Transcript: AT Banter Episode 227 – Calvo Returns

Rob Mineault
Hey, and welcome to another episode of AT Banter. Banter.

Steve Barclay
Banter Banter

Rob Mineault
My name is Rob Mineault and joining me today for his triumphant return to the podcast. Mr. Steve Barclay.

Steve Barclay
Hello.

Ryan Fleury
That’s triumphant sounding.

Rob Mineault
Yeah. All right. Anyways, hey, also joining me today, Mr. Ryan Fleury.

Ryan Fleury
Hello, everybody.

Steve Barclay
No way, it is! He’s a radio star now and he’s still hanging with us!

Ryan Fleury
So is Rob. He was with me.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, yeah. I have to we have to give a shout out to Shellie And Chris over there at CKCU FM. what’s the what’s the call? What’s their, what’s their what’s their numbers Ryan?

Ryan Fleury
93.1 fm

Rob Mineault
I know they even got us to cut some promos

Steve Barclay
ckCu. That’s Cuckoo.

Rob Mineault
Yeah. It was a lot of fun. I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea. Ryan just told me “Hey, we’re doing an interview”. And I said, Okay. But anyways, we should we should set this up. So Shellie Ann Morris. She’s the co host of a little show called “Welcome to my world” on CKCU and she invited us on to have a little bit of a chat last week and it was a lot of fun.

Steve Barclay
Excellent.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah. We talked about everything about Canadian Assistive Technology. We talked about AT banter. We talked about my music, we talked about Blind Beginnings.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, we just had plugs up the wazoo. It was good.

Steve Barclay
Holy schmoly.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, it was great. But it was it was great. It was a really fun conversation. It’s nice, man. I I’m telling you like it’s so nice, when you appear on somebody else’s show because you don’t have to worry about anything.

Steve Barclay
It’s not on you. Yeah, I’ve been interviewed a couple times on AMI. And you know, when you’re sitting there and you’re having a lull, it’s their problem.

Rob Mineault
That’s right. When you **** up you’re just like, yeah sorry Chris.

Steve Barclay
Sorry, Grant.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, it was a lot of fun. So, you know, we’ll have that we’ll have to actually have Shellie on the show, at some point. And talk a little bit about about that, because now she’s a co host. She hosts that show with Kim Kirkpatrick.

Ryan Fleury
Usually, yeah, yeah, usually. So it’s just been Shellie Ann Morris for the last little while since the pandemic, basically. And Shellie also works for the Canadian Council of the Blind as well. And is a low vision triathlete.

Steve Barclay
Oh, no way. I can barely get myself going on one athlete.

Ryan Fleury
I’m gonna bring up something that happened today that I thought was kind of interesting. And a bit of a flash from the past.

Rob Mineault
Oh, really?

Ryan Fleury
We had an email from a Mr. Dean Blazie.

Steve Barclay
Oh, that’s right.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah. And Dean Blazie was him and his brother Brian. Were the creators of the Braille and Speak

Steve Barclay
Brian is his son.

Ryan Fleury
Oh, is he?

Steve Barclay
Yeah.

Ryan Fleury
Oh, okay. I thought they were brothers.

Steve Barclay
No, no, no, Dean. Dean’s his dad.

Ryan Fleury
Okay. Well, then you tell the story.

Steve Barclay
Well, they were the creator of the the ever popular Braille and speak.

Ryan Fleury
That’s right, which I just I happened to have it in my drawer and turned it on today and it works.

Rob Mineault
So sorry, could you could you fill me in? What’s a Braille and speak?

Steve Barclay
So Braille and speak was an early Braille note taker. There was there was another one that was out before that I think Dean worked at the company before then but he struck off on his own and he created his own called the Braille and speak and it was basically a Braille keyboard with speech output. And you brailled away on the keyboard and it spoke to you and had a note taker and it had a bunch of bunch of other minor functions. Over the years that it got turned into the Braille Light. There were successive models of the Braille Speak, but there was also the Braille Light which had refreshable Braille display on it. They, they just kept building on it and building on it and eventually the company, Blazie Engineering was purchased by Freedom Scientific. Was was made part of that Freedom Scientific consortium back before Vispero became Vispero and took over everything so …

Ryan Fleury
but definitely pioneers in the industry.

Steve Barclay
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Totally. So Dean used to fly around the country in his in his private plane or on the plane and he used to fly around promoting these the Braile and Speak. So if you were at a show, you could almost be guaranteed that Dean flew there on his own. And then later, Brian, his son took up the mantle of, of vice president of sales, I think it was, and he started flying around and promoting the things but they were all kinds of fun back in the early days of Assistive Technology, because they loved loved loved their wine and their parties, through the best parties. And they they bought people a lot of wine. And I have to say to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever drank a more expensive bottle of wine than the bottles of wine that Brian bought me at dinner. Oh, I can’t remember how many years ago now. Yeah, they were pricey. But he’s, but he seemed to like him. And he was paying the bill. So even better.

Rob Mineault
So let me get this straight. So then then so Freedom, freedom scientific, bought them up, and then and then they sort of absorbed that technology and they started developing sort of a next generation of, of note takers.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, this model, even before that, Blazie Dean and Blazie Engineering bought the assets of Telesensory when Telesensory was going out of business. And so they merged so Telesensory became part of Blazie Engineering. Blazie Engineering became part of the three companies that merged to form Freedom Scientific. So it was Blazie Engineering, Henter Joyce and

Ryan Fleury
arkenstone

Steve Barclay
Thank you. Those three companies formed. Freedom Scientific.

