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Visual Verification: I Ask Todd Cochrane to Intercede with GoDaddy to Allow the Blind to Conduct Business

December 17, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Dear Todd,

Merry Christmas to you, your family and all Geek News Central Listeners from Darrell Shandrow of the Blind Access Journal blog and podcast. I just finished listening to your Dec. 13 episode of your podcast, where you mention your willingness to work with your sponsors, such as GoDaddy, to get critical issues resolved. I hope you can help myself and thousands of other blind customers and potential customers of GoDaddy.

As you and others have been advertising, GoDaddy offers an absolutely astounding web hosting deal that is especially suited to our bandwidth needs as podcasters. Unfortunately, at the end of the order I placed with GoDaddy, I was presented with a visual verification requirement without any alternative for blind customers. Upon placing a call to GoDaddy’s sales team, Chris promised a call back from a supervisor the following day to work on addressing the issue. This call back never came and I am continuing with my current web hosting provider at this time.

Please, please, please, close your eyes and imagine how you would feel if you were unnecessarily barred from doing business, then make use of your contacts at GoDaddy to start the process of getting this issue positively resolved. Visual verification tests (what Bob Parsons calls the human verifier) lock out the blind from participation and the ability to do business when no reasonable accessible alternatives are provided. An example of an accessible alternative
would be audio playback of the code to be entered in order to pass the test. Blind people are humans just like the sighted. It is thus absolutely critical that any “human verifier” be able to recognize all human beings, regardless of the presence or absence of eye sight.

We in the blind community are looking forward to great things with respect to your ability to work with your sponsor to get this critical matter resolved. Thanks as always for a great show. I am a loyal subscriber who listens to every episode.

All the best,

Darrell Shandrow

Categories: Uncategorized

The Difference Between Public and Private Communication

December 15, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker


Just a brief podcast discussing the importance of keeping in mind the differences between public and private communications as we conduct the online aspects of our lives. Recent indiscretion in this area may have the potential to harm working relationships necessary to improve the accessibility of vital podcast related products and services.

Download and Listen

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Karen’s Response to Podsafe for Peace Controversy

December 13, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

It appears that Karen’s excellent message below won’t see the light of day now, but I’m just glad the Podsafe for Peace topic has now been killed, hopefully once and for all, over on the blindcasting list. Thanks, Karen, for coming to my defense. Nobody is perfect. That certainly includes me. All the same, I also know what is right and will continue pressing forward.

To all Blindcast Members;

Most of you do not know who I am. I am Darrell Shandrow’s Fiancé & the silent partner on the blind Access journal. Occasionally, I can be heard on a
podcast. Some of you know who I am from other blind mailing lists or may have read articles I have posted on the blog.

Yet, the majority of you do not know me at all. This message is for all blindcasters and for anyone else sighted or not who reads this. WE all know,
even if people are not subscribed to a list, a podcast, there are times that messages & alike will eventually bee seen in one format or another by billions
of people around the world. Even if, a person may intend to send a private message to one individual or a few people & then, soon, discover, that his/her
message was posted elsewhere for all to see!

This was exactly the case with a message that Darrell had written Saturday night to Slah. He did not write to the blind casters list or anyone elseÂ’s
list or display it on his blog. He wrote a personal e-mail to Jerry himself.

Then, On Sunday, Jerry, decided to post DarrellÂ’s response to him on the blind cast list. So, there is nothing that will remain private if it is written
to a public mailing list. The only way it will remain private, if it is a dialogue between friends or between individuals whom respect & support another!

However, if anyone whom happens to disagree with you, not accept your beliefs, differences, whom does not understand anotherÂ’s experiences, attitudes or
support anotherÂ’s approach, style of discussing & approaching a subject, then, one can find his or her messages & name plastered allover the internet as
well as judging their character simply because he/she does not like someone or what they have read about a person or a subject. This is not right! Anything
that is discussed in private should remain private, unless the person has permission to post it publically.

