Tuesday, 1 July 2008



As a statistic, I am 68, registered blind and hard of hearing. I wear two excellent digital hearing aids so, in many circumstances, I hear what I need to. I have had weak vision all my life and so am totally happy about that. With Margaret, I run a thriving business which is somewhat unusual as a business model but its all great. I am living where I want to be, with the person I want to be with and doing the things I want to do. So no room here for the doom and gloom of the credit squeeze, the down-turn in the economy and all that. Our software is largely free to blind people anyway and the numbers using it are rising day by day.

So, if you want to join us here at Screenreader.net, and ignore the general doom and gloom, here’s how you could play a part in a great project:

Translating the talking software into other languages:
So far we have the Thunder talking software in six languages; English, French, German, Italian, Estonian and Slovak. We have part translations in other languages too. We know there are blind and partially sighted people in all countries who would benefit from the talking computer with no funds to pay for the costly alternatives. So we welcome, please, an email or a phone call from anyone who can help with translation. Its partly a question of translating the manuals and tutorials and partly a question of translating the software package itself so that the menus, dialogs and features speak appropriately. We can give help and support, of course.

Writing Visual Basic Scripts: It is possible that no computer program is perfect and there is always room for improvement and more development. The Thunder software serves many people really well and makes easy much of what needs to be done on the computer without sight. But in schools and at work and even at home, there will always be a need to improve what Sensory Software Ltd has created and to extend the accessibility possibilities to new tasks and applications. So we welcome, please, an email or a phone call from anyone who has the capability and enthusiasm to modify or create Visual Basic scripts for this purpose. Your work will give blind and partially sighted people in great numbers a huge uplift as they struggle to improve their quality of life.

Feedback: We have thousands of Thunder users worldwide and, human nature being what it is, we don’t hear from those who, like us, use the software every day without problems. That’s great and just as it should be. But when there are problems, please, we would like to hear from you so we can put things right, or do our best to do so. We are reluctant to send out evaluation forms and questionnaires to everyone but we welcome your input and suggestions.

Interestingly, much of the feedback we do get falls into two major categories: Some blind people make the talking computer their hobby and their life; So we get feedback from those who already have one or more screenreader software packages on their computers with voice conflict problems or “moans” that Thunder does not behave like the others they are used to. The feedback we get from new users of talking software is very different indeed. Its almost always very positive and enthusiastic. But it’s the third kind of feedback we are now looking for; i.e. positive suggestions and tips to improve what we do for those who can’t afford expensive screenreader talking software.

The Finances: Any new business will struggle for the first year or so and this is especially true, probably, for a social not for profit enterprise like ours. Its almost two years to the day since Thunder was first launched and we are delighted to be able to say that we have money in the bank to continue what we are doing for the foreseeable future. With the long-term in mind, though, we need now to take a look at how we sustain a Screenreader.net revenue. A modest annual charge to each user would more than meet our costs but we don’t want to go down that road because even a modest charge would be beyond the resources of many individuals. Again, your suggestions would be very welcome, please. I will return to financial matters in a future blog.

So here are our contact details:
-mail: ask@screenreader.net
+44 (0) 1733 234441. We look forward to hearing from you.