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Thursday, November 16, 2006

New Telephony Product; Public Apology

Recently, I received an e-mail From a Blind Confidential reader promoting a new information over the telephone service for people with vision impairment. I found the letter she sent interesting enough to check out the website for the product. The product, If By Phone provides a whole lot of features at very reasonable prices.

If By Phone offers everything from voice-based e-mail and blogging to a news reading service. The price is all seem to range from about seven dollars to around $13 for user features and about $30 for advertisers and such.

If By Phone provides a panoply of features and can be used from any phone. I don't know how it's news reading service compares to that provided by NFB for free but providing Internet, e-mail, blogging and even games like Texas Hold 'Em seems pretty cool for a low cost telephony solution. I haven't had the opportunity to try this service yet but I hope to in the coming few weeks.

I do, however, have a bone to pick with the If By Phone website. If tested for accessibility, it would not pass. It Uses Flash which contains buttons that JAWS reads as 1, 2, etc. I strongly urge the If By Phone people To Remove Flash from their website as no matter what the Macromedia people say, Flash accessibility, excepting some really interesting content produced by WGBH, never provides better than mediocre accessibility and, most often, accessibility of Flash content is poor.

So, if you're interested in voice-based telephony solutions, I recommend you check out If By Phone and send me any comments you have about it. As the voice telephony technologies fall outside my area of expertise, I don't really know much about them and would appreciate Blind Confidential readers sending me information about your experience with this one and any others that are out there.

Afterward

Some current employees of Freedom Scientific have alerted me to the fact that a number of them find the Gonz Blinko stories that satirize the fictional company Freeman Scientology pretty offensive. Gonz always intended to entertain, amuse and provide a thought provoking, hallucinatory romp through an alternative universe that crossed the literary styles of the great Hunter S. Thompson with some of William Gibson's dark future where corporations replace governments, have their own paramilitaries and use force to solve business and personnel disputes.

I apologize to those who found these stories offensive. Neither Gonz nor I wanted to demean the hard work done by the very real people at Freedom Scientific or Human where for that matter. I still have a lot of friends at Freedom Scientific and hope I didn't do anything to insult or discourage them with the satirical fiction.

Gonz will, in the future, continue to satirize the assistive technology industry but will try to do so in a manner using less specific similarities to real-world entities and people.

-- End

3 Comments:

Anonymous Will Pearson said...

Funny you should mention Freeman Scientology. Yesterday I sat in a departmental research seminar on quantifying correctness. For those unfamiliar with computer programming correctness refers to whether the program does what it is meant to. With all the bugs that Freeman Scientology's software has their name did come to mind during the seminar. I was going to contact Gonz to see if he could write an article about correctness and bring it to the attention of people from Freeman Scientology such as Gore Glendon and Stephen Joseph.

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude.. you have nothing to apologize for.. The best comedy of all has always been based on raw, uncensored pokes at everything.. if "Freeman Scientology" (hehehe) or any other company can not take a joke, then they are missing the point.. No company, big or small can dominate or block what anyone wants to expess comdedy or not.. people need to lighten up. carry on, carry on..

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Will Pearson said...

Another Freedom Scientology thought... I wonder if the folks at Freeman Scientology realise that they are in the terminal phase of their existance? This isn't soley a problem for Freeman Scientology but one facing the whole blink AT industry. Computers are moving away from the desktop and into mobile devices and ubiquitous computing. These fields generally require different methods of conveying information to users as the hands and eyes that are typically used to communicate with a computer are usually tasked with other activities. Therefore, non-visual communication is set to explode in the future, indeed, people are talking about speech being the next big thing in user interfaces.

So, there seems not to be much of a future for Freeman Scientology and it's competitors given that computing will increasingly become non-visual in the future. No doubt the AT industry will try to save itself by saying that blinks need specially designed UI but the truth is that this is nothing but bull dung, the critical factor in UI design is the I/O modalities and not whether someone is a blink or not. So, if I were a VC who had invested money in Freeman Scientology I'd think about cashing up sooner rather than later.

3:49 AM  

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