WE need to respect each other & one anotherÂ’s ideas, opinions & method of approaching life
Furthermore, We are all human & noone, none of us is perfect. WE all have flaws, good & bad qualities. We all base our opinions & beliefs based on
our life experiences. None of us perceives the world in the same way. We need to understand anotherÂ’s perspective without immediately being critical
& patronizing another.

Moreover, I know, you are asking what does any of this have to do with anything or the PMN issues ? Everything! It does not matter what the issue is,
we all need to listen & try & understand a fellow member, anyone who we come in contact with .
Not only, have many of you judge Darrell for what he believes & some of the things he has said regarding the PMN issue, but, I am sure, many of
you will criticize me, for what I believe & just for the fact that I am associated with Darrell. I know this & am ready for all the critical & judgmental
comments you will send in my direction.

Yet, is this productive? What will we all gain from judging another, someone we really do not know? It is counterproductive to sit & judge another!
If we all utilized resources & we were united on many of these issues of accessibility * & other blindness issues* then, a great deal more would
be accomplished, much more would be achieved. I believe, we would have gain more access to print & other products that are still inaccessible to those
of us whom are blind.

In addition, the sighted public would also be more aware of the obstacles we face on a daily basis & what it truly is like to be blind. Too many
people are caught up in their own corner of the world, too concerned about themselves, their problems & do not give a second thought about those outside
their circle! We are all guilty of this, including myself!

We all need to LEAD, lead the way, to do what we can to improve the world around us. We all need to make some kind of difference & contribute to society.
We all need to LEAD! I am not just talking about leading, being a leader. This is an acronym that we use at my place of work, in the Hospitality
industry & can certainly be applied here!

LEAD;: Look, & Listen* E for
Evaluate explore options* A , ACT, Accommodate*Delight Deliver!
First, we all need to look, pay attention & observe our environment. We need to also listen, not just with our ears but with our hearts. If, we can
take the time to look & listen, to another, to find one positive trait or two about another person, then we will be much more likely to be supportive
of that person.

Next, we need to evaluate the situation. We also need to evaluate ourselves, are we doing our best, our we being true to ourselves, respectful
of others, doing anything & everything to make a difference? Our we doing all that we can to change, improve our world, not just for ourselves &
those close to us, but for all?

WE need to explore, take chances, take risks & do what is right. If you see that nothing is being done about an issue for example, then, speak out
do what you can to help!

Third, Act & accommodate. Take action, get involved , be proactive. We cannot do this alone, it takes each & everyone of us to truly “ change what it
means to be blind”
If you recognize there are things that are hindering us, limiting us & from participating equally to the sighted, donÂ’t sit back & turn a blind
eye! Do not assume that someone else will do the job, because, that person or group of individuals,, is waiting for you, others to take the responsibility
to make the changes. One needs to realize that, most people are followers & not a leader! Most conform!

The issues we have as blind people are not just lack of access to information but the inability to be involved, to participate on an equal level
with the sighted. The fact that we are blind should not affect our quality of life! This is a global issue & one needs to look at the world macroscopically.

Furthermore, issues such as PMN being inaccessible isnÂ’t just a technical & financial issue , but like everything, it is a social one.!
AS a minority most of these issues of access are also social problems!
Yes, they are Social problems! If, we do not have access to printed information & all products that are designed for the sighted , then, this
affects us, the blind, profoundly! We do not have access to print, we cannot intelligently make decisions & be aware of current Events. Also,
it effects our daily life if products are not user friendly for the blind & we have to “ depend” & “ wait for a sighted person” to get assistance”.
Why, should we accept this?
These, are just some of the issues that Darrell is concerned about.
Just because, something may not effect another directly, we as a blind community, still need to be concerned on how these issues effect us as
a whole.

I think, most of you do not understand Darrell & is concerns. Most of you donot agree with his approach. Even I , do not always agree with the
way in which he does things. However I fully support him & what he is attempting to achieve!
As they say, appearances can & are often deceiving.
Most of you do not even realize that Darrell was all excited about this project , all for it! He loved the song & couldnÂ’t wait to download it! He even
wanted to play it on his podcast.