Rob Mineault
Man, that’s fascinating. And Ryan, you said you plugged it in and it worked?

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, I plugged it in that it charged about 10 minutes, I turned it on, I could bring up the options menu, I could create a new file, everything worked just like it did the day I got it.

Rob Mineault
And you know, they just don’t make them like that anymore.

Ryan Fleury
Nope.

Steve Barclay
No. And you know what, there’s still tons of those old devices, Braille Lites, Braille and Speaks kicking around in people’s drawers that they maybe haven’t parted with yet. And Rick at Chaos Services, could probably get them running again, even if the batteries have died. Even if the backup batteries have died, he’s repaired so many of those things.

Rob Mineault
Man, you know, and that’s so it’s interesting that you bring that up, right? Because I also this week had or the last few weeks, actually, I’ve had sort of intimate experience with used assistive technology. Over at Blind Beginnings, we we had some some tech donated to us. And what we’ve sort of realized is that it can be a real challenge in getting older pieces of AT running and really, you know, trying to even determine a value of them. Because when they become outdated, it’s really hard to like get drivers or to get parts or even to get any sort of support from the manufacturers. Because once a model goes sort of defunct, that’s it like they stopped, they stopped servicing them and they stopped making drivers for them. And because a lot of these devices will, say, hook into your computer. If the drivers don’t match up with with the current generation of Windows, well, it becomes a paperweight.

Ryan Fleury
Yes, it can be an exercise in futility to get some to work.

Rob Mineault
In a way, it’s a kind of a shame because what it does is that it really kills sort of the the used market for these devices. Because the last few weeks, we’ve been sort of complaining and lamenting the fact that there isn’t more funding options for people to get the assistive technology they need. And it really, it seems to be a shame when you have something like a, you know, say a 10 year old notetaker, that would work great for somebody. But there’s just no way to really get it running on today’s computers, because it’s outdated, because you can’t get new drivers for it. And because having a robust used market for some of these devices, I would think would be one way where you could actually get some devices usable devices to the people that need them.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, and I look on eBay every once in a while and you can get you know, like freedom scientific PACMate notetaker. And you can get PACMate, you know, 20 or 40. Sell braille displays for you know, 5 or 6 hundred dollars on eBay. Now, you know, they say working condition, but if it was to die tomorrow, the day after you get it, you know, are you out the 500 bucks or will Freedom Scientific repair it? Can anybody repair it? So you still tend to take your chances on a used marketplace? Right?

Steve Barclay
Let me mention Rick again. He’s repaired billions.

Rob Mineault
But I mean, isn’t part of the problem? Like say a PACMate, for example, say a PACMate notetaker is — do you have any hope of being able to connect that to say a laptop is running Windows 10?

Steve Barclay
Yes.

Ryan Fleury
Okay, well, there’s,

Rob Mineault
there’s there’s still drivers available?

Ryan Fleury
Yes. But they keep the keep in mind. The Pac Man was running Windows Mobile, and that it used compact flash cards for wire for Wi Fi and Ethernet. So yes, no,

Steve Barclay
You’re not you’re not going to use the notetaker portion of that. But the the Braille does the Braille display.

Ryan Fleury
Yes, absolutely. Yeah.

Steve Barclay
sockets and you can use that on a Windows 10. Computer. Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, yes, the the notetaker portion of it is so far obsolete. I mean, it was obsolete when it came out, really. But it was based on Windows CE II, and, you know, you’re not gonna be able to connect it to really anything meaningful anymore. But, yeah, the Braille display itself, it’ll keep marching on.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, it’s a shame. It’s just a shame. I just think of all this used AT that’s out there that are just that isn’t usable anymore. And, yeah, sucks, because you’re buying something new is so expensive.

Steve Barclay
Or it’s worse to me is when you see AT that’s just sitting in closets that is recoverable, like, you know, people have spent, you know, 1000s of dollars, particularly on things like refreshable Braille notetakers and when the batteries die in them, they end up in a closet and they go “Well, that doesn’t work anymore”. Instead of being sent to someplace for repair where it can be revived. You know, there’s there’s so much equipment that’s that’s just died on the shelf because of that. And it’s a total waste, especially since this stuff is so expensive. However, it does keep me in business so…

Rob Mineault
I mean, don’t you find that like, there really isn’t a resale or used marketplace for assistive —

Unknown Speaker
Well, I I I put the Gently Used section on the Canadian Assistive Technology website in the hopes that it would turn into a bit of a marketplace for you know, people to buy and sell used at but it’s really rare that something gets sold off of that that site you know, there’s some some fabulous bargains there. And and, you know, more people would use it if stuff moved, but it just doesn’t move. Like like Ryan said, I think that people are really concerned that you know, if they buy a piece of used equipment and it keels over tomorrow, that they’re going to be stuck with a paperweight that they just spend a bunch of money on, but, but there are some great deals to be had for sure.

Rob Mineault
Well, that’s true. I mean, you know, even, you know, even a Braille display that’s that’s marked down incredibly like 90% you’re still looking at, you know, hundreds of dollars. And, you know, yeah, that’s a huge risk to spend that much that kind of money and then have the device die, because it’s 25 years old.

