Hello! Bonjour! Chow! Cheers! It’s the end of the week and the beginning of a brand new month and with that said its time for the first Follow Friday (#FF) for August and I’m very excited about who I got to interview this week.

Imagine if you will, that you have accessible and affordable assistive technology at your fingertips. Most importantly, what if the products and services provided to the blind consumer could be used on multi-platforms included remote access training and was easy to use whether you are a computer novice or a techno geek? Well, those are just a few things you can expect from the Serotek Corporation.

Serotek was formed in 2001 by Mike Calvo and has been going strong ever since. The company is dedicated to creating and providing technology solutions and services to those with disabilities so that they can have the ability to use any type of electronic device of their choosing.

Fedora Outlier, LLC tips our fedora off to Serotek for enhancing and empowering the lives of others with their innovative resources and that is only one of many reasons why we here at Fedora support and follow Serotek.

Editor’s Note: For those readers who are aware of my technological impairments, I am a consumer of Serotek’s Accessibility Anywhere which is very easy to use. I am also an iBlink radio fan!

Join me as we take a look at who Serotek is and what they do.

Brie Rumery: For our readers who may not have heard of Serotek before, would you tell us a little bit about the company and what you do there?

Serotek: At Serotek, we believe accessibility is a universal right, and we work hard day in and day out to ensure our products help you get the most out of any computer. Our solutions are more affordable, convenient and easy-to-use than those offered by the typical competition. We offer the System Access Screen Reader, the System Access Mobile Network, as well as DocuScanPlus and the iBlink radio app for iPhone and Android.

BR: Where did the name Serotek come from?

Serotek: The word Sero has its roots in several languages, including Latin and Spanish, and means Connect. Serotek is all about that connected technology. We offer technologies that help a person keep in touch with friends, family, and coworkers – whether they live next door or around the world.

BR: What type of services and products are available from Serotek?

Serotek: It’s difficult to summarize in writing all that we offer, so if one of your readers is interested in gaining more information, we welcome those phone calls. We have prices and configurations of single or multiple products that can work for nearly any budget. System Access speaks aloud what is on the screen. The beauty of the product is that it provides the features used by most people, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional screen readers. All updates to System Access are free to our customers. After all, who wants to be concerned with update costs and deadlines?
System Access Mobile Network, or SAMNet, is a collection of services. Picture it as a huge, accessible swimming pool. So if you’re coming down the ramp and starting out by getting a toe wet, or if you’re entering by way of the high dive, you’re bound to find lots to enjoy. Most notably, we recently updated the SAMNet Socializer. Now, access to Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and messaging services is easier than ever.
DocuScanPlus allows you to read printed material or convert inaccessible PDF files, and is available on both Windows and Mac platforms. And once you’ve scanned a document, you can easily save it in multiple formats or read it on your mobile device.
iBlink radio on the iPhone allows easy access to SAMNet. On both iOS and Android, you can listen to content from your local radio reading service, browse podcasts, and play various radio stations sponsored by the blind community. iBlink Radio also has a list of all the content from the SeroTalk Podcast Network. Just in the last month, we produced five specials from the exhibit halls of ACB and NFB, and released a training audio about how to use the new SAMNet Socializer. We also covered AT Trainers from NFB, and a very comprehensive presentation by HIMS. And of course, all our other podcasts are available as well.
All our products have numerous features, so we are just scratching the surface, and giving an overview of what we offer.

BR: What unique differences does Serotek have from other assistive technology companies?

Serotek: Serotek distinguishes itself in several ways. Some of these include:
We feature courteous, knowledgeable, American-based customer and technical support.
We openly challenge the traditional assistive technology industry to beat our prices and scope of innovative products.
Cross-platform accessibility is an ongoing commitment, not an overlooked concept.
People who use Serotek products have the distinct advantage of our remote training and support.
Finally, as a company predominantly run by blind staff, we are active consumers of our own products.

BR: What is SAMNet and why is it so popular to your consumers?

Serotek: SAMNet really embodies the connected technology we spoke about earlier. There are sites for chatting, and sites where you can download podcasts. There are places you can discuss a variety of topics, and programs you can use to follow social media. The beauty of SAMNet is that it brings all that together, and so much more. The interface is consistent, so the same way you navigate through your email is the same basic way you set up a custom website, post a voice or text message to other SAMNet users, and keep in touch with family and friends on Facebook. All kinds of people use SAMNet. Some of our members are blind veterans, and others have multiple disabilities. We have students, busy stay-at-home moms, people monitoring SAMNet while commuting to work, and seniors. Some have been blind all their lives, while others who are newly blind learn about valuable resources on SAMNet.
In addition, we often see new community members who start out being terrified by technology, and they aren’t very confident about their ability to master the computer and all the software that goes with it. As these people are welcomed by the community, and as they discover that using a computer need not be an exercise in frustration, they become much more confident. Best of all, they eventually reach a point where they can impart their knowledge to others who are just starting out.

BR: How has the CEO of Serotek, Mike Calvo’s, vision) of accessible and affordable assistive technology enhanced the lives of the blindness community?

Serotek: Every week, we hear stories from people whose lives have been changed:
“I just graduated from college, and I couldn’t have done it without System Access.”
“I live across the country from my grandchildren, but now I use Facebook with the Socializer to keep up with their activities.”
“I can’t use my hands well, but I can use SAMNet to send voice emails.”
“After I lost my sight, someone from the state came and taught me how to cook. I was still at a disadvantage though. I have a large collection of recipe books I could no longer use. Thanks to DocuScanPlus, I’m making family favorites again. In a month, my son will be coming home from Afghanistan, and I’ve already got the recipe for his favorite chocolate cake saved in DocuScanPlus.”

In short, Mike Calvo began the company with a vision that blind people deserved to access the computer as easily and affordably as their sighted counterparts. Computers weren’t just for those who had jobs, or those who had great technical expertise. They were for everyone. The company has grown, and each new addition to the company feels just as passionately as Mr. Calvo himself that the power of technology belongs in the hands of everyone, not just a chosen few.

BR: Why is it important for Serotek to use Twitter as one of their social networking platforms?

Serotek: Quite simply, it’s important because that’s where our customers are. We want to hear what you’re thinking, and knowing what struggles you face with the technology as you use it in your personal lives. After all, there would be very little point to all this connected tech if we did not use it to bridge the gaps between companies and individuals — working together for change to truly make the concept of Accessibility Anywhere a reality.

I want to thank Serotek for granting me the privilege of interviewing them for #FF. If you would like to find out more about Serotek and the products and services that are available then please visit them at http://www.serotek.com. Stay up-to-date with what is going on with Serotek by following @serotek on Twitter.

If you enjoyed learning about Serotek then you might want to join Fedora Outlier’s weekly AccessChat on Tuesday evenings at 8:00 PM EST where you have the opportunity to interact via Twitter with brands, organizations and individuals that are making a difference within the blindness and blind-deaf communities.