FSCast #226

February,  2023

GLEN GORDON:  On FSCast 226, we’ll get to know longtime JAWS beta tester, self-proclaimed language nerd, and software developer Andre Polykanine.  Then Andre will serve as translator for a visit with Sasha Hordiiko and Igor Kushnir of the Ukrainian Association of the Blind.  We’ll hear about their work and find out what life has been like since the beginning of the war.

Hello, everybody.  Glen Gordon welcoming you to our podcast for February of 2023.  Over the years lots of people have tried to create open source braille translation engines.  But the one that really caught on is called Liblouis.  It’s the basis of the American Printing House for the Blind’s Braille Blaster Program.  It’s used by libraries and other braille production houses around the world to generate braille.  And in fact we use it in JAWS as our primary braille translation engine.

Liblouis was originally written by John Boyer.  He died last month at the age of 86, but was continuing to make Liblouis contributions up until a couple of weeks before his death.  He was quite the technologist, someone who was deaf-blind for the majority of his life, born in 1936, and started programming in the mid-1960s, before accessibility was very much of a thing.  But early on he realized that access to STEM materials was key to those of us who were blind.  And he worked throughout his life to make that possible.  Liblouis, certainly the most well-known of his creations, but certainly not the only thing that John Boyer did throughout his 86 years.

If you are traveling in March, perhaps you are going to the CSUN Conference in Los Angeles, this year March 13th through the 17th.  Vispero will be there in force.  Our booths are in the Marquis Ballroom, Booth No. 503.  We’re putting on lots of presentations, as we usually do, in the Platinum Ballroom, Platinum 5 and 6.  For more details about what and where we’ll be doing at CSUN, I think the quickest way of getting there is by going to freedomscientific.com/events, and then from there you’ll find the CSUN 2023 Conference.  You can click on that, get a list of all of our presentations, information about the specifics of our ballroom location, et cetera.  So if you’re there, definitely come see us.  We look forward to seeing you.

This podcast came out just about a week after we released the February updates of JAWS, ZoomText, and Fusion.  Of particular interest to you, if you’re using our notification history feature, is the ability to reorder rules.  Once you bring up the list of notification rules, find one you want to move, hold down SHIFT and CTRL, and then use UP or DOWN ARROW to move that rule either earlier or later in the list.  That and a variety of other fixes and incremental improvements available in all three of our products.  Most likely you will be offered the update automatically, and all you need to do is say yes, install it.  By all means do that.  Things generally get better with each update.  If you’ve turned automatic updates off for some reason, you can go to freedomscientific.com/downloads and download it manually.

JAWS Power Tip

GLEN:  Time now for this month’s Power Tip.  And because language will loosely be involved in my conversation with Andre, I thought talking about JAWS automatic language detection would make sense now.  Many of you may already know that JAWS by default looks at the markup in documents or web pages to determine what language text was written in, and if you happen to have the synthesizer with that voice installed will automatically switch when encountering text in a particular language.  So when this works, this is great.  So you don’t get the English Eloquence voice reading Spanish with an accent that is only slightly better than mine.  But if you only speak a single language, or you are unlucky enough to get email or other documents that are not marked up properly, this feature may actually be tripping you up.

I had it on by default for the longest time, even though I’m a single language speaker.  And very often I would get email from someone in another country.  Even though the text was in English, it would be marked up as if it was in the native language of the person who sent it to me.  So I’d get a message from someone in France, written in English, but speaking with a French voice.  Which is still very hard to figure out.

So if you were in such a predicament, or you’re only a single-language speaker and so automatic detection of languages doesn’t really make sense, you can rectify this by going into Settings Center with JAWS Key+6 on the number row.  Then press CTRL+SHIFT+D to get to the default settings.  Search for “detect language.”  And when you find that option, hit SPACE until you hear “off,” and then press ENTER, either once or twice, however many times it takes to close Settings Center, and the new setting will take effect.  Not something that everyone will need, but something that may come in handy if you suddenly discover your synthesizer is speaking a language you don’t expect. 

