Podsafe for Peace Issues, the thread that doesn't die, etc...

  • From: "Darrell Shandrow" <nu7i@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcasting@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 07:07:53 -0700

Hi all,

I know Jeff asked for the end of this thread a couple of days ago, yet I just 
can't allow the ongoing condemnations and misunderstandings of me and all I am 
trying to accomplish to go on and on unchallenged.  Though I am sure most of 
you have decided you're not interested, I am nevertheless going to lay out all 
the facts as I understand them, then explain the rationale behind my making 
such an issue of the accessibility problems surrounding Podsafe for Peace for 
what it is or is not worth to most of you whom seem to have already made up 
your minds.

Podsafe for Peace is a We Are the World type benefit by podcasters featuring a 
lot of Podsafe musicians getting together to sing and disseminate a song 
written and composed originally by Jerry Halatyn and another person.  The 
project is endorsed by Adam Curry and Podshow.  The song is available on the 
Podsafe Music Network (which remains inaccessible to the blind) as well as for 
PayPal purchase on a web site that does happen to be accessible.  Blindcasters 
may send e-mail directly to Slau for a copy of the track to be played on their 
podcast.  Proceeds from the purchase of this song are going to UNICEF, though 
this project is, in no way shape or form, officially endorsed by the charity.

On the morning of Sunday, December 4, Jeff Bishop created a fair way to make 
the Podsafe for Peace track directly and immediately available to blindcasters 
for download from his web site after providing their name and e-mail addresses 
for reporting purposes.  A reasonable effort was made to insure the track could 
not be downloaded without completing the form, and language was clearly 
included concerning the need to report all podplay to music@xxxxxxxxxxxx  The 
system was set up to work around the current inaccessibility of the Podsafe 
Music Network both for registration (due to inaccessible visual verification) 
and overall use as we are currently not able to add songs to our playlists once 
we do manage to get manually registered.  More than 60 blind people downloaded 
the song from using this system.  Some were podcasters, while others were not.  

On Sunday night, Slau was featured on Marlaina's show on ACB Radio.  I called 
in to thank Jeff Bishop for his efforts to make this project equally accessible 
to the blind.  I was under the mistaken impression that, despite the 
inaccessibility of PMN, the blind would, in fact, be permitted full and equal 
participation in this fun, benefitial project.  Sadly, I was to learn in a 
hurry that my optimism would be quite short lived.

Only a few hours after implementation of this accessible work around, pressure 
was applied by Slau to require PMN registration despite its current 
inaccessibility.  Even after that change was made, additional pressure was 
applied to make other changes, such as a request to add a prompt for the 
downloader's podcast feed.  Within only a couple of days, Jeff simply removed 
the accessibility to the track from his web site altogether.  As is usually the 
case, the needs and wants of all others trumped our need for equal 
accessibility and full participation.  
Slau is a blind musician who relies on assistive technology such as screen 
reading software in order to do his job and enjoy the technological part of his 
life.  It is quite reasonable to expect that a blind brother would do 
everything possible to insure a project he leads is made accessible to the 
blind.  Certainly, it is quite disappointing and unexpected for such a person 
to take steps to thwart a fairly implemented accessibility work around due to 
one or two potential concerns that did not even actually come to fruition!
On the Blind Access Journal blog and podcast, as well as the blindcasting 
mailing list, I called Slau out on the carpet for his errors with respect to 
failing to take care of the accessibility needs of his blind brothers and 
sisters.  A few days of controversy persisted, largely confined to the blind 
community, before starting to die down.

On the evening of Saturday, December 10, while checking my e-mail after a great 
day visiting with the Bishop family, I read a private e-mail from Slau telling 
me how hurt and insulted he was that I displayed my disappointment in him.  I 
sent him a private response.  On Sunday morning, December 11, Slau 
inappropriately decided to make our private correspondence extremely public by 
sending it not only to the blindcasting list, but also directly to Adam Curry, 
C.C. Chapman, Marlaina and Jeff!  This improper action added fuel to an 
otherwise dying fire and served to take the controversy far outside our blind 

This is where we stand now.  Podsafe for Peace is accessible to blindcasters 
either by way of an e-mail to Slau or by purchase from the podsafeforpeace.org 
web site.  In all fairness to Slau, he is reasonably prompt in his response by 
blindcasters, providing a link to the song within approximately 90 minutes of 
my request.  This remains far from the equal access Jeff provided, or which 
would be provided had only the developers of PMN appropriately considered the 
need for accessibility during the design and implementation of that service!  A 
task a sighted person is able to accomplish within five minutes required more 
than 90 minutes for a blind person to be permitted the same result.
Most of the blind community is squarely opposed to me and all for which I 
stand.  I am apparently "militant" and unwilling to work cooperatively with 
others to achieve accessibility.  The blind community will prop up any blind 
person who accomplishes something, even if that person failed to appropriately 
consider the needs of his own blind brothers and sisters!  The community will 
also quickly and easily slam anyone (over a single controversy) who is working 
very hard to look out for their accessibility needs without doing their 
research and having all their facts straight!
  For the record, some may consider portions of my accessibility evangelism to 
be "militant".  I prefer to think of it as insistent.  Of course, most of my 
work is actually quite conciliatory and diplomatic, working to raise awareness 
of assistive technology and accessibility, asking the mainstream technology 
industry to consider our needs for accessibility and rationally explaining the 
human rights aspect of insuring that the blind aren't simply left out in the 
cold while technology advances without us, thus threatening to destroy our 
ability to learn, work and enjoy leisure activities.  From this controversy, I 
have learned a couple of critical lessons.  First, keep in mind that your 
private communications can be made public at any time and in the most 
inopportune manner possible.  Second, the blind community is mostly made up of 
clueless, immature, selfish, sheltered, ungrateful people, living in their own 
little fantasy worlds,  willing to attack, at a moment's notice,  anything they 
do not immediately understand!
Merry Christmas my blind brothers and sisters.  Have a nice life in your 
shrinking, increasingly inaccessible world!

Darrell Shandrow - Shandrow Communications!
Technology consultant/instructor, network/systems administrator!
A+, CSSA, Network+!
Check out high quality telecommunications services at http://ld.net/?nu7i 
Information should be accessible to us without need of translation by another 
Blind Access Journal blog and podcast: http://www.blindaccessjournal.com

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