Steve Barclay
Yeah, yeah, indeed.

Rob Mineault
Well, we got geeky.

Steve Barclay
We totally nerd it out there, man.

Rob Mineault
So I want you so Ryan, I want you to tell the audience though, what your idea? Because after you did that you did you did sort of throw a message in the Slack channel. You came up with an idea for a show. And I want you to share that with the audience. So well, I love this idea.

Ryan Fleury
Oh, really? You really want me Okay. Well, if I announce it, we have to do it.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, that’s right.

Ryan Fleury
Okay, well on February 27 is National Retro Day. And so what I threw out to the boys Rob and Steve was that we do a retro 80s podcast.

Steve Barclay
That’ll be totally gnarly.

Ryan Fleury
So, we just need to work out a date and time before that so we can post it that week. Shuffle a couple of shows around, and we will get something recorded.

Steve Barclay
Dude, it’s gonna be totally tubular all about the ladies.

Rob Mineault
So okay, well, let’s okay, let’s let’s workshop this right now. What what are we gonna do? Are we gonna talk tech technology? Or are we just gonna like just

Ryan Fleury
I think we can do

Rob Mineault
What do you want to do?

Ryan Fleury
Well, I think we can do everything, like we can do Movies, TV, we can do Music, we can do AT related stuff we can do.

Rob Mineault
Like God, dude, how long is that podcasts gonna be I can talk for an hour just about the Back to the Future movies.

Ryan Fleury
No, no, no, no, no, it’d be like a roundtable. I think.

Steve Barclay
There were only two good ones anyway.

Ryan Fleury
That’s right. Karate Kid.

Steve Barclay
Yes.

Ryan Fleury
What was the second?

Steve Barclay
What’s Terminator? Well, I mean, jeez.

Ryan Fleury
Okay.

Rob Mineault
All the Indiana Jones movies, etc. Like anything Spielberg related…

Ryan Fleury
I know, I did a search online there was like, okay, Knight Rider came out. Airwolf came out. Yeah, it was like, oh, such great TV. Yep, Dukes of Hazzard was 79. But that led into the 80s.

Steve Barclay
I just pulled up a list of popular 80s movies, dude. So we got material.

Ryan Fleury
There’s tons of material, the 80s from a blindness point of view, because I had sight back then I have, you know, it has to be had to been kind of different. You know, were they wearing blue eyeshadow like the rest of us? You know? Yeah. How did they make big hair?

Rob Mineault
Yeah, that must have taken forever. That’s a lot of hairspray. Yeah, that is what did kill the ozone. Yeah, the hairspray.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, so we need we need a meeting to work all this out.

Rob Mineault
But yeah, I look forward to that. This month, everybody. Yeah, it should be fun. AT Banter 80s edition. Yeah. Miami Vice. I was so into Miami Vice.

Ryan Fleury
Well, my wife. My wife, Linda was actually saying we should do this as a video podcast. So we will actually all turn our webcams on, we dress 80s, have 80s Music

Rob Mineault
Man, do we want to do a video podcast?

I don’t know if I can dress like the 80s anymore

Ryan Fleury
I don’t think Yeah,

Steve Barclay
I don’t know. Polo polo shirt.

Ryan Fleury
Oh, that’s true.

Rob Mineault
Hey, I got for my grad .. This is really embarrassing. For my Grad, I picked out a Miami Vice Tux. That was that the sports jacket was like salmon pink. Pants were white. White shoes.

Ryan Fleury
Do you have a picture? We need a picture.

Rob Mineault
I think I might.

Ryan Fleury
Oh, you gotta dig that up.

Rob Mineault
Okay, I’ll see if I can dig it.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, we need that for the podcast that’s going in the show notes.

Steve Barclay
Yeah. Fabulous.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah. That’s awesome.

Rob Mineault
Well, all right. Hey, on that note, right? Hey Ryan.

Ryan Fleury
What?

Rob Mineault
What are we doing today?

Ryan Fleury
Today we’re doing a follow up show with Mike Calvo and Matt Campbell on their company numerous solutions and a new functionality they’ve added to their products Scribe. Scribe is a service that allows people to create accessible documents that may have been inaccessible before that. And now they’ve added the functionality to upload a PowerPoint presentation. And bing bang boom, you’ve got an accessible presentation.

Steve Barclay
Accessible PowerPoint presentations.

Ryan Fleury
Yep,

Steve Barclay
Even when the prof is an idiot and you don’t need to know anything about making it accessible. It does it all for you. The power of AI.

Rob Mineault
This is certainly striking while the iron is hot because this is exactly the time that we need something like this.

Steve Barclay
This is this is going to do two things. One it will make a lot of presentations accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired and two, it is going to frustrate the hell out of accessibility people who have been trying to teach their profs to make accessible presentation.

Ryan Fleury
You can’t win for trying

Steve Barclay
30 years I’ve been banging my head against this wall.

Dammit, Calvo.

Rob Mineault
Oh, yeah. The 21st century man, we’re all going to be replaced by robots and AI soon enough. No,

Ryan Fleury
it’s not the 22nd century, isn’t it?

Rob Mineault
No, I had to think about that. No, no, because like the Star Trek was like the 24th century. It’s so

Ryan Fleury
24th, Holy cow.

Rob Mineault
We’re jumping ahead. No, that’s Forget it. Those are more movies.

