I just left a “cold call” message on the intake line of www.disability411.com. We’ll see if it generates any response. Beth Jinkle, as her domain name implies, is trying to establish a clearinghouse of disability information. She is mainly focusing on educational aspects like most everybody else. Ironically, Beth is less than 10 miles from me. The world is indeed small.
One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to gain recognition and business within the rehabilitation community is the lack of response that is the apparent norm. To be fair, that non-response is not likely to be merely apathy. Rather, members of the community seem so busy with their day-to-day work that new ideas originating from outside the established channels simply aren’t noticed. Perhaps the perception is that the “professionals” know exactly what disabled users need. Readers of this blog, however, know that isn’t always the case. The AAC options available ten years ago were a disaster in non-rehab environments. If you are in the corporate world with a speech impairment, the ability to clearly express yourself articulately and fairly quickly is worth more than oil. I recently did another survey, and things really haven’t changed much. I find that very difficult to believe given the “hire the disabled” mantra. Yet, it’s true. Either the voice output is too poor-quality for strangers to understand, or the user interface limits the ability to use whatever words you need. That sort of thing really hurts AAC out in the “real world.” That’s why I had to write Xpress-It, to interact with the world and my bosses at Shell.
I’m still trying to figure out how to get my better mousetrap noticed by the rehab community. It’s not intended for everyone, but it is definitely intended to get its users out into the world.