Friday, December 9, 2011
Communication: The Themes Remain the Same
By Jeffrey D. Stark
Communication is a very common theme that comes up time and time again in the disability community; whether that's access to information such as printed material or the ability to be included in a conversation. The barriers change as our world changes but the themes and common elements have remained the same over the last 30 years.
In a professional setting being able to communicate and having access to the information being communicated in many cases is the difference between being able to do the job and not being able to do it. If you can't hear the verbal information being provided, or you can't see the information being referenced, you are essentially excluded from an important component of the activity.
I, as a person who is blind, have found myself in this situation many times. If I go to a meeting and all the information is put up on a front projector, then I am essentially excluded from that material. One commonly proposed solution to this is to have the presenter or leader for a given activity read out whatever material they have on the flip chart or front projector. As you can imagine, this is awkward and time consuming at the best of times and doesn't really let me review the material. As computers, laptops and electronic notetakers became commonplace, the proposed solution that used to be common was to distribute the material electronically in advance and hope I could figure out which document, page, slide and information was currently being referenced. If a group wanted to collaborate on the same document or material, then this becomes even less effective because my copy of the material gets more and more stale as the updates to the document occur.
My requirements are not unique and meetings and collaborative sessions have often been a barrier. This area has evolved tremendously over the last 20 years. Unfortunately, until recently many of the solutions were only available as separate solutions that each required a different technology component and required a huge undertaking to provide. Captioning, sign language interpretation, accessible information, accessible flip charts, alternate communication systems were all separate components and all had to be handled separately.
At a recent meeting I attended, for the first time in my career, I was able to play on an equal footing. I had access to the same information as my sighted peers during the meeting and had access to any new information or changes that happened on the front projector. They had this nifty box called an "Accessible Event Hotspot" that acted like an "accessible projector". I connected my laptop to the AE Hotspot and the same information that was projected on the front screen was also pushed out to my laptop. This meant that I could review it in my medium of choice using my technology of choice (a screen reader). As soon as a change happened on the presenter's screen, the same information was provided to me in real time. This same device can also be used to capture and present other channels of information such as captioning and signing. This essentially makes it an all-in-one solution for people who have hearing impairments, visual impairments, or print-related disabilities so participants can take full advantage of all aspects of any on-site or online event or presentation. This technology allows participants with disabilities to access slides, spreadsheets, web pages, documents and real-time captioning.
This is essentially full inclusion, where the various channels of information from the spoken information to the presented information can be supplemented in real time with equivalents that ensure that everyone can participate on a level playing field.
If you’d like more information about Accessible Event or the AE Hotspot, please call (612) 246-4818 or send an email to email@example.com
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Well, to begin on common ground, let's first start by defining what a screen reader is. In the way of an impartial source, we can use the American Foundation of the Blind, which sets forth the following:
"Screen readers are software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer. A screen reader is the interface between the computer’s operating system, its applications, and the user. The user sends commands by pressing different combinations of keys on the computer keyboard to instruct the speech synthesizer what to say and to speak automatically when changes occur on the computer screen."
Well, if we're going by these fundamental guidelines, then System Access is most certainly a full screen reader. Customers can install our product and interact with a growing number of popular applications that facilitate e-mail, word processing, web browsing and other key activities that are essential to daily tasks inside and outside of the office or classroom.
In its early days, it would have been fair to ask if our product could feasibly rise to the challenge of a traditional screen reader. Then again, we never promised more functionality than the product delivered. We understood that in its infancy, the product formerly known as Freedom Box that later included System Access 1.0 was a rudimentary solution with limited use of the off screen model to interact with applications, but even in 2002, many years after the birth of competing products, Freedom Box was hailed by the Teachers.Net Gazette as a product that "opened a new door for the blind and visually impaired, offering a new found freedom and a new kind of life." That was high praise for a product that was so basic compared to the innovation we see today and when compared to the screen readers that had already been enjoying a prominent spotlight in the market.
There are at least three factors that feed people's hesitation to see System Access for what it is:
First, customers respond to marketing tactics that feed on human instinct. When you are sick, and when given a choice between the less expensive and the more expensive treatments, your instinct is to want the more expensive treatment because the higher cost must surely mean that the results are better. The same is true of technology. Accessibility concerns aside, you could buy the new Kindle Fire, or you could put down more money and buy the more expensive iPad because the majority says the latter outperforms the former. So it comes as no surprise that if competing screen readers cost $895 and $1,095, the experience must surely be sweeter. We often hear that not all is peace in paradise, but it's not our place to comment on other companies' ability to live up to expectations.