So, if you are all upset because, you think Darrell is heartless & doesnÂ’t care about anyone else except himself, then, you are way off base.! He
truly cares about the blind & very passionate about making a significant difference in the blind community.
Yet, he cannot do this alone! He has spend countless ours outside of his work, doing anything &e everything he can to enable us the blind, to have
access to web sites, to improve the screen readers, to PMN & alike!
Never the less, many, in the blind community, have criticized his methods & efforts to make this world abettor place for us all.
So, instead of being critical of him or anyone else, stop, get your facts straight first!
Darrell was very supportive of this project, until Jerry asked Jeff bishop to remove the link on his web site that made it possible for us, as blind
people to also gain access to the song!
Jeff put a great deal of time & effort on his day off to make it possible for us all to have the access to this song. He made it possible for us to
be involved & to participate in the Podsafe for Peace project.
Then, when, we no longer had access & were left behind, locked out, then, Darrell was upset & had no interest in the project. He was also upset
at Jerry because he did not do what was needed to make sure that we had access, equal access to the music!

For those of you, who believe, that, the PMN issues are not significant nor that it is not “ your problem”? It is, anything that limits us,
that diminishes the quality of our lives, just because we are blind, because, we lack the ability to use our eyes, is something that we all need to
be involved in. It is all our problems, not just your neighbors!
So, instead of spending time assuming that someone does not care or has a bad attitude, or that someone else will take responsibility, think, act,
and be a LEADER!

Last, before you send another message or have another conversation with anyone, keep in mind, that someone may take it, post it somewhere for all
to hear. Someone, may twist your words, , be critical you & not know anything about you!
For those of you, who do not subscribe to DarrellÂ’s podcast or view his blog, yet, judge him, think twice! You may want to subscribe & look & listen!
Perhaps, then, you will understand, another fellow human being & their method of madness! Darrell is a LEADER & takes risks! He is doing what he
can & is making a difference in the community. Are you? LetÂ’s all LEAD the way, for if we do, we can truly make a difference. Someone said,
one must sit down to failure before one can dine on success” “ & “ if you say, you can’t , you won’t!
This is just food for thought as you all enjoy your Holiday.

Categories: Uncategorized

Podsafe for Peace Inaccessibility: The Controversy That Refuses to Go Away

December 13, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

I just posted the following note on the blindcasting mailing list, a discussion group for blind podcasters, in response to the ongoing Podsafe for Peace inaccessibility controversy.

Hi all,

I know Jeff asked for the end of this thread a couple of days ago, yet I just can’t allow the ongoing condemnations and misunderstandings of me and all I am trying to accomplish to go on and on unchallenged. Though I am sure most of you have decided you’re not interested, I am nevertheless going to lay out all the facts as I understand them, then explain the rationale behind my making such an issue of the accessibility problems surrounding Podsafe for Peace for what it is or is not worth to most of you whom seem to have already made up your minds.

Podsafe for Peace is a We Are the World type benefit by podcasters featuring a lot of Podsafe musicians getting together to sing and disseminate a song written and composed originally by Jerry Halatyn and another person. The project is endorsed by Adam Curry and Podshow. The song is available on the Podsafe Music Network (which remains inaccessible to the blind) as well as for PayPal purchase on a web site that does happen to be accessible. Blindcasters may send e-mail directly to Slau for a copy of the track to be played on their podcast. Proceeds from the purchase of this song are going to UNICEF, though this project is, in no way shape or form, officially endorsed by the charity.

On the morning of Sunday, December 4, Jeff Bishop created a fair way to make the Podsafe for Peace track directly and immediately available to blindcasters for download from his web site after providing their name and e-mail addresses for reporting purposes. A reasonable effort was made to insure the track could not be downloaded without completing the form, and language was clearly included concerning the need to report all podplay to The system was set up to work around the current inaccessibility of the Podsafe Music Network both for registration (due to inaccessible visual verification) and overall use as we are currently not able to add songs to our playlists once we do manage to get manually registered. More than 60 blind people downloaded the song from using this system. Some were podcasters, while others were not.