Steve Barclay
Duck Dodgers was in the 25th and a half century.

Rob Mineault
Oh, man. Although I have to admit like, Dude, don’t you love going back and watching 80s movies? Were they? The sci fi movies and they they based them in like, you know, in 2020? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Completely futurescape like Blade Runner was set in 2016 or something?

Steve Barclay
Yeah, and it really wasn’t that far off.

Rob Mineault
Oh, yeah. I wish. Where’s my Daryl Hannah sexbot?

Ryan Fleury
amazon.com

Rob Mineault
No, it’s not it’s not there. I checked.

Ryan Fleury
Oh, boy.

Steve Barclay
Actually it set in November 2019. Blade Runner.

Rob Mineault
Is it 2019 2019?

Steve Barclay
Yeah. Yeah.

Rob Mineault
No flying cars yet. Thanks a lot.

Ryan Fleury
Yes, sir.

Steve Barclay
Dammit. Well, there are, yeah, but not enough of them.

Rob Mineault
Yeah. Their too expensive. Still, we can’t even afford a Tesla.

Unknown Speaker
What happened to those flying taxis that they were supposedly going to be testing in Vegas did when Vegas shut down? They just decided not to do that.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, I remember that. I wonder what happened to hoverboards we didn’t hoverboard. We didn’t get hoverboards.

Steve Barclay
Yeah, actually, we did. And I believe they caught on fire.

Ryan Fleury
Oh Okay.

Rob Mineault
That the only problem?

Ryan Fleury
So your shoes melt

Steve Barclay
2023 Uber set sights on launching flying taxis in 2023. in Vegas.

Rob Mineault
Well, okay.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, I think that’s about the time I’ll be ready to travel again. So we’ll see.

Steve Barclay
All right. If you go to Amazon right now…

Ryan Fleury
There’s a Daryl Hannah sexpot?

Unknown Speaker
Hoverboards. Only they’ve got wheels on them. So they’re not …

Rob Mineault
I know. And I think Nike did make a model of shoe that was modeled after the the self lacing shoes from Back to the Future 2.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah.

Rob Mineault
But they just made it as like a gimmicky thing. But like, honestly, that was a great idea to why don’t we have those like you just slip your your shoe in? And everything tightens up? No, we got Velcro, which you can’t even get anymore either. Because it turned out that everybody thought that was geeky. But it was convenient. I’d wear Velcro shoes.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, but we’re getting old.

Rob Mineault
See, we’re cannibalizing the 80s show. We should be doing this on the 80s show.

Ryan Fleury
Oh, we will be. There’s plenty together. Only there were no hoverboards in the 80s.

Rob Mineault
So you know,

Steve Barclay
I think I think we have to deal with the reality of the 80s not the speculation.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, true

Ryan Fleury
Well, that might be an interesting look as well.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, really.

Ryan Fleury
Hi, everyone.

Joining us now are Mike Calvo and Matt Campbell from Pneuma Solutions. So how you guys doing?

Mike Calvo
We’re doing good.

Ryan Fleury
It’s Groundhog Day today I saw. Any special events to celebrate the fuzzy creatures?

Mike Calvo
Besides the fact that he’s gonna he saw his shadow so he said I’m gonna go hide again. Oh, no, another six weeks. So and I’m in Orlando. And the temperature here with wind chill in in Fahrenheit is about 20 which my wife who does things in the what the rest of the world does says it’s about 5 .. it is crazy.

Matt Campbell
You know Groundhog Day always makes me think of the movie Groundhog Day, which makes me think of the song [sings] You know, the one that that Phil always wakes up to every time they repeat?

Mike Calvo
Yes!

Ryan Fleury
It’s funny. So Mike, let me do some quick introductions because I don’t know if Matt knows who Rob is. But Matt Campbell is with Pneuma Solutions, previously of Microsoft and Serotech. And Mike Calvo, as most of you will know, is founder and CEO, or was is of Serotech, and now Pneuma Solutions. So we spoke to you last in June of last year, actually, it was further back than I thought. It was regarding what’s going on with Serotech and your new company, Pneuma Solutions and a product that you’ve rolled out called Scribe. Can you just give us a quick overview of what scribe is?

Mike Calvo
Sure. Scribe is what we call an augmented media remediation platform. And what that means is we basically do what humans have been doing, whether it be remediating documents, whether it be remediating content in meetings like this, and we’re gonna talk about that today. And hopefully in the future, remediating even video content on the on the internet, but all with the use of machine learning, which is where the augmented comes from. And as we advance going forward, the beauty of our of our technology is because it’s machine learning, it’s not just us kind of guessing things it learns, according to how we show it that it made mistakes and doing what it does. Now, we, we released Scribe for document remediation at the beginning of last year, in March. And we all know what happened in March. So we kind of had to go back to the drawing board and say, Okay, what are we going to do now with this technology. And what we realized was that there’s a lot of folks at home, a lot of blind folks at home, that can’t access content from Zoom meetings or Teams meetings, anything that’s shared on the screen, mostly PowerPoint presentations, can’t be accessed by a blind attendee in real time. Sure, they can be given the the slideshow or whatever in advance, usually about five or 10 minutes before, at which point the blind person has to struggle through learning what the PowerPoint presentation is, and then listening to the presenter and trying to determine where in that PowerPoint, the presenter is. So as you can imagine, it cuts down on productivity a whole lot. In what Mr. Campbell over here did was he designed a way for technical for a presenter to upload their slides to a cloud service. And the attendee can simply go to a custom URL and, and see the content that the presenter is showing on their screen in real time on any device with an accessible browser, which is really amazing, just in itself.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, and you know, that added functionality to be able to access a presentation from PowerPoint, on the fly. It’s so beneficial. Like you mentioned right now, during the pandemic, we’ve got more and more people, learning from home working from home, attending meetings from home. And you’re like you said, trying to learn how to use PowerPoint in the time it takes to access our presentation just isn’t feasible. So does this system or this process work with other applications other than PowerPoint?