Second, there is a persistent view that a product cannot be considered a full screen reader if it does not allow for scripting. Such a view presumes that the absence of this feature was an oversight rather than an implementation by design. For the moment, Serotek does not buy into the practice of opening its product to scripting languages, and even if this were to change in the future, it would not be a dominant focus of our development.
To understand this aspect of our approach, it's important to recognize our distinction between user interface and user experience. User interface provides users with a core platform and enough tools to make that platform work for the specific needs of the end user. The manufacturer admits it does not know what the user might want to do with the product, so it provides scripting language support to help advanced users manipulate the platform to fit their needs. Such an approach is by no means a bad one, but it relies on users to devote many hours to learning the scripting language. It also sometimes requires many dollars to gain training if a consumer wants assistance with using the language to interact with and configure access to complex applications.
On the other hand, user experience boils down to nothing more complicated than creating a product that, to borrow Apple's philosophy, just works. Serotek has never claimed to outpace competing products on all fronts. We continue to cultivate a product that works very well for the most popular applications like ITunes, various e-mail clients, Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome and a growing range of social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter. The scope of what System Access can deliver might be painted as limited, but limitations are only as concrete as the real world use of the consumer in question. System Access need not be configurable through scripting if the product is already delivering a solid experience for what it is advertised to accomplish.
Finally, Serotek has a specific customer in mind as it develops new products and services. We are thinking of the consumer who cannot afford to pay for competing products or for the software maintenance agreements to keep those products updated. Starting with monthly payment plans as little as $9.95 per month, System Access is priced well below other options on the market, and we are the only company with enough faith in the evolution of our product and it’s ability to continue to attract new customers to have eliminated software maintenance agreements. Our option is economical enough for people who are recent adopters of screen reading technology who need a straightforward introduction to assistive technology before plunging into murkier waters. It is an economical solution for people who believe in having easy to use yet powerful options instantly at hand.
We are also thinking of the consumer who enjoys the bells and whistles of competing products but require a consistent companion on hand when the competing product crashes or is unable to be installed due to lack of access to admin rights on the target machine. Nothing is more frustrating than encountering silence and having no way to get around it than to reboot the entire system to get things talking again. We would never suggest that System Access is without faults, but as far as offering an approach that delivers immediate and intuitive access, we stand by our commitment to make it work as easily and as consistently as possible. We are also the only company that has developed portable solutions that work under a minute on any PC you plug your thumb drive into with our product or access them via our Internet sites on any compatible version of Windows without the need for admin rights.
So, while we may not be the best choice for the software developer who requires specific tweaks to make her environment inhabitable, we are a perfect tool for the vast majority of users who want to take accessibility on the go and work anywhere, anytime, something best exhibited in the free service available on SAToGo.com. After all, why limit yourself to timed demonstrations when you could take our product for a more uninhibited test drive?
At Serotek, System Access provides a fundamental platform upon which our other services have been launched. We rolled out System Access during the days before we had options like NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA), and in fact, System Access might have never been born if NVDA had been an option back then. As things stood, the only choices were too expensive for a vast majority of blind consumers, and our commitment to making products as affordable as possible is as vigorous today as it was when we released our first beta.
So, is System Access a full screen reader? We believe in presenting you the evidence and letting you decide for yourself. Ultimately, the proof is in the performance and if the product works for your spasific applications. Right?
 Screen Readers. American Foundation of the Blind: Last accessed December 6, 2011
 The Freedom Box, Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Melanson, Dave. Teachers.Net Gazette. Last accessed: December 6, 2011
Thursday, October 6, 2011
I imagine everyone recognizes that the way we interact has changed with iPhone and iPad. Steve gave us the gift of a great communication experience. For blind people, like myself, it is more than that. Steve Jobs opened that modern world fully to me and people like me by making the full experience of his products accessible, out of the box. He had the vision to see me as a customer who wanted to be treated like any other customer and gave me the privilege of walking in a store and paying retail for a product off the shelf that immediately gave me the same access and experience as any person with sight.
If the marketplace were a religion, as I guess it is for some, Steve Jobs deserves to be canonized, not just for his unbelievable marketing successes but for his wisdom and foresight to reach out to the whole market. I can assure you that blind people everywhere would pause before his statue and say a prayer of thanks to whatever deity we believe in for giving us Steve Jobs.
