We all know him as a trainer, an innovator, and an all-around great guy. Dan Clark has touched the lives of Freedom Scientific software users around the world with his comprehensive training methods and distinct voice.
After nearly 25 years with Vispero, Dan is retiring. This post highlights a few of his contributions and honors his dedication to making lives better.
Dan joined Henter-Joyce as the Sales Manager in 1995, and has seen many changes in the company that would become Freedom Scientific, and now Vispero. Prior to that, he ran his own company, Sooner Software and Consulting, where he sold various blindness and low vision products, and was an authorized dealer for HJ, Arkenstone, and other notable companies. His vast product knowledge and strong commitment to accessibility led to many successful initiatives that are still in place today.
The Sales Database
When Dan began his role as Sales Manager, three-part carbonless paper was used to take orders. At that time, the Henter-Joyce staff only had three employees who were blind. One of those staff members also worked in sales, and had no way of accessing the paper trail of sales forms.
Recognizing the need for an accessible tracking system, Dan created a database using the Automated Contact Tracking (ACT) database, a commercially available product that was compatible with JAWS. The sales team entered serial numbers, notes, and other sales-related data that could be referenced by all employees. ACT became a widely-used database, and JAWS scripts were subsequently developed to provide even greater accessibility.
Then, Dan needed to address how JAWS users could listen to speech output while accessing the database on a call. The solution was a headset that was engineered to provide audio from a call in one ear and audio from JAWS in the other. At that time, these headsets were much harder to come by than they are today.
Increasing Employment Opportunities
Once the sales database was in place, Dan began recruiting additional employees who were blind to the sales team. His process was to hire two employees at a time, then train them on using the database. As sales increased, so did the number of Henter-Joyce employees who were blind.
Because these staff members were on Social Security Disability (SSDI), the amount of time they could work was limited. Dan advocated for competitive full-time salaries, a sentiment that was unanimously echoed by everyone in the organization. This eliminated the need for these employees to continue receiving SSDI, and is another great example of Dan’s passion for creating equal opportunities that put people first.
These opportunities have not gone unnoticed. Bill Kilroy, a Sr. Sales Director for Vispero, describes Dan as someone who is willing to openly share his wisdom to ensure a project’s success. “Personally, I think Dan embodies the perfect Vispero colleague. He’s competent beyond measure and possesses an easy-going demeanor that provides a great customer experience.”
Dan has also developed many training initiatives over the years. The release of JAWS 6.0 in 2005 included the FSReader demo and edition of the JAWS Basic Training in DAISY format.
In 2009, Dan began hosting live webinars through a service called Talking Communities. The first webinar, held on January 19, covered JAWS and MAGic Reading Commands and Cursors used by JAWS.
The online JAWS certification exam was implemented in 2010. It provided a way for JAWS users to test their knowledge of this robust screen reader.
Ryan Jones, a Project Manager for The Paciello Group, worked in training alongside Dan for several years. He said Dan understands how to use the computer as a blind person would better than any sighted individual he has ever known. “I strongly believe this, along with his never-ending patience, is what makes him such a wonderful teacher.”
These are just a few examples of contributions that provide immeasurable benefits for those who are blind and visually impaired. Thank you, Dan, for your positive impact and indelible stamp on assistive technology that continues to change lives worldwide.
In the words of Vispero’s Kathy Austin, Global Vice President of Human Resources, “I truly understand why people refer to you as the ‘go-to guy’.” Enjoy your retirement knowing you truly have made a difference.
Want to hear from the man himself? Check out the August 2020 episode of FSCast for Glen Gordon’s interview with Dan.