Thursday, April 29, 2004

This is so cool! We now have manuals in Thai for our Martus human rights software. We've been working with our partner, the Asia Foundation, to do the Thai translation. That's in addition to English, Russian and Spanish. And more are on the way: we've started work on French and Arabic as well.

Monday, April 26, 2004

I just got back from the Minnesota Statewide Vision Conference in Duluth, where I gave the keynote address on one of my favorite topics: cell phones as the future platform for adaptive technology for people with disabilities. It's entitled "In the Palm of Your Hand," and is based on my JVIB (the main journal in the visual impairment field) article of the same title.

It was great to sit down with many teachers of visually impaired students and hear from them first hand about their kids and their needs. It's easy to forget how complicated the technology can be when you work on the creation of it day to day. One of the things I learned that amazed me was how many of the students with vision impairments have other disabilities (such as cognitive disabilities). One of the great ideas I heard from a teacher at the conference was the need for an "OnStar for the cognitively impaired." OnStar is a service for high-end cars that has GPS and cell phone capabilities built in and gets you assistance when you need it (car crash, problems with the car, etc.). This teacher's point was that many more individuals could live independently if they could occasionally get help when they run into a problem.

We also had plenty of time to talk about Bookshare.org, and trade information. Teachers are very interested in the new technologies for getting books, especially textbooks. My host for this conference in Minnesota, Donna McNear, is a leader in the teacher community and represents the teachers of the visually impaired on our Bookshare.org advisory group. I am glad that she arranged for me to attend this conference and get a feeling for the passion teachers have for teaching their kids, and the challenges they face.

And, as a bonus, I got to see a bald eagle flying overhead of the interstate as I drove between Minneapolis and Duluth. It was an excellent adventure!

Monday, April 12, 2004

Check out Social Edge, which is an incredible on-line community of people engaged in social entrepreneurship and the ideas that support the field. Created and operated by the Skoll Foundation, it has a wealth of information. Skoll also manages to engage the leaders of the field to participate in on-line discussions: people like Muhammud Yunus, Jed Emerson and Jeff Skoll (cofounder of EBay) come to mind.