Steve used the quote above to talk about his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer which is what eventually claimed him six years later, but not until he had seen Apple for one brief shining moment rise to be the most valued company on the planet. Not bad for a guy who didn’t graduate from college and who, twenty-five years ago, was fired from Apple, the company he and Steve Wozniak founded. He talked about how dropping out of college and getting fired from Apple were some of the best things that happened to him, opening up new vistas and freeing him to pursue what he loved with the freshness of beginning anew.
It was an inspiring speech that spoke to my heart and I’m sure the hearts of every student sitting in that great outdoor coliseum. And maybe the most important thing he said was that “no one wants to die. Even those who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.” But he added that dying was one of the great gifts of life because it cleared out the old and made way for the new.
And now Steve has cleared out and that leaves us with the challenge of making new experiential products even better than the gifts Steve brought us. And as he said, there is no time to waste because our time to be “cleared out” will soon be upon us. They seem impossibly large shoes to fill and yet if we follow his guidance and “do what we love,” how can we fail?
Rest in peace Steve! You will be missed! All we can do now is try our best to keep your dream of a magical user experience alive.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
What is the Cloud? More to the point: why should you care? It's something I would have asked back in 1997 when I first began using that new platform called Windows and the only clouds I knew were the ones from my cigars or the fog machines in the clubs where I worked as a DJ. Back then, the concept of cloud computing had not been conceived, but the Internet was causing a lot of excited noise about what this new type of communication would mean for people and businesses. I don't think even computer scientists had a clue of how the Worldwide Web would grow into the beast we see today.
Let me put it this way, the Cloud means to our generation what the telegraph meant to the world in the early 19th century. It changed communication. It changed how people viewed the world, and the great thing about inventions is that they build off each other until you sit back and think that things cannot possibly get any better. It's funny now to see that the car phone we once thought was so luxurious did not come close to the smartphones of today, but as you will read, the Cloud is so much more than point to point communication. It's a virtual playground, a global community, a new way of working and playing with friends and colleagues.
Writing this book brought back some interesting memories of the days when I was just getting started with Serotek. Those were the days when we felt good about renting enough servers to hold the work of the company in a safe location. We were proud when we had to rent more servers to keep up with the growth of our operations, but those were also the days when the difference between $100 and $1,000 to get the right hosting package would have been the difference between running with an idea and killing it. Now we're comfortably housed in the Cloud, and you know, I'm not even remotely kidding when I tell you that the sky is the limit.
But seriously, why should you care? In a world of bits and bytes, bandwidth and backups, you need to become a part of the technological evolution. You need to understand that the landscape is changing and there is more to the evolution than texts and Tweets. You cannot afford to be left behind when so much of the world is turning to the clouds to do business. Profit is as much about the funds you can generate from using cloud services as it is about the information you can use in the Cloud to build your personal human capital.
I am writing this book to you no matter where you sit. I am writing to the educator who wants to bring a whole new level of functionality to the classroom. I am writing to the person who just lost their job and is looking for a new source of income to survive. I am writing to the blind person who once had to pick living quarters conveniently located to public transportation, because before the Cloud, we were limited by physical time and distance. I am writing to the eager software developer who has yet to experience the beauty of choosing from a number of platforms to deploy your invention to the big blue sky of cloud possibilities. In short, I am writing to every consumer who wants to get in touch with their inner entrepreneur and act on that passion to make something happen.
The Cloud is an infinite frontier. That isn't to say that all clouds are built equally or that every cloud has a silver lining, but the potential is there. Speaking as someone who went from zero technology know-how to working my way through DOS and finally up to my current Cloud activity, I can tell you that it is not difficult. And it is not too late. I want you to put this book down having learned enough about the environment to proclaim that, you too, are ready to take on this ubiquitous thing we call the Cloud.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Serotek is proud to announce the launuch of the all new SAMNet Radio, your portal to all the great past, present and future podcasts and interviews on the newly launched SeroTalk Podcast Network. We begin with coverage from the 2011 NFB Convention in Orlando Florida. Listen now and please share this link with all your friends, family members and interested persons.
Click Here to Listen to 2011 Convention Coverage on the All New SAMNet Radio!
Thanks and Enjoy!
The Serotek Team
Friday, July 1, 2011
It's convention time again, and as always you can expect SeroTalk to bring you quality coverage from the NFB and ACB show floors. If you're attending one or both of the conventions this year, Serotek has a number of exciting things in store for you.
First, if you'd like the opportunity to meet staff members and ask questions about Serotek products and services, Mike Calvo and Joe Steinkamp will be on hand at the A T Guys booth A1 at the NFB convention. You can catch Mike and Joe on July 5 between 10 AM and 12 PM, or on July 6 from 12 PM to 1:45 PM. While you're there, don't forget to ask The A T Guys about tactile screen protectors for your iPhone, the iBill Bank Note Identifier and the affordable, customized bar code scanner which recognizes millions of items and can even interface with the popular Directions For Me web site.
