ATU276 – Free Uber rides for blind job seekers Mike Hess Blind

first_imgWADE WINGLER: Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? Call our listener line at 317-721-7124, shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAProject, or check us out on Facebook. Looking for a transcript or show notes from today’s show? Head on over to Assistive Technology Update is a proud member of the Accessibility Channel. Find more shows like this plus much more over at That was your Assistance Technology Update. I’m Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in Indiana.***Transcript provided by TJ Cortopassi. For requests and inquiries, contact [email protected]*** Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadYour weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Show Notes: Mike Hess – Founder and Executive Director – Blind Institute of Technology  www.blindit.orgLive Coverage of Apple’s ‘See You on the 7th’ iPhone 7 Event Moving Forward——————————If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email [email protected] out our web site: https://www.eastersealstech.comFollow us on Twitter: @INDATAprojectLike us on Facebook:——-transcript follows ——MIKE HESS: Hi, my name is Mike Hess. I am the executive director and founder of Blind Institute of Technology, and this is your Assistance Technology Update.WADE WINGLER: Hi, this is Wade Wingler with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals crossroads in Indiana with your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.Welcome to episode number 276 of Assistive Technology Update. It’s scheduled to be released on September 9 of 2016.Today I have a fascinating conversation with Mike Hess who is the founder and executive director of the Blind Institute of Technology and how he has worked with Uber at least in Colorado to help people who are blind and looking for work to get free Uber rides when they go on job interviews.Also we have some breaking news on what Apple has done in terms of announcing iPhone 7, iOS 10, Apple Watch 2, and all kinds of Apple stuff. We’ve got an app review from the folks over at BridgingApps called moving forward.We hope you’ll check out our website at, shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project, or give us a call on our listener line. We love to hear your questions and your feedback. That number is 317-721-7124.***[Christmas Music]I know you think it’s probably a little bit early, and I might not disagree, but we are in the process of planning our annual Holiday Assistive Technology Shopping Show. Once a year, we sit with our friends and talk about great gift ideas for people with disabilities and users of assistive technology. We would love to have your input. Call our listener line, send us an email, send us a tweet, let us know what you think we should include in that in this year’s holiday shopping show. We will be putting it together soon and will release on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, here in the US. Tell us now what you want for a holiday gift.***So it’s not unusual for me to record the show on Wednesday, but what is a little unusual however is I’m sitting in the studio with the Apple keynote live event on one screen and my recording software up and running on the other. I’m learning about all the things Apple is announcing here in September, 2016, related to the new iPhone and Apple Watch and those kinds of things. I will probably come back in the coming weeks and hit again on some of the accessibility features related to Apple’s announcements, but as I’m looking at live blogs and live streams and tweets and these things, here’s what I’m seeing.Apple pulled a surprise today and announced that they are going to have a new Super Mario Run game coming to iOS, designed to take advantage of some of those features of the new iPhone 7. Also they’ve got a thing called Everyone Can Code that’s designed to teach kids how to program in their Swift language. Not to be outdone by Mario, the new Apple Watch would be coming out will be called Apple Watch Series 2 and feature Pokémon Go which will be an app that allows you to play Pokémon Go right there on your Apple Watch. I am a recent Apple Watch convert myself. I’ve been wearing one recently and started to really take advantage of some of its features, but I’ve got to tell you, Pokémon Go is not something that I have done, so not terribly excited about that, but maybe that will be what pushes me over the edge into playing Pokémon Go a little bit, especially with my kids. The other thing that is going to happen about the Apple Watch that I think is fascinating is it’s going to swim proof. It’s going to be more waterproof, or water resistant, like a swimming watch. They even showed in the keynote a way that water will go into a speaker, even on an Apple Watch, but they’re going to use the speaker to push that water back out. They’re going to be getting rid of the traditional way the iPhones have been connecting to earphones and go to a thing called a W1 wireless audio chip, and they are also announcing some new headphones to take advantage of that. There is a Beats headphone as well as a thing called AirPods