blind and low-vision person in the world has access to digital information over the Internet and Worldwide Web.



The foundation’s executive director, Art Schreiber, also announced that the organization’s first offering will be free usage of a Web 2.0 accessible screen reader. The product is provided through an exclusive license in perpetuity granted to The AIR Foundation from Serotek Corporation, the leading provider of Internet and digital information accessibility software and services. The screen reader is called SA To Go and is powered by Serotek’s award-winning System Access software which provides immediate text to speech, magnified visual, and Braille access to digital information presented through the Web or other means, while the user is directly connected to the Internet. The software does not remain resident on the user’s computer when the connection to the Internet is interrupted or terminated. Users can obtain access to the free software by calling 877-369-0101 or visiting www.AccessibilityIsaRight.org.



“The basic tenet of The AIR Foundation is that accessibility is a fundamental human right, regardless of financial or geographic constraints” said Art Schreiber, executive director of The AIR Foundation, “by allowing the blind and visually impaired to have equal access to computer and Internet information through the free use of an advanced screen reader like SA To Go, we have already taken great strides toward our mission.”
The AIR Foundation will solicit funds and contract development of product enhancements including availability in other languages. The organization’s first priority is to make SA To Go available in Mandarin Chinese.



“SA To Go is highly intuitive and requires minimal training to use,” said Serotek CEO, Mike Calvo, “the user not only has access to information displayed on Web pages, but to Web-based applications such as Internet telephone service, and to applications resident on the host computer. The user can also access PDF files, fill out forms, and otherwise interact with information with the same facility as a sighted person.”



The AIR Foundation will operate through the generosity of organizations donating their time, expertise, and funds. It invites other nonprofits, assistive technology vendors, mainstream hardware and software companies and anyone interested in promoting accessibility as every person’s right, to align with the AIR team.



The AIR Foundation



The AIR Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate, teach, and deliver information accessibility tools. We focus on the accessibility needs of blind and low-vision people. Our mantra is “accessibility is a right” and we work with corporations and agencies worldwide to deliver free accessibility to all. For more information, call 877-369-0101 or visit www.AccessibilityIsaRight.org.



Serotek Corporation



Serotek Corporation is a leading technology company that develops software and manufactures accessibility solutions. Committed to the mission of providing accessibility anywhere, Serotek launched the first online community specifically designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Since then, Serotek has introduced several powerful, affordable solutions that require minimal training and investment. For more information, visit www.serotek.com.

5 comments:

ryanrain said...

All I can say is, someone gets it!
No matter what the name is, you guys always have.
I believe what you've done has just changed the world of accesibility for good.
Best of luck to any project in the future and thanks for breaking down walls of limitations.

JD said...

It is not in the best interest of blind people to accept
this kind of assistive technology.
To put it bluntly Serotek is peddling crippleware.
Developing a screenreader and then distributing it with artificial
technical restrictions is unethical; it does not at all reflect
where the state of the art is at with regard to assistive
technology.
Would a sighted person accept computers where the mouse
only functioned when the network cable is plugged in? Certainly not!
Would a gamer accept a game where 3D accellaration only worked
while the internet was up? Certainly not!
The issues of Internet access and computer accessibility
are orthogonal.
Please, for the sake of the blind people of the planet,
could you guys adopt a more ethical business model.

dean1987 said...

well you can buy system access as a standard desktop screenreader just pay a little and think about it most computers are connected to the internet all the time any way.

Dan Aunspach said...

JD, you couldn't be more wrong.

You asked, "Would a sighted person accept computers where the mouse
only functioned when the network cable is plugged in? "

Well, I use an Internet tablet that has no keyboard. In fact, to realize the full potential of this product, I need to have access to a wireless Internet connection. This tablet was not free, in fact, it sells for as much as the commercial System Acess Mobile product. Am I at all dissatisifed or surprised? Certainly not! The tablet I use is worth every penny and does the job for which it was purchased.

What possible harm can come from distributing a fully tested, commercial product to its intended audience free of charge? This isn't some malware or virus we're talking about, it's an accessibility tool. If you want a hammer, buy a hammer. If you are given a hammer for free, don't complain that it has a wooden handle instead of titanium. If you want or need titanium, then for goodness sake, buy it.

You fail to realize that this offering will help open doors to employment, entertainment and communication that were unavailable to so many people simply because they aren't in the same income bracket as yourself.

Why don't you go bash One Laptop Per Child while you're at it?

dinesh said...

All I can say is, someone gets it!
No matter what the name is, you guys always have.
I believe what you've done has just changed the world of accesibility for good.
Best of luck to any project in the future and thanks for breaking down walls of limitations.