More Power Tips in months to come.  I do want to mention that ideally the Power Tips that we’re most apt to use are those that are related specifically to one of our products.  I have a bunch of Power Tips now sitting in the queue that have to do with Windows, or another app in Windows.  And they’re great ideas.  Do not get me wrong.  They’re just not exactly what we want to do most of the time with Power Tips.  So if there’s a feature of one of our products that you really find valuable, do send it in to fscast@vispero.com, fscast@vispero.com.  And if we use it, we’ll add a year onto your JAWS, ZoomText, or Fusion license.

Interview with Andre Polykanine

GLEN:  Joining me now is Andre Polykanine.  I have had email interactions with him over the last three or four years as part of our JAWS beta team.  But we’ve never really had the opportunity to sit down and talk.  And I figured as long as we were going to talk, he’s an interesting guy, let’s talk on FSCast.  Andre, welcome.

ANDRE POLYKANINE:  Thanks for having me.  It’s an honor to me to be here.

GLEN:  Well, thank you.  It goes both ways.  You were born in Russia; correct?

ANDRE:  Yes.  To be very precise, in the USSR; but, yeah, yeah, in Russia.

GLEN:  What was it like growing up, just as a citizen of USSR, and then blindness on top of it?

ANDRE:  I was lucky enough, I would say, to have been born in the capital, basically, because we had a school, like a good school at those times.  We had teachers both sighted and blind, by the way.  For example, our history teacher was blind.  Our math teacher was blind.  That also contributed to a vision of how a blind person should be, probably.  I’ll just put it like that.

GLEN:  So it gave you an idea that blind people could actually be successful. 

ANDRE:  Yes.  And also I had some opportunities to meet with sighted people, which was not common among my blind classmates, I would say, because that school is – it’s like a school where you live, where you stay for nights and even sometimes for weeks.  So I didn’t stay at school.  My parents were taking me home like every day.  And also I had additional stuff to do like music or French language later.

GLEN:  So was this a sign of your parents’ foresight, that they knew you needed to be more integrated into the world?

ANDRE:  Yes.  Yes, definitely.  They are good people, my parents.  And my father, he was always like talking to me since, I don’t know, I was four.  And he’s like, look, you need to be better than the sighted people.  That’s, I know it’s probably harsh.  Now it sounds politically incorrect, probably.  But at those times he put it like that.  You need to be better.  You need to know more.  You need to work harder.  Because otherwise they will just either ignore you, like go off, go away blind person.  Or they just will have pity, and that is just not beneficial.

GLEN:  I actually think – and for those of you who are listening, please write to me if you feel differently – that a lot of people who are blind feel this way, not because it is right, but because we realize the pragmatic nature of needing to be better than somebody else in order to succeed and to have people consider our blindness as being fine because we bring enough else to the table.  So I have no idea if it’s true, but I feel like it’s more common than you think.

ANDRE:  Probably.  And speaking, my parents, they’ve never met a blind person in their lives.  And suddenly, all of a sudden they had a blind son.  That was shocking first.  But then when they realized I am like a normal person, just I don’t see, that’s the only thing, that I think I feel that is just reassuring for them.  That was reassuring for them.

GLEN:  And this was when?  1990s?

ANDRE:  1980s.

GLEN:  Okay.  And did you ever go to school with sighted students?  Or were you all the way through primary school at a blind school?

ANDRE:  Yeah, it was blind school.  But I went to – we had a notion of musical school.  So basically you have your instrument.  I had piano.  I had what is called solfeggio, so basically musical theory, musical grammar, musical literature, musical history, and so on and so forth.  That was totally with sighted people, with sighted students.

GLEN:  When did you learn English in all of this?

ANDRE:  My first lessons, English lessons were when I was four, basically.  We learned the Latin alphabet, the English alphabet.  And they had, like, cards with letters drawn on them.  And they just raised, for example, the teacher asked what letter is this, and what letter is that.  You have to show her the card with the corresponding letter.  I said, sorry I can’t do that.  I cannot see.  How should we do it?  And she said, look, if someone cuts the letters for you, made of paper, like, or cardboard, that would go, and that was done.  And that went very well.  And even people, like other kids, they were curious first.  But come on, that’s four or five years.  Like no discrimination at this age.

