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Destinator and StreetTalk GPS Live Installation Tutorial

July 24, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Learn exactly how to completely install the Destinator and StreetTalk combination on your Freedom Scientific PAC Mate BX or QX accessible PDA. In this live audio tutorial, I follow Freedom Scientific’s instructions, improvising as needed along the way. You’ll hear the installation process as it happened. Please feel free to provide feedback on this tutorial. I hope it helps someone successfully complete this relatively complex installation process.

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Letter of Apology and Clarification to Adam Curry: Insistant Accessibility Advocacy is not Impolite

July 23, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

On episode 212 of the Daily Source Code for Friday, July 22, Adam Curry indirectly made reference to my note of disappointment at the choice to implement inaccessible visual verification for the Podsafe Music Network. He inaccurately characterized the note as being “impolite”. Others seemed to agree with his stance. While I do admit there is a slight problem with my initial note to Adam, it is not one of politeness. I should have started the note on a more positive footing and included information on exactly how to provide accessibility to visual verification tests. Please feel free to review a copy of a letter of apology and clarification I have just sent to Adam. Your constructive feedback is always welcome.

Hi Adam,

Though I feel your characterization of my note of disappointment concerning the inaccessible visual verification on the Podsafe Music Network as being “impolite”, is inaccurate, I do apologize nonetheless for the way it may have come across to you. It would have been far better had I started the note on a positive footing and included more details on exactly how visual verification can be made accessible.

In my accessibility advocacy efforts, I have recently given special focus to inaccessible visual verification tests. The purpose of these tests is to prevent the use of automated computer programs for sending spam and otherwise abusing limited Internet resources. The tests verify that a real live human being, rather than a computer, is requesting access to a protected resource. When the implementation of these tests is done without regard to the need for nonvisual access, they represent an immediate and obvious barrier locking the blind out of participation. Since we are, in fact, fully living and breathing human beings and first class citizens possessing the same rights and responsibilities as those whom happen to enjoy the benefit of eye sight, many of us feel insulted when we come across such complete, insurmountable demands that we must do something that is physically impossible for us, see, in order to be granted acceptance. People such as myself and some others in the blind community are not passive. We just can not stand by and accept the obvious harm done to us when we are not, for any reason, granted equal access to the same resources enjoyed by everyone else.

There have been a number of approaches taken toward the blind with respect to the accessibility of visual verification. First, companies like Google have thus far chosen to provide absolutely no accessible alternative to their visual verification tests. Second, companies like America Online, Yahoo and even Podcast Alley have chosen to provide an option to get in contact with a live human being who may, eventually, get around to assisting the blind user with the registration process. Unfortunately, these alternatives do not tend to work, forcing the blind person to wait days or even weeks to complete a task a sighted person is allowed to accomplish instantaneously. Of course, that assumes the e-mails or telephone calls are ever returned, which is certainly not always the case. In essence, this approach is often really no better than simply providing no accessibility option at all. In my experience, GoDaddy is the only company that has implemented a “customer service” option to visual verification accessibility that actually works. The phone is always answered at GoDaddy. The calls are taken by the company’s 24×7 technical support call center. Third, some companies, such as Microsoft, PayPal and SpamArrest, really do their best to provide truely independent, instantaneously accessible verification tests that play the characters to be entered as an audio file rather than only displaying the information as a picture. Of course, a multiple choice is usually best: provide the visual verification test that meets the needs of most users, allow the blind to listen to an audio version and provide a way for those unable to do either to contact a live human being to receive prompt service.

You have already done quite a great deal for the blind in the podcasting arena by mentioning us on your Daily Source Code and putting us in touch with the iPod Lemon project, which has resulted in a wonderfully accessible podcatching client. Despite the perception of my previous note of disappointment, I am very appreciative for all you have done and, hopefully, all that you will continue to do to assure that we are able to participate equally in a technology field (digital audio production, podcasting and podcast listening) that should be especially well suited for the blind. I have been registered as a producer on the Podsafe Music Network approximately three and a half days after my completion of the online sign up process. The assistance is appreciated. I understand that improvements to the accessibility of the registration process are now underway. Thanks for helping to facilitate the accessibility of the Podsafe Music Network. I never miss an episode of your show. Keep up the excellent work; podcasting is great!

