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I am a dedicated user of the JAWS screen access program from Freedom Scientific. But while JAWS is still very much my screen reader or choice, and I absolutely don't see that changing, I have to give credit where credit is due. A company called Serotek has teamed up with a new nonprofit organization called The AIR Foundation to make its screen-access-over-the-web product available free of charge. This is a big thing, because now I could walk up to many computers, plop myself down, and get the computers talking. While the big screen reader companies, namely Freedom Scientific and GW Micro haven't taken Serotek particularly seriously in the past, they're going to have to sit up and take notice, because they are able to offer, free of charge, some of what we are now paying many hundreds of dollars for. There's a fair bit this product will not do, or will not do as well as the competition, but there's also an awful lot that it will do, and will do well. This alliance, and the competition it will bring, will only be a good thing for blind people, I think, not to mention the opportunities that are being made available. From a personal standpoint, I don't particularly like the idea of getting accessibility through charity, but that's a personal thing and not one I'm going to let my pride make me lose sleep over.

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Bruce Toews

June 2017

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