GLEN:  Yes.

ANDRE:  And then just no one paid attention, like I show drawn letters.  You show the paper letters.  That’s okay.

GLEN:  But there’s learning English, and there’s learning English.  When did you learn conversational English?

ANDRE:  I would say very late.  In school I had my first meetings with people from the United States.  And people, I heard how people from the United States spoke, how smiling they were, how positive they were.  And I said, hmm, that’s how I should speak.  That’s how I should learn English.  That is the English I should learn.  I’m sorry, other parts of the world, but that was my take on that.  At this age I was teenager.

GLEN:  But what was the occasion of you interacting with people from the U.S.?

ANDRE:  The Soviet Union dissolved, and there were people coming to post-Soviet countries, especially to Russia, for humanitarian purposes.  And especially there were like Christian people from the United States, like Mormons and other people.  They told us about Bible and about Jesus.  Of course I know all this stuff, like from earlier age because my mother is a very religious woman.  But she’s Orthodox.  But anyway, it’s the same.  The scriptures are the same.

GLEN:  Did you also benefit from listening to, like, Voice of America or other U.S. shortwave things?  Because that’s how Oleg Shevkun said that his English got to be so good because he was listening to all this radio.

ANDRE:  Yeah, I listened to those stations also, these radio stations also.  But I didn’t put enough time in it, unfortunately, to learn proper English.  So my English was very, like schoolboy English, I would say.  I tried to mimic the – because we had people who went to the United States for a year.  And that is a very, very sad page in my story because I just didn’t go, and I still regret it so much.

GLEN:  Did you have the option and decide not to?

ANDRE:  I’m not very mobile, unfortunately.  And I’m still not very mobile.  So basically going, moving alone is not – I won’t say it’s not a thing for me, but it’s a very tough thing for me.

GLEN:  You’re not mobile because there are physical issues?  Or you never really were given the tools to be mobile?

ANDRE:  The latter.  I’ve never given the proper training with a cane, with a white cane and so on, so forth.

GLEN:  Yeah.

ANDRE:  That is still on my list.  I will work on it.  I’m pretty sure I will succeed in it sooner or later.  Better sooner.

GLEN:  What about university for you?

ANDRE:  That was a very tough, a very tough question to me, where to go, because I wanted to do something with computers, with basically technology.  And I had no chance at those times because all the math stuff, that was super inaccessible.  Now it is accessible, I know.  People read and write tech, you know, TEX format.

GLEN:  Right.

ANDRE:  Now, in my time it was not current, at least, or I didn’t know about that, but it was not current.  So no math for me.  And I thought, okay, I will first go for languages.  I will go to a language university, language studies, linguistic and translation.  And then I will decide what to do.

GLEN:  How did you deal with things like IPA, which is a whole different extended character set?  Or did you?

ANDRE:  First of all, I love phonetics.  I’m just obsessed by phonetics, by phonetic differences.  And I hear how I speak English, it shouldn’t be like that.  I’m really sorry about that.

GLEN:  Your English is phenomenal. 

ANDRE:  Oh, thank you.  Thank you.  But I know my pet peeves and my weak points because I’m obsessed with phonetics, again.  So what I did, I put empty brackets, and I put the letters that looked like normal letters, like for example P as a P, T as a T, and so on, so forth.  Like the French closed A is an E, an English E, for example.  And then I asked my mother to insert missing, by hand, to insert missing characters.  I described it to her, and that was just – yeah.  That was just insane.

GLEN:  Because this was before Windows, and you could really use the extended character set and things; right?

ANDRE:  I probably could use extended character set.  But I couldn’t figure out how to read them properly with my TTS.

GLEN:  Ah.

ANDRE:  Yeah, yeah.  Now I know how to do that.  I have TTS that can do that.  But at those times, no.  Only those things, those very prehistorical ways of communication.

GLEN:  So what did you do with your degree in linguistics?