Mike Calvo
At this time, it does not at this time. We have the engine tuned to the PowerPoint presentations in Zoom and we are expanding as the year progresses we’ll be expanding into other platforms teams is the next one. But there’s a lot of to not bore you with the details. There’s a lot that goes into for example, if somebody shows a Word document or somebody shows a an XLS, spreadsheet up there, whatever whatever they have, many people share their entire screen. And the technology does not do well at all when people share their entire screen. It really does its best right now, when it is a dedicated PowerPoint presentation, which thank God is you know, a majority of the presentations out there we were not going to do them all yet. But, you know, what I’ve learned to say when it comes to designing with machine learning tools is not yet never no, just not yet.

Matt Campbell
Now to clarify, if the presenter is using a slide package, other than PowerPoint, for instance, if they’re using Keynote, or Google Slides, it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter which slide package they’re using to actually show the presentation. If they can get us a file in the in the PowerPoint format, and an upload that to the Scribe for Meetings service beforehand, because what happens is, the presenter isn’t running anything on their machine during the presentation, they upload the slide deck in advance. And then when the blind attendee connects to Scribe for Meetings, we send in what we call the Scribe bot, the Scribe bot connects to the meeting, and looks at the screen and says, “oh, the presenter is on slide three now”. So it’s it’s matching up what it sees on the screen with the slide deck that the presenter uploaded in advance.

Ryan Fleury
And that’s very cool. So does it also give you the ability to that, let’s say the presenter is, you know, advancing the slides faster than you’re actually able to look at the information, retain the information, read the information, does it give you the ability to go backwards and review it?

Mike Calvo
Great question. And that is what we, we internally call DVR mode, and losing that term, so much man that I think it’s going to end up being that. But in DVR mode, what you can do is you can go backwards, much like a DVR and your TV, you’ll be able to go backwards in the presentation. So let’s say I’m on slide three, and you’re gonna go up to four, or five and six, but I’m still trying to figure out what’s on slide three, I’ll be able to pause slide three. And then when I unpause, I will be able to just go forward, you know, it just page down, page down, page down, page down. And basically, it’ll just be one big long page that keeps being added to that you can page through, if you want to look at what’s going, you know, in kind of suspended animation very similar to your DVR mode. And at that point, you can, you know, take your notes or whatever. And ultimately, what we’re going to be able to do too, is be able to give you the ability to download and save at the discretion of the provider of the content, of course, in alternative formats, Braille, large print, mp3, DAISY, epub, accessible epub, all just at the click of a button. And by the way, I didn’t mention before, but the presenter doesn’t need to know a darn thing about accessibility, we provide WCAG 2.1 compatible HTML, regardless of pretty much what you give it.

Matt Campbell
And we fill in image descriptions using a cloud service, currently the Microsoft Cloud Service.

Ryan Fleury
Right. So do we also have the ability then to interact with a slide? Like there’s links in there? Or, you know, audio files, you have the ability to interact with that?

Matt Campbell
Links, yes. Audio files, no. Because the assumption is that the presenter would play the audio file and you would hear it through their audio sharing as normal through zoom or teams.

Mike Calvo
Yeah, and attendee can’t do that. Now. We don’t we don’t extend the attendees’ capability. We, you know, enhance it to the point of for example, if there’s a link there, sure. It pops up in a different window, you close the window, you’re back in the present in the presentation,

Ryan Fleury
Right. Yeah. So zoom gives you the ability to share your screen and share presentations, share computer sound and many different options like that. So if I was in a Zoom meeting in I brought up the share screen, and there was a share slideshow slide presentation, what would that process be to share a presentation using scribe through zoom.

Matt Campbell
So you, you share your screen through zoom like normal, but ideally, before the meeting begins, although it could be during the meeting, if if they’re scrambling to do it last minute, the meeting host would go to Scribe For Meetings.com. And they would copy and paste in the zoom invite link. And then we would look up that URL see that it’s not registered yet and give the user the option to register the meeting with Scribe For Meetings as the host. At that point, they enter a title for the meeting. They upload their slide deck, and they’re done. They can optionally copy and paste a direct link into Scribe For Meetings. Or alternatively, the meeting attendee can also go to Scribe For Meetings .com, paste in that same invite link, and Scribe For Meetings will pull it up. The meeting host doesn’t have to do anything during the meeting, assuming they uploaded their slide deck in advance.

Ryan Fleury
Right. So it sounds like you’ve made it pretty seamless, pretty simple for anybody to be able to do.