When you're done in the exhibit hall, you won't want to miss the NFB in computer Science meeting from 12:30 PM to 5 PM in Wekiwa 6, Level 2. Mike Calvo and Joe Steinkamp will present "A View from The cloud: Tales of a Multiplatform world" beginning at 3:20 PM. You might also be the lucky winner of a prize package donated to the group by Serotek, which includes a copy of the System Access Mobile screen reader and three months of access to the Remote Incident Manager allowing blind IT professionals and trainers to remotely access an end user's computer. If you're attending the ACB convention, you'll also have a shot at this package as you check out the fantastic program organized by the Blind Information Technology Specialists (BITS) group. You won't want to miss Michael Lauf as he presents "accessible Cloud Computing for Consumers and IT Professionals", beginning at 2:45 PM on July 11 in So Pac E.
Are you a blind student? Both the NFB and ACB conventions have student organizations which are well worth investigating. At NFB, check out the National Association of Blind Students and at ACB, check out the National Alliance of Blind Students. Both these organizations have received a prize package from Serotek which includes a copy of the System Access Mobile screen reader and a copy of DocuScan Plus, Serotek's cloud solution for converting printed materials to text on both Windows and Mac. If you're a senior, this year's conventions have something special for you as well. At the NFB, you can get involved in the NFB Seniors Division, and at ACB, you can get involved with the Alliance on Aging and Vision Loss. In both these groups, you'll have a chance to win a prize package from Serotek including The System Access Mobile screen reader, a year of access to the SAMNet online community, and a copy of the Neospeech VoiceText speech engine.
Convention coverage will be presented by Serotalk from both the show floors, and you can always hear the latest by visiting www.serotalk.com or better yet, use the iBlink Radio app on your Android or iOS device.
When it comes to convention coverage, we don't just want to hear our own voices. We want to hear yours, too. Whether you're at NFB, ACB or Sight Village, we want to hear your reports on what's hot, what's not, and what's just plain interesting. You can send your written or prerecorded submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't have any fancy recording equipment? Do you wish you could just leave an on-location message for us right from your phone? You can! Check the iBlink Radio app for your Android or iOS device for details.
Whether you're taking part this year from your home or from the show floor, we wish you a safe and fun convention experience.
The Serotek Team
While this is a personal post and I don’t make it a habit to get on my personal soapbox on this blog, I think that the issues covered in the email are relevant to Serotek’s mission of providing and advocating for
Below is a letter submitted to the IPad Today show on the Twit Netcast Network. It frustrates me that even so called “geeks” don’t understand how important accessibility is in both software and on the web. What do you think of this letter? Please post your comments so perhaps someone will read them and really know that accessibility isn’t just a law but that it really does allow us as a market to enjoy the same level of access to products and services that our sighted peers enjoy and take for granted.
Program 51 Advocates for Universal Design … for Once
Hello Leo and Sarah,
I’ve been a long-time listener of The Twit Network and iPad today, and have
always been impressed with the insightful commentary you both consistently
provide on the show. I was very excited to hear your thoughts on HTML 5 on the
show which aired on June 23. As the CEO of an assistive technology company providing accessible cloud
services to the blind, I’m a staunch advocate of HTML 5. It allows for
consistent cross-platform design, and has the added benefit of being far more
accessible than other design technologies such as Flash.
I was all set to hear a well-thought-out
and candid discussion of the benefits of HTML 5, so imagine my shock and
surprise when you began discussing the iPad experience for the new Harry
Potter site. You first
lamented the fact that the site displayed on the iPad was a text-only site, which lacked all the appealing features
of the main site. Then, Sarah took things one step further and asked the
developers to: "consider the community with good vision for once!"