ANDRE:  I worked as a translator first, like freelancer.  I had some contract work.  I worked even at my university.  I did some professor work.  And then I started working at Elita Group.  That was the blend between translation and computing and technology.

GLEN:  How did I miss that you worked at Elita?  Because they of course have been our Russian dealer for a long time.

ANDRE:  I don’t know.  How do you miss – like eight years, almost eight years, seven and something, like almost eight years I’ve been working – I have been working at Elita.  I don’t know how you missed that.

GLEN:  Well, I’m not always observant.

ANDRE:  Ah, okay.

GLEN:  When did you start using JAWS?  I assume when you were at Elita, but maybe I’m wrong.

ANDRE:  No, no.  You’re wrong because I started using JAWS in 1998.

GLEN:  And what was your life at that point?

ANDRE:  It was my late school years, I would say.

GLEN:  Did that change how you did your studies?

ANDRE:  Of course.  I mean, without JAWS – there are two big companies I’m always grateful to.  I mean, really, really grateful.  It’s Microsoft and Vispero.  Why?  Because without Microsoft products, without Windows, without Office, and without JAWS, maybe I would have succeeded.  I don’t know.  But probably not. 

GLEN:  I probably asked the question wrong.  I think my real question is how did it change the way you did your studies? 

ANDRE:  Ah, yeah.  So first, of course, it’s multilingual environment.  I have different speech engines for different languages.  That is one point.  The other point is the snappiness.  So I have, of course, like many blind people, speed cranked up at a decent level.  And Windows of course, connection, again connection to the sighted people because sighted people also use Windows, I use Windows, no difference.

GLEN:  Are there tools that are accessible that help people when learning languages?

ANDRE:  Yeah.  For me it’s first – first it’s dictionary.  There is a multilingual dictionary called Lingvo.  Like Lingvo like in  Esperanto with a V. 

GLEN:  Okay.

ANDRE:  The company’s called Abbyy, A B B Y Y. 

GLEN:  Oh, the FineReader, yeah.

ANDRE:  The FineReader, yes, exactly, yeah, yeah, the same one.  So they do also Lingvo.  And this is a very powerful dictionary.  They’re a very powerful tool.  Unfortunately, the last version is not accessible.  But the penultimate version is.  And that’s what I’m using still now.

GLEN:  Because there apparently are all these tools now that people can subscribe to, and you can learn a language, and it’s an iPhone app or an Android app. 

ANDRE:  That exists.  I recommend Duolingo.  That is available both for computer, for PC and for mobile, like iOS and Android.  They sometimes break accessibility, sometimes fix accessibility.  It’s like, well, for all products, you know, it’s like today it’s accessible, tomorrow it’s less accessible.  After tomorrow it’s more accessible and so on, so forth.  But in general it’s both accessible and worth to invest time and even money, I think.

GLEN:  And it helps you learn.

ANDRE:  Yeah, it helps me very much, yes, yes.

GLEN:  What finally prompted you to say you were ready to do technology?  Or was it just sort of the fact that technology became more accessible?

ANDRE:  Both.  But first of all it’s my wife.  My wife is a software developer, system architect by education.  But she worked as a software developer, and I was very interested in databases and software development and patterns like design patterns and so on, so forth.  And she just started teaching me.  She’s like, okay, you are interested.  Just let’s do it.  Just a project, a database, plan some tables, what will you do here and what will you do there.  How will you do this and solve this task and so on, so forth.  Like, you know, but it’s more a relaxed way.  It’s like in university, but very much more relaxed because it’s in the family.  And then we started to do freelance projects for the web because she had no experience with PHP before, and me neither, so we started learning PHP together.  And that’s how it got better and better.

GLEN:  And this was when?

ANDRE:  Our most successful pet project lasted from 2008 to 2014-15, something like that. 

GLEN:  So this is also after you moved to Ukraine.

ANDRE:  Yes.  Yes.  That is after I moved to Ukraine.  I moved to Ukraine in 2008. 

GLEN:  And what was the occasion of that?