Mike Calvo
I think the goal here is to make it that way, the goal is to make it as simple a process that is the least disruptive as possible. I have a problem when I’m that blind guy in the meeting that’s always requesting accessibility or always asking, “Where are we in the slides?” or, or whatever. And, and up to this point, it hasn’t been possible to do anything else. But that, but to me, as much as as much as we believe in an accessible world, and Matt and I both believe in building accessibility in to anything, you know, when you’re building it, instead of bolting it on. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that utopian world where everything is 100% accessible. And, you know, with with, with augmented media remediation, you’re going to find that it does what humans do. And it does it consistently. It as it learns, it does it better. And unlike humans, it doesn’t take vacation, it doesn’t retire, it doesn’t die and take its knowledge with it. It is a technology that keeps learning, and let’s be for real, it’s a repetitive task. And if we can find a way for this technology to do these repetitive tasks for us accurately, I mean, do you really care if you drive the car? Or do you care about better transportation to get where you need to go? You know, I mean, you know, I don’t care about driving a car, I just want better transportation,

Matt Campbell
Although you and I have never been able to drive?

Mike Calvo
Well, but but my point is that I don’t really feel as a blind person, that driving a car makes me equal to a sighted person driving a car being able to get somewhere the same way they do, makes me equal, let just like the same way, accessing a document at the same time. And a relatively similar manner to my sighted peers, gives me the ability to be equal to them, if maybe a little different in the approach, but not by much, but certainly much as quickly and as accurately in many cases, in most cases.

Ryan Fleury
You know, I keep thinking about where we’ve come from, in the Assistive Technology field. And, you know, I have to give you guys, you, Mike, and Matt, and other companies in the field, a lot of credit, because without the services and products that you guys are providing, we wouldn’t have the access to information that we currently do. You know, it’s, it’s easy to sit back and think, Well, you know, if, if, if Pneuma Solutions didn’t come up with Scribe, you know, maybe the industry would just get their accessibility together in a timely fashion. But, you know, over and over, we’ve seen that that’s just not reality. And so you guys are kind of bridging that gap. And in some ways, you know, kind of giving the mainstream an out to make their products as accessible. But at the same time, if you weren’t doing it, we wouldn’t have the access.

Matt Campbell
Well, the reality is that blind students being educated remotely during the pandemic, need this access now? Yeah, not when the Microsoft PowerPoint team and the Microsoft Teams team can finally coordinate and get around to doing it right. And never mind that that would only cover Teams, right? Not Zoom and other platforms. Yeah. Not not meaning not meaning to diss my former employer.

Ryan Fleury
No, not at all.

Mike Calvo
And that and that’s the thing here, right, is that I, I applaud with you, Ryan, the fact that we not only have we grown as an industry, but so many people like Matt, have gone into the mainstream and taken their knowledge there and been able to take advantage of the bigger budgets be able to take advantage of the larger Dev and research teams. What Microsoft, for example, is doing with Seeing AI is is nothing short of amazing. What would that technology have cost us 20 years ago? And for me when Matt, when Serotech wound down and and and Matt and I started working on Scribe it was it was like, Okay, here’s a new ideology we have, and we were treading water, we were gonna pitch the scribe platform and get some document remediation together and eventually, you know, and as the pandemic progressed, Matt and I said, we feel responsible to our community to develop a, you know, a solution to this problem. And Matt, started producing the solution, got a prototype, and it was so compelling that he stepped down from Microsoft and said, “I need to join this full time, so we can get it out to students, you know, before the school year starts, again in January”, and we were able to thank god meet that, that because Matt sacrificed his place at Microsoft and said, You know, I have a community calling that I need to serve better, and, and came and joined me here, and that that’s why it came about. I’m just, I’m just the ringleader, the guy who drives the circus, but he’s an actual performer. And we wouldn’t have a circus if it wasn’t, if it wasn’t for Mr. Campbell. And, and, and, and other great developers, that that, that he’s worked with and and and, and, and, you know, enjoyed sharing time with sharing ideas and that kind of thing throughout the years.

Ryan Fleury
And so if people wanted to kick the tires on Scribe and throw some documents or a PowerPoint slide presentation at it, how can they do that?

Mike Calvo
Sure, you can, you can visit the website, and the website .. now we thought it would be fun to do this to blind folks. So we called it Pneuma Solutions. But it starts with a P. So it’s a P.

Matt Campbell
Says the blind guy who can’t spell.

Mike Calvo
Thanks, Matt. It’s true. I suck at spelling, the spell checker is my best friend. Because I am that lazy blind guy that the teacher said Calvo, you need to learn the long form of the grade two. And I said, No, no, no. Time for that. So So I guys, if you have students or children, if you’re listening, or anyone learning Grade 2 Braille right now learn it, but learn the long form as well. Because if not, you’re going to really suck at spelling like I do. But anyway, that’s my Sunday spelling aside, it is Pneuma Solutions, Pneuma Solutions.com. And you can check us out there all of the different Scribe offerings in what’s going on and all that. And if you want to just check the technology directly, go to Scribeformeetings.com. Now, something real quick, Ryan to mention, as of the date of this podcast, Scribe is in beta, scribe for meetings is in beta. It works for webinars, it works for meetings. Now, once it comes out of beta, it is going to be free for webinars for any company that serves the needs of the blind, be it for profit or non for profit, internationally. So all webinars, all conferences are absolutely free, they will always be and for mainstream companies that may or may not have blind people, but just want to provide this as a service in case they have blind attendees at their webinars. It’s 99 bucks for them to do up to 10,000 people attending their, their their webinar. And then there’s a bunch of pricing for scribe for meetings for internal meetings and that kind of thing that are available on the website. But it is important to know that a it’s international but it’s free for organizations that serve the blind. And see we have pricing that we’re going to be posting for the other packages available on the on the website.