Sarah, have you ever been prevented from
conducting legitimate business because of an inability to use a particular
site? Have you ever had to contact a site designer to explain that you wanted
to purchase a business’s products and services but were prevented from doing so
because of a flaw in web design? Have you ever overheard a friend or family
member discussing a particular site, only to realize you couldn’t enjoy that
site yourself, again, because of a flaw in web design? This is the struggle
that the blind community faces on a daily basis. When your entire audience of
web developers, business professionals, and blind and sighted consumers hear
you minimize this struggle with a few snide and ill-considered words, it is
incredibly damaging. With this single statement, you’ve implied that
accessibility may be a headache which some designers have to address, but only
when it doesn’t detract from the experience of the mainstream audience or in
your words "those of us with good vision." What you fail to
understand is that the members of an audience who need accessibility don’t
actually want separate but equal. We want the same bells and whistles that
everyone else enjoys. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciate the consideration when a
site designer at least acknowledges the need for accessibility by providing a
text-only site. With that said, my primary goal is to educate developers that
accessibility doesn’t have to be an afterthought, and can be incorporated quite
easily without adversely impacting anyone else. In fact, when a developer
chooses to use something like HTML 5 over something like Flash, everyone
benefits, including the sighted iPad users like yourself who want a more
As well-respected tech enthusiasts,
imagine how much you could do to further the education on web accessibility
just by including information like this when you discuss platforms like HTML 5.
Conversely, consider just how damaging it can be when you make statements which
encourage actions which further your own interests while minimizing those of
another population. Would you rather advocate for the continuation of a
separate but equal philosophy, or would you rather advocate for universal design,
Mike Calvo CEO
Ph: (612) 246-4818
Fax (612) 643-3483
United Kingdom +44 2080-990685
1128 Harmon Place
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Tech Chat 103 covered outdoor activities including boating and fishing with Lawrence Euttenier with
plus biking, hiking and camping with Nolan Derelek with
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 25th 2011
The popular iBlink Radio application from
has just gone multiplatform! The world's first application for the visually impaired for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad is now available on the Android Market. Version 1.0 has some features not found on the Apple iOS version that take advantage of the hardware keyboards found on many Google Android handsets.
iBlink Radio offers radio stations, podcasts and reading services of special interest to blind and visually impaired persons; as well as their friends, family, caregivers and those wanting to know what life is like without eyesight. The original release of iBlink Radio has been downloaded thousands of times and it has even been featured on the front page of the iTunes Store.
All stations under Community Radio are owned and/or operated by persons with limited or no eye sight. Genres include oldies, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, alternative, classic Rock, Old Time Radio and more. This is a small sampling of SAMNet, Serotek’s award-winning online community dedicated to promoting the digital lifestyle to its low-vision and blind subscribers.
Reading services provide narration of newspapers, magazines, periodicals and other print publications including: USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and hundreds more.
Podcasts are produced by blind and partially sighted individuals, and cover topics including: broadcasting, computers, radio, technology, Independent Living, Travel, and much more.
“iBlink radio is the premiere application for showcasing content produced by today’s Blind community. At Serotek, we believe that Android has many exciting things in store for us all. It was only logical that we would bring iBlink Radio to one of the fastest growing platforms for handsets and tablets.” said CEO Mike Calvo.
Menu button navigation, Press the Menu Button to shift your focus to the list of items and back to the player. You can use your Directional Pad, or other controls, to move between the Play/Pause and Stop buttons. You can also place your focus into the seek bar for fast forwarding or rewinding of files like Podcasts.
Notification bar support: Simply open the Notification Bar and select the media being played by iBlink radio for easy access to the player when multitasking on your device.
White on black font scheme: For those who are glare sensitive, the default color scheme for common Android menus have been incorporated into this version of iBlink Radio. The benefit of this choice is that this will let some Low vision users see the display better in various lighting conditions.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
It's Cinco de Mayo, and our CEO just dashed out the door, frantically mumbling something about margaritas. The Serotek team got together and decided that if the CEO was celebrating, we should all follow his lead. To that end, we've decided to reset all trials of DocuScan Plus, giving you 7 extra days to play. If you have ever had a trial of DocuScan Plus, you'll be able to log in with your account credentials and try out the program again. And if you haven’t tried DocuScan Plus, then now is the perfect time to start with a 7 day free trial of the cross platform phenomenon. That’s right! Windows or Mac, it is time to have a blast with DocuScan Plus. Just don’t tell the boss our little secret, okay?
If you have other Serotek software installed, just choose DocuScan Plus from the System Access menu to get started. If you still have the app on your Mac, launch it and your trial will begin again. If you're using DocuScan Plus as a standalone product on Windows,
just log in with your account credentials at www.docuscanplus.com
If you've never had a DocuScan Plus trial before, you can
If you're on the Mac, don't forget to [grab the app from the
Mac App Store.
