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The Serotek Story

 

Mike Calvo, Serotek President and CEO, formed Serotek in 2001 to develop and market FreedomBox technologies and the FreedomBox Network. Blind since birth, Mike Calvo has dedicated his life to creating solutions that level the playing field for people with disabilities. His design philosophy is modeled after the “curb cut,” the ramped access that makes it possible for people who use wheelchairs or walkers to easily move from one sidewalk to the next. Designed for the “disabled,” they have made life simpler and more convenient for all. Mike Calvo believes that every information highway on ramp and off ramp needs to be designed with an electronic curb cut, adapting the technology to human needs rather than forcing humans to adapt to limitations in the technology.

 

FreedomBox was the first “electronic curb cut” introduced by Serotek. Its Flexible User Interface (FUI) allows users to access the Internet, use e-mail, read newspapers, books, and enjoy described video, shop, search for jobs and much more, using their voice, a touch screen, a keyboard or key pad, a mouse, or an infrared sound touch (IST) switch. Content is accessible audibly using text to speech technology or on the screen, enlarged to meet the user's visual needs. Consistent with his “curb cut” approach, every Serotek product is designed to be intuitive, allowing users to become fully operational with very little training. This is in sharp contrast with most “adaptive technologies” which require extensive user training. People who have never before used a computer can use FreedomBox and the FreedomBox Network. There is a wonderful irony that for many elderly FreedomBox Network members, their first successful experience with computers occurred only after they lost their sight.

 

Since its launch in 2001, Serotek has continued to build the FreedomBox Network, a unique Internet membership community that not only delivers the most content ever assembled in one place specifically for the blind community and people with other disabilities; but also provides an interactive forum that helps this community's voice to be heard. Where in the past the disability community was often dismissed as too dispersed and too difficult to reach to be of interest as a market; FreedomBox Network both gives the community access and makes the community highly accessible.

 

Serotek has also continued to expand its family of “electronic curb cut” products adding such products as: System Access, all the screen-reader many users will ever need; Key to Freedom and Pass Key which makes FreedomBox access completely portable, essentially allowing any computer to be your FreedomBox; and C-Saw, a process by which we help each other, correcting inaccessible links on Web sites we visit making the Web even more accessible to those who follow.

 

In 2005 Serotek was awarded the prestigious da Vinci Award by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This award honors outstanding engineering achievements employing universal design principles to promote accessibility. Past winners of this award include IBM and Microsoft.


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