On Sunday night, Slau was featured on Marlaina’s show on ACB Radio. I called in to thank Jeff Bishop for his efforts to make this project equally accessible to the blind. I was under the mistaken impression that, despite the inaccessibility of PMN, the blind would, in fact, be permitted full and equal participation in this fun, benefitial project. Sadly, I was to learn in a hurry that my optimism would be quite short lived.

Only a few hours after implementation of this accessible work around, pressure was applied by Slau to require PMN registration despite its current inaccessibility. Even after that change was made, additional pressure was applied to make other changes, such as a request to add a prompt for the downloader’s podcast feed. Within only a couple of days, Jeff simply removed the accessibility to the track from his web site altogether. As is usually the case, the needs and wants of all others trumped our need for equal accessibility and full participation.

Slau is a blind musician who relies on assistive technology such as screen reading software in order to do his job and enjoy the technological part of his life. It is quite reasonable to expect that a blind brother would do everything possible to insure a project he leads is made accessible to the blind. Certainly, it is quite disappointing and unexpected for such a person to take steps to thwart a fairly implemented accessibility work around due to one or two potential concerns that did not even actually come to fruition!

On the Blind Access Journal blog and podcast, as well as the blindcasting mailing list, I called Slau out on the carpet for his errors with respect to failing to take care of the accessibility needs of his blind brothers and sisters. A few days of controversy persisted, largely confined to the blind community, before starting to die down.

On the evening of Saturday, December 10, while checking my e-mail after a great day visiting with the Bishop family, I read a private e-mail from Slau telling me how hurt and insulted he was that I displayed my disappointment in him. I sent him a private response. On Sunday morning, December 11, Slau inappropriately decided to make our private correspondence extremely public by sending it not only to the blindcasting list, but also directly to Adam Curry, C.C. Chapman, Marlaina and Jeff! This improper action added fuel to an otherwise dying fire and served to take the controversy far outside our blind community.

This is where we stand now. Podsafe for Peace is accessible to blindcasters either by way of an e-mail to Slau or by purchase from the web site. In all fairness to Slau, he is reasonably prompt in his response by blindcasters, providing a link to the song within approximately 90 minutes of my request. This remains far from the equal access Jeff provided, or which would be provided had only the developers of PMN appropriately considered the need for accessibility during the design and implementation of that service! A task a sighted person is able to accomplish within five minutes required more than 90 minutes for a blind person to be permitted the same result.

Most of the blind community is squarely opposed to me and all for which I stand. I am apparently “militant” and unwilling to work cooperatively with others to achieve accessibility. The blind community will prop up any blind person who accomplishes something, even if that person failed to appropriately consider the needs of his own blind brothers and sisters! The community will also quickly and easily slam anyone (over a single controversy) who is working very hard to look out for their accessibility needs without doing their research and having all their facts straight!

For the record, some may consider portions of my accessibility evangelism to be “militant”. I prefer to think of it as insistent. Of course, most of my work is actually quite conciliatory and diplomatic, working to raise awareness of assistive technology and accessibility, asking the mainstream technology industry to consider our needs for accessibility and rationally explaining the human rights aspect of insuring that the blind aren’t simply left out in the cold while technology advances without us, thus threatening to destroy our ability to learn, work and enjoy leisure activities. From this controversy, I have learned a couple of critical lessons. First, keep in mind that your private communications can be made public at any time and in the most inopportune manner possible. Second, the blind community is mostly made up of clueless, immature, selfish, sheltered, ungrateful people, living in their own little fantasy worlds, willing to attack, at a moment’s notice, anything they do not immediately understand!

Merry Christmas my blind brothers and sisters. Have a nice life in your shrinking, increasingly inaccessible world!