Best regards,


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Destinator and StreetTalk GPS Tips

July 22, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

After using the Destinator / StreetTalk system on my PAC Mate QX420 for less than a day, I make the following observations and provide the following tips to new users:

  • Follow all directions for installation and use as provided in the StreetTalk Owner’s Manual.
  • Close StreetTalk with control+q as soon as you are done using it. Leaving it active can cause erroneous results the next time you turn on your PAC Mate and switch to the program. Specifically, your GPS information will be outdated and Destinator will indicate that the GPS signal is too low. Closing and restarting StreetTalk corrected these issues.
  • Information such as the speed and direction of motion aren’t always accurate. While sitting still on a bench outside the office facing almost due North, I was told that I was facing Northwest, South and Southeast and moving at a speed of 0.3 miles per hour! Actual motion seemed to improve accuracy.
  • Functions such as the direction of motion data obtained by pressing alt+d and the “where am I” details provided by pressing alt+w seem to require three or four cycles in order to be considered accurate. This information is refreshed approximately every 10 seconds. Each time, it is reverbalized and shown on the Braille display. In other words, it seems to take 30 to 40 seconds for this information to become reasonably correct. Be careful.

The new Destinator + StreetTalk GPS solution is an extremely exciting and useful addition to the PAC Mate. It does not, under any circumstances, take the place of any currently taught and utilized orientation and mobility techniques. Use it wisely and enjoy the location information, routing and planning capabilities it can add to your travel life.

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Employee of the Month!

July 21, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

I earned an employee of the month award for June! My purpose for posting it is not to boast but to show how blind people can excel on the job given the right accessible tools. I received a nice plack which I will hang somewhere in the Accessibility Command Center. The text of the certificate is shown below. Some details have been removed to eliminate proprietary information.

Employee of the Month

The Certificate is presented to

Darrell Shandrow

Darrell’s participation helped out the SBG during the month of June. Darrell quickly changed his schedule to provide coverage while others accomplished training. He has been instrumental in managing a very complex email migration to include authoring procedural documentation of the migration. Darrell also owns and manages metrics reports for the SBG customers, as well as performing CSAT surveys for one of our clients.
Darrell has shown commitment and motivation worthy of recognizing.

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Adam, We Are Disappointed…

July 20, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

I wrote the following note to Adam Curry after discovering that registration for the new Podsafe Music Network is inaccessible to the blind due to the use of visual verification without a suitable nonvisual alternative. On several occasions during his Daily Source Code podcasts, Adam has indicated an interest in making sure that the blind are able to actively participate in podcasting. Inaccessible visual verification and a fairly inaccessible web site for the Podsafe Music Network certainly does not move us in this positive direction. We hope this oversight gets resolved in short order.

Hi Adam,

We in the blind community are disappointed and saddened at the choice to implement visual verification on the Podsafe Music Network without providing a properly accessible alternative. You already require e-mail address confirmation. Please consider doing the right thing by removing your inaccessible visual verification until an accessible alternative can be added. As it stands right now, we blind podcasters are being left out simply because we are unable to pass a visual verification test that provides no nonvisual alternative.



Adam responded as follows:


Your approach here isn’t very helpful. Instead of saying ‘you did it wrong’, perhaps you could explain in some relative detail how we can make it better.

I have just sent Adam a link to the W3C article entitled Inaccessibility of Visually-Oriented Anti-Robot Tests.

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Homeward Adventure – Part 1

July 19, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Check out my crazy adventure as I get myself back home from the office while sleep deprived after working an early 5:00 AM to 2:00 PM shift. I decided to transfer from Dial-A-Ride to the bus, took the wrong bus, ended up having to cross a busy street (thanks to the bus driver for helping me out of a potentially sticky situation) and, to top all that, ran into a telephone pole and dropped my cane and cell phone!

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