Ryan Fleury
Well, I really hope that people jump on board and take a look at this. You know, we’ll see CSUN coming up here in March. And of course, being virtual, there’s going to be I would assume many presentations that are being done using PowerPoint. So something like this would really level the playing field for us.

Mike Calvo
By the way, a big shout out to GC Canada who really helped us in developing the augmented document remediation portion of scribe, which is you know, still at the heart of much of this if it weren’t for our friends, because we’re in the states here. If it weren’t for our friends in Canada, across the border, we we would have really been challenged some in some things and they challenged us and they held us to a very high standard. They made sure that our product was multilingual. So just kind of you know Thumbs up to two to GC Canada Group up there.

Rob Mineault
Any idea how long it’s going to be in beta for?

Mike Calvo
Probably till about the end of March, we’re really learning a lot from the beta. Because, I mean, obviously we we do testing and put things kind of an a sterile, we, you know, environment and we throw some things at it. But even when we throw things at it, we still kind of know what we’re throwing at it. And then it’s that person with that weird 15 language, PowerPoint with some pictures from back in the 1960s. And the all weird thing or that the one I’m working on right now is the type of slide where the slide gradually fills in as you as you click forward. And it’s funny, because there’s a blind person I wouldn’t ever even know.

Ryan Fleury
Transitioning stuff. Yeah.

Mike Calvo
yeah. And we were taking care of all of that. So it’s not just we’re not just doing a straight, you know, conversion to HTML. And here you go. There’s a, there’s a lot of a lot of a lot of cooking that goes into that sauce back there.

Matt Campbell
We call it slide sense, because it makes sense of your slides.

Ryan Fleury
Nice. I love it.

Rob Mineault
This might be a little bit of a side topic, but I’m just curious to know what your your guys’s opinions are on this. But, you know, of course, with the pandemic and the rise of networking software, like meeting software, do you ever do you think that there’s space? Or do you think that there’s a, there’s a real appetite to develop a, from the ground up, a fully accessible meeting platform that is just it’s built to be accessible? I mean, Zoom is accessible, and it’s one of the more accessible, meaning platforms out there. But it’s still not like, you know, it wasn’t built from the ground up with accessibility in mind. Do you think that we’ll ever see something like that?

Mike Calvo
I’ve got an opinion. But I want you first.

Ryan Fleury
Well, before you guys jump in. It’s funny that Rob brought that up, because I was actually thinking that, you know, before this Serotech had accessible event.

Matt Campbell
Yeah, we’ve been there and done that. Yeah. And and, honestly, I don’t think that it’s worthwhile for us to bother with the intricacies of of things like audio codecs, and God help us video that are already covered by the mainstream platforms.

Mike Calvo
Yeah, I might, my answer was going to be an adamant Hell no, absolutely not. Under no circumstances is anyone to come up with the lunacy of coming up with a fully accessible meeting platform, because, again, it’s going to be in people get really pissed when I use this term, but it will be a blind ghetto product. And that is not what we need. What we need is integration. What we need is mainstreaming and we need to encourage these, these platforms like Zoom, to become more inclusive, to be more accessible, the standards have been set all the standards are there, all we would do if we were putting together this mythical accessible platform would be combining existing technologies that are already here, that these guys should be implementing, from, you know, from the moment that they’re released into their products. Why should I be responsible for doing that for my community that that is, you know, that they have to do it on their side, and will will will build on top of that.

So, hope I didn’t, you don’t feel attacked or anything, but No, I wouldn’t. I would never. Like Matt said, we’ve been there done that. And it is not. It is not easy. You know, what these guys are doing is not a walk in the park.

Ryan Fleury
I know. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for Pneuma you know, we saw what Serotech was able to accomplish. Let’s see what Pneuma’s got in store.

Rob Mineault
Get to work you guys.

Mike Calvo
We got to talk to the little people every once in a while. we’re only talking about Steve who’s the littlest one of the group. My goodness he’s tall. I’m serious, man. This guy’s huge. Huge huge I tell you.

Steve Barclay
I’ve lost some weight.

Unknown Speaker
No, no, I didn’t mean huge like I wouldn’t be wanting to talk about weight my friend. You know when it came to that? I’ve been on carry a few it’s all for it.

Ryan Fleury
It’s hilarious. Well, Mike, Matt, thank you so much for taking the time out of your morning. Your your holiday down in the US too. Join us to talk about

Mike Calvo
What? Holiday?

Ryan Fleury
it’s Groundhog Day.

Oh, don’t you get a day off for that Matt?

Matt Campbell
No, I mean, Groundhog Day. I just think of the movie and then or watch the movie maybe?

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, there you go. Excellent idea.

Steve Barclay
Hey, that is so cool. What a wonderful time to be alive. Right? I mean, here’s the problem. Mike and Matt, just go out there, smack it on the head, drag it in, beat it into submission, and boom, there you go. new product.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, it amazes me the development time behind this. But I mean, these guys have like real, real experience in this industry. Serotech was a really big deal for a really long time, right?

Steve Barclay
Oh, yeah. Absolutely. That Mike, Mike’s Mike’s been, you know, this, this figure in the community has been walking around, you know, throwing empowerment around, like, they’re, you have some empowerment here, you have some empowerment. And it’s great to see.

