Biography of Mike Calvo

Mike Calvo has been blind since birth. As a teenager he began work as a DJ in local clubs and on the radio in Miami and that led to an interest in getting more involved in music. He opened a recording studio at the age of 18 after selling his mobile DJ and artist booking agency business. He then began remixing dance music tracks for many well known recording artists in both the English and Spanish music markets.

At the age of 21 Mike got married and decided that the music life was not the kind of life he wanted for him and his family so he got a job at a bank in collections with the help of a local agency for the blind. After being at the bank for several months he asked what his opportunities were for future growth in the bank. His supervisor laughed and said that they "didn't know what to do with you people" and explained to Mike that his job had been set up by a person in another part of the state that took 6 to 9 months to contact to set up a job placement. The supervisor made Mike understand that short of an act of God he would be stuck in his current job for years to come with no hope of advancement. This angered Mike because coming from a world where he owned his own business he was never exposed to these types of limitations.

He contacted the man who had set up his computer at the bank and explained the situation to him. The man told Mike that if he ever wanted to be equal to any other employee in a job setting he needed to learn that computer like the palm of his hand. This man spent hours of his time instructing Mike and giving him direction and later was almost single handedly responsible for helping Mike land a job as a trainer and job placement tech for the state of Florida as a contractor.

Mike took the man's advice and dove in to learning the computer and less than 1 year later Mike opened United Computer Consultants a company dedicated to developing and training blind people and employers to create jobs with define paths for advancement for the disabled with the use of computer technology.

Shortly after opening his computer company and a store that sold beepers, computers, and home automation products, Mike left the bank and proceeded to place and train over 400 blind people in jobs not only in Florida but in several other states and also the federal level, from 1990 to 1995. Mike's life then returned back to the music and for the next couple of years he went back to his first love the studio.

In 1997 Mike began playing with the internet and using the computer to produce music. His love of music and audio sent him on a quest for hard to find audio on the net. He then open InHouse Radio Networks in 1999 with his best friend since highschool and they released a product called the Radio Webcaster that allowed a person to hear audio from the internet on any FM radio in the home. The product sold well and was haled as a great new product for the new millennium by CNN and ZD Net.

Barcode Label Design Software Solutions As Mike got more and more involved with the online community he realized that the computer was not a "want to have" but a "got to have" for the disabled. The problem was how was a person that was home bound and not looking for a job going to buy a system that cost over $3000 and required hours and hours of training to learn. These systems were only purchased for disabled people that were looking for jobs. Even though His product the Radio Webcaster was not a product for the disabled it was mostly purchased by disabled computer users that found it difficult to navigate complex web sites to find the audio treasures berried inside. After talking to many of these people he realized that unless someone came up with a way to provide computer access to the disabled for independent daily living they were going to get left behind in the new emerging digital world.

In early 2000 InHouse Radio Networks began work on a product to be known as the FreedomBox. This product would allow a disabled person that had never before been able to use the net to send email, chat, hear news, audio books magazines and thousands of radio stations, hundreds of radio reading services, shop online, play online games, take classes, look for jobs, bank and pay bills, even scan printed material all with a product costing under $1000. This product would be controlled by voice or a small keypad and would access services similar to services provided by online service providers but the FreedomBox service would be totally dedicated to the disabled market.

Mike believes that the reason the disabled don't have more products and services made for them is because there has never been a way to market products and services directly to the over 58 million Americans that require adaptive technology to access information online.

The internet is all about special interests and communities of people that share a common pleasure or goal. Mike's dream is to create a community of disabled consumers that can work with product and service providers to educate them to the needs of the community and in return the community of course will buy these products and services.

Mike feels that when product and service providers see just how big this community really is that they will be inclined to provide products that will more serve the needs of this community not because laws like the ADA say so but because they want that consumer's business. "After all the internet is about bringing products and services to your door, and we need that as disabled consumers." Mike said "I can't do it alone! The days of depending on advocate groups to get your point across are over. On the internet every individual has a voice and it should be the goal of each disabled person to have his or her voice heard not as only a member of the disabled community but as a person That even though we do things a bit differently we also have meaningful and productive lives!"

Read Mike's personal testimony.


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