The Serotek Team
Monday, May 2, 2011
Looking for a fast and portable image capture solution for use with DocuScan Plus? Serotek now offers the HoverCam T5V document camera for $499. This light and portable document camera is the perfect accessory for scanning printed materials at home or on the go. Weighing just 1.8 pounds and measuring 4.5 inches by 12 inches, this 5-megapixel camera with built-in bright LED lights is the ideal solution for those needing a portable, accurate, and extremely fast scanning device. The camera works on Windows and Mac computers without the need to install additional drivers. Simply plug the camera in to an available USB slot, and you're ready to begin using the device with DocuScan Plus. The camera comes with a slip-resistant mat with tactile markings, ensuring you have the most stable surface for your camera and optimal placement for your printed materials. If you’d like to learn more about the document camera, you may read the help documentation.
If you don’t yet own DocuScan Plus, usable on both Mac and Windows platforms, visit
for more information.
When you’re ready to purchase, simply visit the “my account” section from your Serotek software by pressing modifier+f, followed by the letter A. From here, choose “purchase more products and services”, and choose the HoverCam T5V accessory. You may also call us at (612) 246-4818 and a member of our sales team will be happy to assist you.
The Serotek Team
Friday, April 29, 2011
Minneapolis, Minn, April 29, 2011
Words without boundaries, Serotek’s DocuScan Plus OCR Goes Multi-Platform With Support For The Mac
the leading provider of accessible, multi-platform cloud-based solutions, is proud to announce the availability of DocuScan Plus for the Apple
DocuScan Plus, released for the
platform in November 2010, allows individuals with a computer and attached imaging device to scan and convert printed materials in to text, and to store these documents in the cloud for easy retrieval on either Operating System from anywhere. The newly released Mac application contains the same compelling features as found in its wildly successful Windows counterpart, including easy conversion to daisy, Braille and MP3 formats, sending to
password protection options, and saving to a local computer in large print or Rich Text Format. DocuScan Plus represents the first fully accessible cloud-based OCR solution to be available in the Mac app store.
“When we designed DocuScan Plus for Windows with cloud-based features, bringing it to the Mac was the next logical step,” said Mike Calvo, CEO. “People don’t use just one computer, or even one operating system anymore, and they need to access their information regardless of which platform they’re using at any given time.” “Apple has a host of accessibility features already built in to the operating system,” continued Calvo. “Because of this, we were able to make an application that is universally compelling in its own right, regardless of whether you’re print-disabled, and its accessible right out of the box to a very wide audience.”
DocuScan Plus is designed with an easy and intuitive interface, and works seamlessly with Apple’s Voiceover screen reader and Zoom magnifier. The application can be used in conjunction with the wide variety of Braille displays which are supported with Voiceover. The $299 price for this service provides users the ability to utilize DocuScan Plus on both the Windows and Mac platforms without paying a premium. This unique approach continues Serotek’s philosophy of offering accessibility anywhere at an affordable price, which is unparalleled in the Assistive Technology Industry.
The app is now [available through the Mac App Store,
and you can learn more about the revolutionary DocuScan Plus by visiting
Serotek Corporation is a leading technology company that develops software and manufactures accessibility solutions under the System Access brand. Committed to the mission of providing accessibility anywhere, Serotek began with the launch of the first online community specifically designed to meet the needs of people with visual impairment. Since then, Serotek has introduced several powerful, affordable solutions that require minimal training and investment. For more information, visit www.serotek.com
Friday, April 15, 2011
For Immediate Release
612.246.4818, ext. 104
Serotek Presents at International Association of Audio Information Services Conference
Minneapolis, Minn April 15, 2011
the leading provider of Internet and digital information accessibility software, will be presenting at the
held May 12 - 14 at the Sheraton ST Louis City Center Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. The
is a volunteer-driven organization whose aim is to turn text in to speech for those who have difficulty accessing the printed word. Serotek provides easy access to content produced by IAAIS members through its
SAMNet subscription service,
as well as through a free application for iOS devices entitled
iBlink radio is the first blindness-specific app for iOS devices, and it provides access to a wide variety of content by and for the blind community.
Michael Lauf, Serotek’s content director, and the host of weekly podcasts
will be presenting at the conference on several topics. These include using iBlink Radio to reach existing and new listeners, saving money by negating the need to purchase radios, using the internet and social networking to expand coverage areas, making quality readings available so patrons can listen at times convenient for them, recruiting volunteer readers, increasing funding through donations, and real time engagement of audiences by taking questions during live and pre-recorded events.
“I’m honored to have been invited to present at this year’s event”, said Lauf. For Serotek and IAAIS, the mission is very much the same. We both understand the importance of having access to a wide variety of information, and we both provide that in a way which is comfortable for everyone to access.”