Rob Mineault
you know, I forgot the fact that they they really already sort of cut their teeth on the idea of an accessible meeting platform. I didn’t even I didn’t even think of that when asked the question. And frankly, like, I was a little surprised when when, you know, they were like, Yeah, no, not at all. But it but it totally makes sense. You know, the problem. The problem with meeting platforms, and we’re seeing this right now is just that there’s there’s kind of a battle for meeting platforms. I mean, Zoom, and Teams. I guess Skype, we’ll throw Skype in there

Ryan Fleury
Google meet is still, you know, happening as well.

Rob Mineault
Yeah. So I mean, throwing another nother platform probably isn’t the solution, the solution would be to build something that can work with any meeting platform, so it’s not going to matter what the school is using, your office is using, you’ll just be able to plug right into it. Away you go.

Ryan Fleury
Well, that’s one of the things I like about Mike and Matt. And you know, what Serotech was and did is you know, they would find find a gap in in the system and fill it, you know, we are still using their remote access software, RIM and RAM. And because it is fully accessible, I don’t think there is another utility that will give me speech, input and output when I need to connect to someone’s computer for troubleshooting other than RIM and RAM by Serotech.

Steve Barclay
Hey, you know what I something that crossed my mind is we were talking about this. You talked about the leading platforms, you know, Zoom, Teams, Skype, maybe? Whatever happened to WebEx like it’s still around?

Rob Mineault
Oh,

Steve Barclay
Monster in the industry, but nobody talks about them anymore. Yeah.

Rob Mineault
I do see them still being used. I mean, I think that they they still are popular, but I’m sure that their market share has probably really decreased since since certainly since the pandemic.

Steve Barclay
Yeah, I wonder, I wonder you heard of any, any company focusing on that market segment would probably be growing at this time. But I don’t know WebEx I just don’t, I don’t hear the same momentum.

Rob Mineault
I think with WebEx the problem with WebEx was corporate driven. They were very much like for big the big companies were using them for things like webinar platforms. And I would assume that they’re still fairly big in that space like our for, say, 100 people, that’s going to be something that you’re going to want to do on WebEx and you’re not going to really want to do on Zoom. So I think it’s maybe just a different space. The problem is is that with everybody under the sun needing some sort of of meeting platform, Zoom just you know, had the opportunity to to grow like it’s has. I love the fact that they’re they have programs called RIM and RAM. Like I don’t now … like not even not even like that, you pervert.

Those are those would be great characters in some sort of a movie like TRON

Steve Barclay
Don’t you dare edit that part out

Ryan Fleury
it all started with the Daryl Hannah sexbot.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, exactly. Everything. Everything begins at the sexbot.

Steve Barclay
Including RIM and RAM.

Rob Mineault
Right? That’s right. Oh, yeah. It’s been a it’s been a show full of revelations, everybody. Hey, Ryan,

Ryan Fleury
Rob.

Rob Mineault
Where in the world can people find us?

Ryan Fleury
That’s something I forgot to mention to everybody. We are actually now on a new podcast slash audio media platform called Verbal Check us out there as well as any other media you might be interested in. And if you want to find the podcast at our regular location, that is atbanter.com

Rob Mineault
Oh, man, you threw me right off. Wow. Wow, wait, hold on. I didn’t even I didn’t get the memo for Verbal. What’s this? Is this a new? Is this a new podcasting platform?

Ryan Fleury
It’s not just podcasts. It’s old time radio. I think there’s music it’s Yeah, new service. I got an email about early this week or late last week. checked it out. Fill up the form, AT Banter is now there

Rob Mineault
Yeah, cuz you like all that old that old time radio stuff

Steve Barclay
Yeah, I used to love that stuff. I haven’t listened to that stuff in years. I should download a crap ton of that for the car.

Ryan Fleury
Yeah, I love all that stuff.

Rob Mineault
Oh, yeah. The Shadow knows.

Steve Barclay
Hey, you know where else people can find us where? I don’t know. Oh, no, I do Hey, actually, it’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They can find us there.

Rob Mineault
Well, and hey, you know what, if they wanted to email us, they could potentially email us at cowbell@atbanter.com. You can, for example, email us your favorite 80s movie? Yes. Just a thought. Just a thought. Just pitch it if you want to hear us talk about a certain 80s movie on our big 80s show that we’re doing.

Ryan Fleury
Or your favorite dance or fashion?

Steve Barclay
Oh, yeah. Your favorite 80s fashion trend?

Ryan Fleury
Headbands. There you go. We all need to wear headbands for our video podcast.

Rob Mineault
Oh, man. I remember that Dire Straits song. Money for nothing.

Ryan Fleury
Chicks for free.

Rob Mineault
Yeah, that was a great classic.

Ryan Fleury
We got those in store microwave ovens. Custom kitchen delivery. We got the movies, refrigerators.

Steve Barclay
We do have a lot to answer for.

Rob Mineault
Its wasn’t our fault. We were high on cocaine and hairspray

Steve Barclay
And weed and also we had the best music so screw you.

Ryan Fleury
Yes.

Rob Mineault
All right. Well, you know what that is going to about do it for us this week. Thanks, everybody for listening in. Big thanks to Mike and Matt and RIM and RAM. All right. We will see everybody next week.