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Coming up on Main Menu for the week of March 19 – AT&T Wireless Accessibility

March 17, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker
Hello Everyone,
This week on a one hour Main Menu Live, we hear from Susan Mazrui with AT&T Wireless all about the company’s accessibility initiatives for delivering screen readers and smartphones into the hands of blind and visually impaired customers.
Here is how to participate in the show:
The number to call into the show is 866-400-5333.
You may email your questions to:
You may also interact with the show via MSN (Windows Live) Messenger. The
MSN Messenger ID to add is:
Would you like to interact with a group of Main Menu listeners about the
topics heard on Main Menu and Main Menu Live? You can do this by joining the
Main Menu Friends email list. The address to subscribe is:
Come join an already lively group of users.
Would you like to subscribe to podcast feeds for Main Menu and Main Menu
Live? The RSS feeds to add to your podcatching application are:
Main Menu can be heard on Tuesday evenings at 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific, and at 1 universal (GMT) on Wednesday mornings on the ACB Radio Main Stream channel.
Follow this link to listen to the show:
Jeff Bishop and Darrell Shandrow
The Main Menu Production Team
Categories: Uncategorized

Online with Caroline Interview

March 16, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker


I chat with Caroline Congdon about her brand new Online with Caroline podcast. Everyone is invited to subscribe to the feed using their favorite RSS reader, or visit her LiveJournal blog to manually download the newest episodes as they are released and enjoy other content not posted as part of the podcast. The first episode was released last night, delivering instructions on the addition of new search providers in Internet Explorer 7.0. This is definitely a show you will not want to miss.

Download and Listen

Categories: podcast

Dear Colleague Letter Extended, Calls Needed Monday to Help NLS Talking Book Program

March 16, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Fellow Federationists:

We are continuing to make a difference on Capitol Hill. Our "Dear
Colleague" letter to support the Talking Books program now has 68 members of
the U.S. House of Representatives signed on in support. Congressman Towns,
the sponsor of this letter, has now agreed to hold the letter open through
the close of business on next Monday, March 17.

I am asking you to make one phone call Monday morning to your member of the
House of Representatives, and urge him or her to sign on to Congressman
Towns' "Dear Colleague" letter to support the Talking Books program. I have
listed the members that have already signed this letter below. If your
member of Congress is on this list, I would like you to call them and thank
them for supporting the Talking Books program. You can be connected with
your member of Congress by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202)

I have included my contact information at the bottom of this message in case
you have any questions. Thank you all very much for your hard work on this
important project.

Members that have cosigned Dear Colleague Letter:

Congressman Towns, New York
Congressman Hinchey, New York
Congressman Nadler, New York
Congressman Bilirakis, Florida
Congressman Wexler, Florida
Congressman Ellison, Minnesota
Congressman Oberstar, Minnesota
Congressman Walz, Minnesota
Congressman Peterson, Minnesota
Congresswoman Davis, California
Congresswoman Woolsey, California
Congresswoman Capps, California
Congressman Filner, California
Congresswoman Sanchez, California
Congressman Berman, California
Congressman Moran, Virginia
Congressman Scott, Virginia
Congressman Whitman, Virginia
Congresswoman Schakowsky, Illinois
Congressman Gutierrez, Illinois
Congresswoman DeLauro, Connecticut
Congressman Larson, Connecticut
Congressman McDermott, Washington
Congressman Wu, Oregon
Congressman Blumenauer, Oregon
Congressman Markey, Massachusetts
Congressman Delahunt, Massachusetts
Congressman McGovern, Massachusetts
Congressman Lynch, Massachusetts
Congressman Tierney, Massachusetts
Congressman Capuano, Massachusetts
Congressman Gordon, Tennessee
Congressman Cohen, Tennessee
Congressman Allen, Maine
Congressman Michaud, Maine
Congressman Sarbanes, Maryland
Congressman Cummings, Maryland
Congressman Van Hollen, Maryland
Congressman Wynn, Maryland
Congressman Payne, New Jersey
Congressman Passcrell, New Jersey
Congresswoman Capito, West Virginia
Congressman Carney, Pennsylvania
Congressman English, Pennsylvania
Congressman Platts, Pennsylvania
Congresswoman Shea-Porter, New Hampshire
Congressman Hodes, New Hampshire
Congresswoman Johnson, Texas
Congresswoman Jackson-Lee, Texas
Congressman Ortiz, Texas
Congressman Kucinich, Ohio
Congresswoman Sutton, Ohio
Congressman Chabot, Ohio
Congresswoman Cubin, Wyoming
Congressman Fortuno, Puerto Rico
Congressman Skelton, Missouri
Congressman Jefferson, Louisiana
Congressman Moore, Kansas
Congressman Welch, Vermont
Congressman Abercrombie, Hawaii
Congresswoman Baldwin, Wisconsin
Congressman Langevin, Rhode Island
Congressman Kildee, Michigan
Congressman Butterfield, North Carolina
Congresswoman DeGette, Colorado
Congressman Loebsack, Iowa
Congressman Johnson, Georgia