ANDRE:  Well, I always wanted to move.  That’s the first reason.  The second reason, I have Ukraine roots.  And the language, I understood it like all my life.  But I never studied it correctly.  And then I decided to go to Ukraine because also my wife is Ukrainian.  So I had a braille display already at this time.  And I started reading to her news out loud in Ukrainian.  She corrected me.  So for me it’s both innate and studied.

GLEN:  Did you feel a sense of connection with these roots that probably weren’t developed a lot until you moved there?

ANDRE:  When we moved it was the Independence Day, August the 24th.  So the city was celebrating.  I went to the city, and I just thought, I’m home.  That is my home.  I never heard nostalgia before.  Only now, like in Germany, I experience what nostalgia is, actually.

GLEN:  Wow.

ANDRE:  I even used to not understand people who have nostalgia.  What’s that?  What’s the feeling?  I didn’t know what is it.  And after moving from Ukraine, out of Ukraine, I felt this wholeheartedly.

GLEN:  How did it happen that you got your first programming job?

ANDRE:  That was quite recently.  At Elita I used to do some programming, but it was not my main focus of course because I did localization management, internationalization, localization.  But, you know, when you do this, you have to write some scripts, some utilities, some helpful things for yourself and for your colleagues eventually.  And then I thought, okay, I wish I had a real programmer job.  And that’s also, it’s 2019.  The presidential election in Ukraine finished like it finished.  It was very honest, but it finished like it finished, and we knew immediately with my wife that the war is imminent.  So we decided to move.  And I started searching for a job in Europe, in the United States, but mostly in Europe.  And that’s how I got my job.

GLEN:  And how did you disclose your blindness, and when?

ANDRE:  That is a great question.  I love answering it actually because I have an opinion, a strong opinion that I disclose my blindness not in the CV and not in the cover letter, but in the middle of the first talk.  Somewhere in the middle of the first talk with HR or with the recruiter.  That’s how I do it.

GLEN:  So you did it fairly early; right?  I mean, you did it early on where they could easily have said, ah, we don’t want to hire a blind guy.

ANDRE:  Yeah, exactly.  But I don’t do “Hello, I’m blind.”

GLEN:  Right.

ANDRE:  That is super awkward.

GLEN:  But it apparently did not dissuade them.  Did they at least ask questions about it?  I mean, when you got down to the brass tacks of talking to the right folks?

ANDRE:  Yeah, yes, sure.  They asked some questions.  The funny reaction was from a recruiter, like we were talking for 20 minutes in German.  I was sweating, I will tell you honestly, because German is a tough language, at least for me it is, and still now.  But it was like three years ago even more.  And I was talking to her in German.  And when she said, okay, what job do you want, blah blah blah, I said I want a backend job.  I can do some frontend, but you know, I’m blind.  That’s why probably designer job is not for me.  UX job is not for me probably.  Just, and she was like, five seconds pause, like a breath, like okay.  Okay.  And then the conversation continued. 

GLEN:  That’s really good.  And these were the people who ultimately hired you?

ANDRE:  No, no.

GLEN:  Oh, okay.

ANDRE:  That was a recruiter.  No.  But those people are like, I don’t know, my HR just didn’t react.  She’s like, okay.  I said, “I’m blind.”  She’s like, okay, okay.  Go ahead.  Go further.

GLEN:  We’re about to transition into a portion of the podcast where your voice remains, but your personality has been removed from it as you translate our next interview.  Since you do have Ukrainian roots, it seems only appropriate for me to ask you about the emotional impact that the war has on you.

ANDRE:  I mean, it’s very, it’s very – it’s heavy.  It’s my country.  It’s my country that is in war because Ukraine is my country.  I’m Ukrainian citizen.  And that is how can I perceive that?  There are things that I cannot do.  There are even now, after a year, there are some groups, there are some songs that I cannot listen.  I just cannot.  It triggers me so hard. 

GLEN:  Thank you, Andre.

ANDRE:  You’re very welcome, and thank you for having me again.

