Monday, June 23, 2008

Remembering Peter Scialli

I know that the Bookshare.org community will be sad to hear of the passing of one of our original staff members, Peter Scialli.
Peter Scialli at a computer, half turned to the camera, Bookshare.org on the screen
Peter started working with me over twenty years ago, with his access tech company ShrinkWrap Computing. The name was a play on Peter's Ph.D. in psychology, which was his other career path beyond technology, which he loved so well. Peter became one of the top dealers of the Arkenstone reading machines, Benetech's founding social enterprise. When we sold Arkenstone to another company, Peter offered to fill our technical support needs on an interim basis. This coverage really helped with a difficult transition.

Peter then stepped into the role of alpha Bookshare.org user and support guy. His photo was our user photo (see the picture above). He was our main and only tech support staffer for the early years of Bookshare.org. He left us a few years ago to go back to his original profession of psychology, and became a project director of a counseling agency.

Peter's impact on the field of access technology for the blind was major. He moderated email lists, organized conference sessions (I particularly remember Dueling Scanners) and wrote articles for the journals in the field. Peter believed strongly in the power of technology to help people with disabilities, became an expert in the field and then committed himself to sharing that expertise widely.

His knowledge, sense of humor and dedication will be sorely missed.

2 comments:

Gil Honigfeld said...

For reasons I can not explain, in recent months I had been thinking about my former student, Peter Scialli. In searching for a current email address I got to your post and the sad news that he had died. I admired Peter a lot as a scholar and as a person -- he had smarts and he had grit. After he graduated, married, and moved to the DC area we dropped out of touch, as is all too common in our frantic lives. I regret waiting so long to reach out to him again. But, if immortality has something to do with the permanent impressions we make on others, then Peter's spirit lives on. If you are in contact with his family, please express my condolences.

Gil Honigfeld

John said...

I only just discovered this very sad news. Peter was one of my first friends I made in the adaptive technology business, and he also was one of my biggest influences and, in a way, a mentor as well. His sense of humor, level headedness and intelligence were all qualities that I valued a great deal. I will truly miss him, and I can say that I am proud to have known him. If anyone can pass along my condolences to Peter's family, I'd sincerely appreciate it.

God speed, old friend.