Jesse Hartle
National Federation of the Blind
Government Programs Specialist
Phone: (410) 659-9314, ext. 2233

Categories: Uncategorized

Possible Trouble at Podshow, Or How a Company’s Reputation Might Relate to its Failure to Deliver on Public Promises

March 14, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

According to Rumormonger: PodShow said to lay off 20 out of 60-plus employees, it appears Podshow has suffered a significant setback, resulting in a reduction of almost a third of its total staff. Although I certainly empathize with those who lost their jobs today, I am also not very surprised. The disappointing way in which Adam Curry publicly pledge to make accessibility a part of the company’s core DNA, then utterly failed to deliver on that promise, is a bad sign of the character and ethics of the company’s leadership. I posted the following comment to the above cited article, which is awaiting approval:

Adam Curry did a great deal in 2005 to promote podcasting. I feel we should all appreciate him for his positive contributions. Nevertheless…

At the 2005 Portable Media Expo and Podcasting Conference, I had a conversation with Adam regarding the accessibility of the Podsafe Music Network and other Podshow products and services for the blind and visually impaired. At that time, he indicated that Podshow would make a serious effort toward positive change, make myself and others part of the development and testing processes, and generally work with the disability community to ensure full participation by everyone.

Adam further made this pledge a day later on his Daily Source Code, and in several podcasts in December 2005 into January 2006. The only single act that ever came from this pledge was a Skype conversation between Andrew Grumet, myself and a blind programmer friend of mine concerning ways in which the accessibility of Add to Playlist and other Podsafe Music Network features could be increased.

I feel Adam’s total lack of follow through and responses to my requests for ongoing communication have represented a sad state of affairs with respect to his character and, by extension, the company he leads. The issues with PMN continue to exist despite the fact it has been around for almost two years and most of the rest of Podshow contains serious accessibility barriers that inhibit full participation by people with disabilities. When the leadership of a company makes promises to an underserved population, those people believe him in good faith but the promises are never delivered, that should tell everyone a great deal about the character, ethics and lack of good corporate citizenship involved. It should also tell all of you about the quality of customer service and technical support you may not receive when doing business with Podshow.

Back in early 2005, I was introduced to the concept of podcasting by Adam Curry through his Daily Source Code. At the time, I thought it was an experimental, fun new way to deliver and present content directly to anyone with an Internet connection for listening anytime, anywhere. Adam said he was going to do business in a brand new way, far different from today’s conventional media companies. I didn’t really care about his previous MTV career; I was a fan since he seemed determined to turn the delivery of information on its head. In accordance with the things Adam said to me and a few others, I also thought he was sincere about making sure “new media” would be accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. I was very disappointed to learn, over time, that Adam Curry is really very conventional, representing the unfortunate rule rather than the exception. He hasn’t done a thing to communicate with the disability community or made any modifications to reasonably accomodate accessibility as promised all the way back in November of 2005. It has been my experience over the years that companies willing to accomodate the accessibility needs of people with disabilities also seem to be the same ones that provide solid value for money to all their customers. I wish Adam Curry and the Podshow crew would have stepped up to the plate as promised.