In addition to participating in this year’s conference, Serotek has offered its weekly podcasts for syndication by IAAIS members. The podcast, which provides access to the latest mainstream and assistive technology news, has already been chosen for syndication by
Houston Taping for the Blind,
and is expected to be syndicated by other Radio Reading Services in the near future. “Syndication is a very exciting step for us”, said Joe Steinkamp, producer of the podcast. “With
we wanted to educate people about technology, and demonstrate that it’s not just for geeks. There’s a lot of technology out there that would truly make people’s lives easier if they knew about it, and could make decisions about what works best for them. Now that the podcast is in syndication, we can reach a much wider audience who may not have been able to access this type of information any other way.” With the podcast in syndication, Serotek and IAIIS can partner to identify informational needs among the audiences of specific IAIIS members, and create content beneficial to those groups.
For more information about Serotek Corporation, visit
For more information about The International Association of Audio Information Services, visit
Serotek Corporation is a leading technology company that develops software and manufactures accessibility solutions under the System Access brand. Committed to the mission of providing accessibility anywhere, Serotek began with the launch of the first online community specifically designed to meet the needs of people with visual impairment. Since then, Serotek has introduced several powerful, affordable solutions that require minimal training and investment. For more information, visit
Friday, April 1, 2011
April 1st 2011
Serotek, the leading provider of Internet and digital information accessibility software and services, today announced its entrance in to the notetaker market with a product simply named the GTO. The GTO, originally code-named Project Doorstop, aims to resurrect previously existing technology for a second chance at life.
“So many people believe that innovation is about doing something that’s never been done before,”, said Hugh Morris, product manager for the GTO. One thing that hasn’t been done nearly enough is to take seemingly obsolete technology and combine it in new, and perhaps ludicrous ways.” That’s exactly what we’ve done with the GTO. Morris went on to say that though the cost of manufacturing the GTO is extremely low because no one else in the market has use for its parts, consumers will not benefit from this cost reduction. “We’ve spent 3 weeks in hard-core development and testing with this product. We tested it until we got tired of doing so. All that hard work costs the company money, and we’re going to pass that cost along to the consumer tenfold. We’re going to make consumers pay … and pay … and pay!” Mr. Morris then begin cackling maniacally and was unavailable for further comment.
We spoke with Rusty Mettles, lead developer for GTO, to learn more on how the product came about. “I had this closet full of stuff,”, said Mettles. “My mom was going to make me throw it out, and it was in that moment of desperation that I came up with the idea of the GTO. I love the sound of a 14.4KBPS modem connecting, and I didn’t want others to miss out on that beautiful sound. I remember composing research papers using WordPerfect 5.1, and I don’t understand why technology like this has fallen by the wayside. The GTO was my chance to bring it back.”
The GTO already works with several formats familiar to seasoned tech enthusiasts, and boasts specs on par with many previously released devices.
The GTO runs on RISC processors gathered from gently used Game Boy units. This will allow you to play many legacy games that may or may not be accessible.
The unit supports several external storage formats including but not limited to: 3.5 and 5 ¼ inch Floppy drives, bubble memory and tape backup. The unit's internal memory is a roomy 640K, which ought to be enough for anybody. The US Robotics 14.4KBPS modem works on any existing phone line and will connect to any dial up service using the included ProComm Plus software. Telix software is available for an additional fee. Serotek continues to applaud Apple's accessibility efforts, so the Echo 2 synthesizer was the logical choice for text-to-speech on the GTO. Everything about this unit is built to offer consumer choice, so the unit will support 6 popular versions of DOS. We know many out there are tired of having to deal with messy graphics. This way we ensure that almost everything is text-based.
Input on the unit is accomplished through Morse code. Blind ham radio enthusiasts will be ecstatic about this innovation, and those who don't know Morse code should have learned it long since, and will no longer have an excuse to put off acquiring this skill.
The included car battery accessory with alligator clips allows for 20 hours of battery life.
The unit has been tested rigorously by 6 Chimpanzee-Bonobo hybrids, who received bananas and peaches in payment for their hard work. During the testing process, it was discovered that a banana-resistant surface was necessary to maintain the integrity of the unit. This is a feature not present in any other product on the market.
Though the chimps were excellent test subjects, the only intelligible quotes they provided for the press release were: "Peach good. Banana good good." For a more in-depth testimonial, we approached a human user, Ms. Anne Thrope for her thoughts on the GTO. “I despise people”, mumbled Thrope. With this technology, I can legitimately bow out of communicating with people in an effective and timely manner. It’s tremendously liberating!”
