I just read the article Freedom Scientific says no to access for deaf people on the Access Ability blog, and I must say I am rather dismayed. The issue at hand is the current lack of accessibility of the company’s FSCast to the deaf-blind segment of the blind community.

While Freedom Scientific manufactures products to meet the needs of an underserved, minority population, it also seems to be failing to accomodate a segment of that very community. How can we ask the mainstream technology industry to reasonably accomodate us, when we allow companies in our own blind community to pass on providing accessibility by claiming a lack of resources?

We at Blind Access Journal ask Freedom Scientific to reasonably accomodate its deaf-blind customers by following these steps to incrementally increase the accessibility of their podcast audio content:

  1. Provide a link to an alternative document that delivers similar information. In the case of the most recent podcast episode 10, for instance, posting the JAWS 9.0 release notes at the same time as the audio would have represented a positive step forward.
  2. Provide detailed show notes that cover all the same important information delivered in the audio presentation. This can be a summary, at least in the beginning, so long as the same important information is delivered.
  3. Finally, the ultimate goal should be to supply full text transcripts of each FSCast episode.

We ask Freedom Scientific to do the right thing by moving toward full accomodation of its deaf-blind customers in a way that is inexpensive while ensuring their full inclusion in everything the company has to offer. We believe the largest player in the blindness assistive technology industry ought to be able to show positive movement in this area by the time episode 11 of the FSCast is released. Come on, Freedom Scientific, please step up to the plate, do the right thing and make sure all your blind customers, including those whom also happen to be deaf, are afforded a full and equal opportunity to participate.