Interview with Sasha Hordiiko and Igor Kushnir

GLEN:  I’d like to bring into the conversation two people from the Training and Information Computer Center of the Ukrainian Association of the Blind.  In your left ear will be Sasha Hordiiko.  And in your right ear will be Igor Kushnir.  They’ll be answering my questions in Ukrainian.  You’ll hear a little bit of their answers in Ukrainian, and then Andre will take over with the translations.

It’s been right around a year since the war in Ukraine began.  And I just want to take a couple of minutes and ask the two of you, what’s it been like for you, living in a war zone?

SASHA HORDIIKO:  We try to live as usual, but it’s – we are already used to it, and the time goes very, very slowly.  And basically your lifestyle is now a habit.  I even cannot remember what was new when the war started because now it’s more like a habit, a usual way of living now.  Your daily schedule changes because electricity’s not there always.  You cannot, like, put away, or you’re not schedule, go for groceries like for later.  You need to do it now because otherwise you are stuck.  You have no electricity.  You keep your devices 100% charged always because you never know when the electricity goes away.  That’s the main challenges maybe for the daily life.  And we don’t see our customers anymore that often.  Usually our customers came to our center every day.  We came to work, and we saw our customers, our clients.  And now it’s all remote.

GLEN:  And how did you get your customers used to working remotely?

IGOR KUSHNIR:  Basically we were ready.  We were ready because it was COVID, the pandemic was before the war.  That’s why we were ready to put everything remote.  For the elderly people who are not very convenient to use computer for them, they have phone numbers that they can call and get some help.  And for the others, we have a community in Telegram.  Also Zoom conferences, and also we have a Facebook community.

GLEN:  Is it any more difficult for blind people to adapt to this situation than someone who’s sighted?

SASHA:  In the beginning of the war, they actually live, Igor and Sasha, they live on the edge of the city, near the forest basically.  And there were Russian groups that put those grenades that explode when you step on it or step near or something like that.  That was super insecure, of course.  But the only way to go for groceries or something like that was to use places where there were many people because people became very, very helpful.  They stopped doing what they were doing and saying like, hello, there is a blind person, we need to let him go, to help him, to assist him and so on, so forth.

So it was very – the attention to elderly people, to disabled people, was super great, and Sasha says he’s shocked about that because it’s not usual.  But that is very drastical change since the beginning of the war.  The people became far, far more helpful.  And of course people were nervous, but not super panicky.  Now that’s better.  Of course you can have those grenades and stuff in parks or in deep forest, but you basically are safe to go in the streets in the city now.

GLEN:  When did you decide that you were going to start an Internet radio station?

IGOR:  Oh.

SASHA:  It’s a very long story.

GLEN:  I have time.

IGOR:  Okay.  I have, too.

SASHA:  When they both, he and Igor, when they started their work at the Ukrainian Association for the Blind, there was a task for them to start the Internet radio station.  And basically their bosses, they thought like you are young.  You are not very experienced.  That will take a long time.  But in practice, in reality, that was quite quick.  They started the Internet radio station.

GLEN:  And what is the purpose?  What are you doing on it?

SASHA:  Basically when we began, when the radio station was started, we were in, like, standby mode because we thought like there will be great journalists, great people who will do radio programs, whatever.  But we won’t do that on our own, basically.

IGOR:  And then the war started basically, and many Ukrainian people, many blind people went away, out of Ukraine, so to other countries.  And there were of course lots of our customers.  And we found out that either the forum or the amount of information was not enough that blind community provided.  And that was Igor who is telling this story.  And he basically moved to his mother in a village further from the war actions.  And Sasha stayed in Kyiv.  And they decided that, okay, if no one did that, we have a radio station.  If no one does that, we will do that.

Many Ukrainians abroad, they wanted to listen to something because they have a very huge language barrier.  So they wanted to listen to something in Ukrainian, but not only in Ukrainian, but also they wanted to know who is doing that.  That is a part of our mentality, basically.  They don’t – and we started getting feedback.  And the feedback was not in public space.  It was like indirect messages and personal messages, like thank you guys, it’s super calming, super homely, so we feel home.  When we turn on your radio station in the evening, we feel like we’re home.  That was the feedback from people.