Categories: podcasting

Live Webcast and Archived Recording of CSUN Keynote by James Fruchterman

March 12, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

We thought you might wish to know about the following:

Who: Opening Remarks and Keynote Address by Jim Fruchterman, one of the
leading innovators in the field of assistive technology
When: Live webcast today – Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 7:30 am
Where to access the live stream: (copy and paste into your browser):


Where to access the archived recording later in the day:

The LetsGoExpo Team

Categories: Uncategorized

Stream News Wire – Software Version 1.2 Released

March 10, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

Dear Victor Reader Stream Customer:

HumanWare has released the latest Stream software version 1.2.18. This is a
free software upgrade that can be downloaded and installed on your Stream.
To download the software visit:

Select the link to download the new software version 1.2.18. On the same
page, you will also find a What's New document describing installation
procedures and listing all the features of the new version. Among the new
features you will find the following:

– Support of NIMAS text books in United States
– Support of System Access Mobile from Serotek Corporation (
– Go To Time feature for non-structured audio books and recorded audio notes
– Faster data transfer rate when the Stream is connected to the computer
with the USB cable
– Increased volume on the built-in speaker
– Bass and treble control for music
– Control over announcement of music folder and file names
– An optional built-in SD formatting utility should your SD card ever
require reformatting

Please refer to the What's New document on the Stream page for a complete
description of all new features and improvements. An updated FAQ document
(frequently asked questions) can also be found on the web page. It provides
answers to frequently asked questions about Audible, battery,,
CNIB, NLS, Recording, RFB&D, SD cards, and Serotek.

With this announcement, version 1.2 is available in English and Norwegian.
As other version 1.2 languages become available they will be posted on the
same download page. Currently, the previous version 1.1.15 software is
available in Dutch, German, French, and Swedish.

We are also working on a second English U.S. male voice (Tom) and a U.K.
male voice (Daniel). These will be posted as alternate version 1.2 software
downloads as soon as possible. We will announce their availability on this
News Wire.

The next Stream software release project will start soon and is intended to
provide support for WMA and BRF. We are also planning an update to the
Stream Companion software.

HumanWare values your continued support of the Victor Reader Stream. We
remain committed to existing and future customers to make the Stream the
most powerful, flexible, and enjoyable product used for listening to books,
computer files, and music.

Thank you,
The HumanWare Team

Categories: Uncategorized

Visual Verification: EarthLink Implements Audio CAPTCHA for spamBlocker, Tears Down "No Blind People Allowed" Sign

March 8, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

One of my tasks as ACB Radio’s volunteer webmaster is to send responses to feedback from listeners. After sending a note to an EarthLink customer this morning, I promptly received one of the company’s dreaded invitations to add my e-mail address to the customer’s approved senders list, so that my response and all future correspondence could be delivered successfully. In the past, these messages linked to a request form containing an inaccessible CAPTCHA (visual verification) that did not permit blind and visually impaired people to add themselves to the approved senders list of any EarthLink customer. The result was that some e-mail senders were not permitted to communicate with EarthLink customers with spamBlocker configured at its maximum level of protection, simply due to their physical lack of eye sight. On July 18, 2006, I wrote an article entitled Visual Verification Accessibility: Nobody Home at Earthlink covering exactly this issue.

This morning, I noticed an important difference in the request form linked from the invitation. An audio CAPTCHA has been included, now affording blind and visually impaired users the opportunity to request communication with all the company’s customers, regardless of spamBlocker settings. It turns out that, according to an update announcement posted to the company’s Web Mail Blog, the audio CAPTCHA was added on November 3, 2006. I am glad to see this issue finally resolved after almost three years of inaccessibility, and appreciate EarthLink’s reasonable audio playback CAPTCHA implementation.

Reading Machines Seminar Broadcast Live on ACB Radio World

March 6, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker
Reading Machines Seminar
March 7, 2008,  
Panel Presentations: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm, PST
Please join us at the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, for the fourth in our series of technology workshops, to discuss electronic devices that give the blind and visually impaired access to print documents by means of magnification or Optical Character Recognition.
Are you tired of waiting for days to have your mail read?  Would you like to be able to read books and magazines by yourself without having to rely on someone to produce them in an accessible format?  If so, it may be time for you to get a reading machine.
The Reading Machines Seminar will be broadcast live on ACB Radio World at 21:00 UTC, Friday, March 7.  You are invited to listen by following this link:
Categories: Uncategorized