Monday, 3 November 2008


Blog: More Success for Thunder

Sometimes, but not very often, we feel the need to moan. It’s a bad old world and when thousands of people are so misused in the Congo and Jonathan Ross gets the BBC News headlines in the UK…well one could lose hope. Similarly, we sometimes wonder if we really can include poor blind people in the computer age when so many large blindness organisations only bang on about software which is absolutely out of reach of millions of pockets. But then we get fabulous emails from Thunder users and some formal recognition from “the powers that be”.

So Thunder is up for two more awards before Christmas and has won its first small Government contract here in the UK.

TalkTalk is a leading provider here of mobile phones and Broadband internet services. TalkTalk has a good reputation for being straightforward and not too expensive at the same time. Thunder has been given an award for IT services to disadvantaged communities and Margaret and I are off to the House of Lords on Wednesday for the presentation. We also get a business mentoring session with Martha Lane-Fox, the best known co-founder of

And on December 1 we both get what looks like being a great night out in London. We are short-listed as Disabled Social Entrepreneur of the Year, UK hosted by RADAR at the Battersea Evolution. We should rub shoulders with the great and the good from Government and the private sector and spread the word on behalf of blind people needing computers which they can enjoy using.

We don’t, of course, regard such prizes as personal to us. But they do help Thunder, Sensory Software Ltd and CIC to become known and this has the effect of bringing in more and more supporters and users. Its possible, for example, that our Ministry for Communities award for services to e-participation earlier in the year has played a part in us getting our first UK Government contract..

The UK Ministry of Justice website is technically accessible according to agreed standards. But that’s only part of the story from a blind user’s viewpoint. So we will provide specialist helpline support by telephone or email, to help individuals who need to perform a specific task on the website which is proving a challenge. If they struggle to do what they need to do about a passport, the individual can get in touch with our helpline and be guided through the process. And they won’t be told to click on this or that because our helpline people are visually impaired themselves and know the challenges of not being able to see the mouse pointer.

Lastly, its great to come across another company who wants to make something free for those not able to afford the costly stuff. Jarte ( is such a company in the word processing sector. The creators of Jarte have produced something which just works out of the box – a simple word processor which will do all the things us normal people want to do at home or in a small business. But its small and friendly and not like the Titanic unwieldy liner which most of us come across at work. Jarte have agreed to make it work with Thunder, like it does already with other screenreaders, at the next version but if anyone wants to trial it now, please email me and I will pass on the simple instruction which will take just a couple of lines.

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