GLEN:  It’s not necessarily about training.  It’s just about keeping people in touch and talking about what’s going on and so forth.

IGOR:  It’s audiobooks, something about gadgets, like new devices.  It’s entertainment content like audio description of soccer match, soccer games, for example. 

SASHA:  And the fairy tales for the kids, of course.

GLEN:  Oh, of course.  How is the infrastructure, things like Internet connectivity and telephone connectivity and so forth?  How well is that remaining during the war?

IGOR:  While we have electricity, we have everything. 

SASHA:  When the electricity, there’s no electricity first, like one half, two hours, the speed is okay, mobile Internet speed.  Then of course everyone starts using it and the speed goes down.  And also the batteries in the operators, like cell phone operators, they also have their batteries for supplying electricity to their equipment.  So that also goes down.  And if there is no electricity for a longer time, then it’s worse and worse and worse.  But there is also what is called “national roaming” in Ukraine.  That means that if your cell phone operator goes down, you can connect to another operator free of charge.

If there is a live hack because they had a soccer translation, soccer game translation, and if there’s no nothing, as they say, like there’s no Internet, no electricity, no nothing, you go to the subway, basically to Ukrainian metro station.  And you get everything, get 4G.  When Zelenskyy came as a president, he said that we need to cover all the country with a decent Internet connection, and especially subway stations.  And now all the subway stations have, at least in Kyiv, have 4G connection.

IGOR:  The subway now is the safest place for work.  So basically when you go to the subway, you can see lots of people sitting with their laptops and smartphones and working.

SASHA:  You have like an air alarm, like air raid alarm, and you have a work meeting.  What to do?  What should I do?  You say, like, okay, three minutes I’m with you again.  You go to the subway, and you work.

GLEN:  Somewhere around the beginning of January you guys put out a call for power stations.  And I’m pleased to say that Freedom Scientific was able to donate one of those.  What exactly are you going to be using these for?

IGOR:  It’s basically about finishing work.  So for example, when the electricity goes away, and there is an embossing work, an embossing job started, it will allow to finish it.  Or if there is a recording, like our recording now, that is going on, it will just allow us to finish the recording.

GLEN:  Like a UPS for people who have them connected to their computers.

IGOR:  Yes, yes, yes.

SASHA:  When we translated world championship, soccer world championship, there was a person, a sited person who described the game on the radio.  And he was running through the city to the cafés where there was a generator or to other places, like asking for help, begging for help, just please may I continue my work because I am describing for blind people and so on, so forth.  And we did all the games except for one.  One game was skipped because nowhere, there was no electricity, nowhere basically.

IGOR:  There was a game between Croatia and Morocco on the soccer world championship.  And the game was finished with a tie.  And there were extra times, extra periods added for deciding the goal, basically who wins.  And we were just super nervous, like we were praying, sitting and praying.  First we’re just asking, virtually asking those players, please someone, just doesn’t matter who, just finish the game before we stop having electricity.  And but everything went well.  And also we were sitting in different places for safety.  So if one of us loses electricity, we basically have other person who is in another city, another town, who has electricity.

GLEN:  Well, thank you both very much for being on the podcast.  I was a little reluctant to ask you because I know you’re living through these things on a daily basis, and to ask you to talk about them one more time seemed like a little bit of an imposition.  But I really appreciate your being so willing and interested to share with our audience what’s going on.

IGOR:  Thank you, Glen.

Signing Off on FSCast 226

GLEN:  That pretty much does it for FSCast 226.  If you’d like to get in touch with us, by all means write to fscast@vispero.com, fscast@vispero.com.  I know I say this quite often, but nothing makes me more pleased than to hear from you.  I say this sincerely.  Not that many people write.  And regardless of the content, even if you’re critical about something, it’s great to start a dialogue.  Of course if you’re positive, that’s nice, too.  Either way, fscast@vispero.com.  I’m Glen Gordon.  See you in March.

Transcript by elaine@edigitaltranscription.com



edigitaltranscription.com  •  02/21/2023  •  edigitaltranscription.com