Categories: Uncategorized

Separate and Unequal – Part 2

December 12, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Slau responded in approximately 90 minutes with a copy of If Everyday Were Christmas. While this does not constitute real accessibility by any stretch of the imagination, it is not entirely unreasonable in all fairness. It seems that Slau will, indeed, keep his end of the bargain by providing this song to any blindcaster who makes a request directly by e-mail. Thanks, Slau! Let’s just do a better job with accessibility when it comes to any future projects with which you may be involved, OK?

Categories: Uncategorized

Separate and Unequal – Part 1

December 12, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

It is currently 6:45 on the morning of Monday, December 12. If you are blind, the only way to obtain a copy of the Podsafe for Peace track for play on your podcast is to write a direct e-mail to Slau asking for a copy of the song. If you are a sighted podcaster, you are allowed to add this track to your playlist and download it in well under five minutes. I wrote the below letter to Slau at 6:45. Let’s see how long it takes him to send me a copy…

Hi Jerry,

I am a blindcaster who is currently unable to use the Podsafe Music Network due to some serious accessibility issues. Please provide me with a copy of If Everyday Were Christmas so I may play it on the Blind Access Journal podcast.


Jeff Bishop provided a method of equal access to this track which he was ultimately pressured to remove in favor of this vastly inferior solution. Let’s see just how long it takes when we are, once again, forced to live outside the “normal” process!

Categories: Uncategorized


December 12, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

If our own blind brothers and sisters don’t insure our ability to access the results of all their accomplishments, then how on Earth can we expect the sighted to make anything accessible? The last couple of days have shown me once more that the vast majority of blind people simply are not switched on to the absolute importance of the need to insist on technology accessibility. We must ask first then insist if we must until the proper changes are made to allow our full participation. Sadly, from time to time, we must also call a blind brother or sister on the carpet when they do things without giving appropriate consideration for accessibility. Apparently, this basic, common sense stance is “militant”. We apparently must ask for accessibility, then just sit back if it doesn’t happen. It is apparently acceptable for our own people to take lead on projects and bring them to fruition without accomodating our own needs for equal access. No way, Jose! Militant or not, we must insist on the right thing at all times! The cold hard consequences of ignoring inaccessibility are just too numerous and terrible to mention at the present time. How can we switch the sighted on to the need for equal accessibility if most of our own people are totally clueless? How will we ever get mass accessibility by allowing others to pat us on the head and set us aside for bigger and better things? Though we happen to lack functioning eyes, we are people, too. It is high time we insist on our first class citizenship and our basic human rights when it comes to technology related products and services!

Categories: Uncategorized

Tucson Visit, Christmas, Podsafe for Peace Controversy Continued and Accessibility Evangelism Contest

December 11, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker


We are having a great time visiting with the Bishop family in Tucson this weekend!

Find Unique Gift Ideas and Creative Gifts –

Excellent, accessible site for Christmas shopping and other occasions.

Podsafe for Peace

Slau failed to fully consider accessibility needs during the creation and publication of this project. We call him on the carpet for his oversight and his feelings are hurt by my “militant” approach.

What have you done for the cause of accessibility this year?

There will be a prize for the best accessibility accomplishments made during 2005. Get to work and submit your testimonials by January 31, 2006!

Download and Listen

Categories: Uncategorized

Podsafe for Peace Inaccessibility, New Edirol R-1 and Upcoming Tucson Trip

December 8, 2005 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker


Wow! What a show! Check out the new Edirol R-1!

DSC #292

Check me out on the Daily Source Code as I ask Adam to keep the DSC audio tag at the beginning of the show.

Podsafe for Peace

We’re disappointed in Slau for his lack of consideration for our accessibility needs with respect to downloading the song, especially since he is blind!

Jeff Bishop

Sorry to hear you had to take down the accessible copy of If Everyday Were Christmas. I guess it really is true that no good deed goes unpunished. What a shame…

Blind Cool Tech

Check out Rob’s October 11 review of the Edirol R1, including a significant amount of incredibly useful tutorial material.

Jill Parr

Listen to a neat rock version of Do You Hear What I Hear at the end of the show.

Download and Listen

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