Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Thunder In Europe

I was away in Graz, Austria, for three days last week and it was great. The EU often gets a bad press here in the UK but I was amongst good people with a shared mission to spread the free screenreader throughout Europe, or at least into Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Ireland, Estonia and Slovakia. Funding has been made available to us all to have the Thunder program and manuals translated into these languages, free disks for distribution and even a budget to allow us all to disseminate the message throughout our countries.

There was a broad understanding that, Thunder is not just a baby-JAWS and OK for beginners. Thunder is the latest technology and has been designed to be both simple to use and very robust.

The high cost alternatives perhaps unintentionally exclude ordinary blind men and women in the street. It seems you have to be in work or a clever student to get blind-friendly access to a computer in most countries even in the Western World and we wanted very much to put this wrong right.

I had the opportunity to meet a senior person from the European Blind Union. He is a friend of Lord Colin Low so I was able to tell him how much help RNIB have been in supporting our project. Not a lot is the truth so, hopefully , he will enlighten Lord Low and maybe influence him. Who knows and his organisation.!!! We have learned that the UK blind organisations show little interest in what we are doing and I interpret this as indicating that we are definitely on the right lines.

I am realising that we shall have to become much bolder in our PR approach and challenge the conventional wisdom on computer access if we really want to make changes. I am up for the challenge.

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