The unit is priced at a reasonable $4011, and comes with 2-hour tech support, from 11 AM to 1 PM Eastern Standard Time. We approached Izzy Smart, lead technical support
representative, for his comments on the GTO. "So basically, if they call us and tell us something's wrong, all's we gotta do is tell them to buy another one,", said Smart. "I learned how to do that pretty quick. It was like a couple of weeks, and I totally had it down, ok? And then, like, if they ask us how to do something on the thing, we're supposed to just hang up. I told my boss, I was like, man that's mean! He goes, no way, see, this way we're teaching people to learn to think for themselves. I was like, oh, right on, man! I can dig that!"
We are also proud to announce our newest addition to the Serotek stable today in support of the GTO. The SAMBBS, or System Access mobile Bulletin Board System, will let you connect with your friends and family from just about anywhere you can connect with a land line. Here are just a couple of the revolutionary things you can do on the SAMBBS.
Create documents using WordStar.
Read documentation through Borland, to relearn all that you have forgotten.
Play music files, painstakingly composed using QBasic.
Just dial in, log on and by tomorrow you will be reading email and browsing through files. Downloading files, however, is not supported at this time. This capability is slated for a future release in 2015.
To get a sneak preview of the SAMBBS, use your Telnet client of choice to connect to bbs.samobile.net
Our marketing consultants told us we should at least pretend to care about your input. With that in mind, if you can think of features we should have included in the GTO but didn't, please comment here or call the Serotalk blab line at (866) 997-2522 and we'll give your ideas the attention they deserve.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
All persons interested in the future of Serotek, as well as the blindness and low vision community, are cordially invited to join Serotek for a town hall meeting, to be held Wednesday March 30 at 9:00 P.M. Eastern, 6:00 P.M. Pacific, in the TownHall Voice chat room.
Serotek's CEO Mike Calvo will discuss future goals and objectives for both Serotek corporation, as well as some very important issues that should be of concern to blind and low vision persons.
Because of the large number of attendees, we will not take live questions. However, persons are invited to
We look forward to sharing some interesting objectives for Serotek, as well as outlining some exciting projects to greatly enhance the quality of life for blind and low vision persons.
The Serotek Team
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
HoverCam Teams with DocuScan Plus at CES
Alliance Brings Together Pocket-Sized Document Camera
and World’s First Cloud-Based Scanning Technology
SAN DIEGO, Calif – January 3, 2011 –
Pathway Innovations and Technologies, Inc.
, the designer and manufacturer of HoverCam office cameras, and
, the leading provider of accessible multi-platform and cloud-based mobile technology
solutions, announce their alliance for CES 2011. Together the organizations deliver
mainstream convenience plus assistive technology industry accessibility to mobile
The HoverCam Mini™ and Neo™ office cameras and DocuScan Plus™, the world’s first
cloud-based scanning solution, will be demonstrated together at the 2011 International
Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 6 – 9.
Unlike conventional scanners, the portable Neo and pocket-sized HoverCam Mini scan
documents in one second or less. Users need only plug it into any computer’s USB
software offers high-quality optical character recognition to convert the printed
page to text. This self-voicing application requires no special drivers and can read
printed pages as well as many types of PDF files, including those containing text
or those containing only images. The entire camera and software package is affordably
priced below $800 USD.
“In today’s mobile business environment, users demand immediacy, portability and
global accessibility,” said Ji Shen, Chairman and CEO, Pathway Innovations and Technology,
Inc., “By teaming with Serotek’s DocuScan Plus technology, the HoverCam can deliver
“While DocuScan Plus was originally designed for the reading impaired, such as those
who are blind, have low vision or are dyslexic, it also has mass appeal,” said Serotek
CEO, Mike Calvo, “The size and simplicity of the HoverCam Mini broadens the mobility
as well as the reach and appeal of this total scanning solution.”
Both products will be demonstrated at booth number 35955 on the second floor of the
south hall at CES 2011. For additional information, contact Pathway Innovations and
Technology, Inc. at 858-812-6358, visit
, contact Serotek Corporation at (612) 246-4818 or visit
Pathway Innovations and Technologies, Inc.
Based in San Diego, California, Pathway Innovations and Technology is the designer
and manufacturer of HoverCam document cameras. Used in schools, hospitals and other
businesses, HoverCam cameras are designed for document scanning, video recording,
student assessment and the visually impaired. For more information, visit
Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Serotek Corporation develops software and manufactures
accessible, multi-platform and cloud-based mobile technology solutions. Committed
to the mission of providing accessibility anywhere, Serotek designs its solutions
to meet the needs of people who are blind or have low vision, with minimal training
and investment. For more information, visit