Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Open Letter to Blind Journalists Visiting CSUN

Every year, I eagerly await the reports from the CSUN convention floor. I follow Main Menu, Blind Bargains and assorted blogs.

And I am always disappointed. This is the major technology conference, and you make sacrifices in both time and financing to attend.

Yet, instead of sniffing out stories, you consistently report on information that marketers push in your face. I can always learn the newest features in JAWS by simply visiting the Freedom Scientific Website. I don't want to hear a report about some new-fangled vibrating tactile electronic graphics system that is now being tested at an obscure university in south Korea. And I don't care about the latest camera-based portable OCR reading device that costs two grand and is manufactured bhy Independence Solutions, a company nobody's heard of.

Instead, I want to know what phones other blind attendees are loving and which ones are giving them fits. I want to know if Adobe's presentation on its highly touted Digital Editions is finally an accessible platform or if the presentation was just nmore hype about improvements planned for the future. I want to know which screen readers or ebook devices were duelling this year, and especially which tasks the looser performed well on.

Step out of the sessions exclusively for the blind and visit something on ebook accessibility, learning disabilities or access to distance education. Talk with the many teachers who attend about their experiences serving our community.

Spend less of your time in the convention hall, and stop quoting the color brochures. Devote that time interviewing ordinary attendees, and find out what technology has disappointed them the last couple of years.

Get proactive and enlighten me with CSUN coverage I am unlikely to discover through other sources.


Sent this out to as many people as I could think of and got a few interesting replies.

Most complained that the $500 conference fee was a barrier, but to me it seems the interesting discussions are happening outside of the sessions. One person griped that the more over-funded some presenter was, the less likely his presentation was to have unique content.

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