which give you five hours of continuous music playback through this new connection.Finally, the iPhone 7 is what’s being announced right now as I’m recording. What I know so far is that the pricing is going to be similar. It’s going to have a new series of cameras that allow for more stability and other kinds of things to make your video experience better on your iPhone. And it’s going to include improved battery life. they are saying up to 40 hours of wireless audio, 13 hours of wireless video, 14 hours of Wi-Fi browsing, etc. They are talking about some new cases and charging docks that will be available. A new jet black color and pricing that looks about like it looked last time. We are talking about prices starting around $650 and going up from there.Preorders on Apple Watch Series 2 will start September 9, the day this podcast releases, and iOS 10 and Watch OS 3, the new operating systems for the iPhone and the watch, are going to be available on September 13. Air Pod and some of their other hardware is going to be available a little later in October. There is a sneak preview in terms of what Apple has announced today. That information is just about as fresh as you can get it. Again I’m recording on Wednesday, September 7. The show will go out on Friday, September 9 and we will come up with some additional Apple information in upcoming shows.***Each week one of our partners tells us what’s happening in the ever-changing world of apps, so here’s an App Worth Mentioning.AMY BARRY: This is Amy Barry with BridgingApps, and this is an App Worth Mentioning. Today I am sharing the Moving Forward app. This app was developed by the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Moving Forward helps you get mentally, emotionally, and physically ready to set a goal and solve a problem. While it was designed for veterans and service members, the skills are applicable to anyone who is looking to get better at facing life’s challenges. This app is appropriate for seniors, adults, and even some teens.The app appears on your device as Move Forward, and opens up with buttons for you to select what you want to do. These buttons include learn about problem solving, assessment, stop and slow down, solve my problems, and get support. The last and very important button within the app can ask you to others who can help. These can be friends, family, professionals, or other resources.Our reviewers used the app to solve problems. They liked the clear information and found the app easy to use. Moving Forward provided plenty of positive feedback at each step, which helped with motivation. For example, the graph of the reviewer’s stress was helpful in seeing how it dropped by using the steps. Another benefit was the variety of techniques you try to get calm. Who knew yawning helps you relax? But it does. For those of you who like to make lists, the goal worksheet is for you. It was easy to fill out, had clear stuff to follow, and was brief. Our reviews liked the app how you set up a reward for achieving your goal. Talk about a win-win! Overall, the app presented a easy and systematic approach to solving problems.BridgingApps highly recommends the Moving Forward app for those looking to refresh their problem-solving skills or to get a different perspective on a problem that needs attention. Moving Forward is available for free at the iTunes Store and is compatible with all iOS devices. For more information on this app and others like it, visit***WADE WINGLER: So I was recently looking at some assistive technology news headlines, and I saw one that said, “Blind man Ube-ing. One’s man’s quest to get visually impaired tech a job.” I was fascinated and thought I’ve got to talk to this person about what is going on with Uber and employment of folks who are blind or visually impaired. I have to say, I’m in Indiana but have Uber recently and have had a great expense with that and also friends with various kinds of disabilities, especially folks were blind or visually impaired, who are relying on the service and having a great experience. But before we start talking about Uber, I want to introduce today’s guest, who is Mike Hess, the founder and executive director of the Blind Institute of Technology out in Colorado Denver area. Are you still there?MIKE HESS: I am. Thank you so much for having me on assistive tech update program. I am truly honored and love the work you have done. I’m thrilled to be part of it. Thank you so much for having me on today.WADE WINGLER: Thanks for your kind words. I want to get into this Uber thing, but before we start talking about that, I need my guest to know a little bit more about you. Let’s talk about your background, the work that you’re doing it there at the blind Institute of technology, and maybe kind of what your daily life is like in that role.MIKE HESS: Sure. First of all, I’m in Midwest for myself. I’m from just outside Cleveland Ohio, right around Lake Erie. I’m always keen to talk to organizations in the Midwest. I love what you’re doing there, but it moved out here with my mom 30 years ago and it was a great move for young boy growing up in a small town in Ohio where the schools wanted to push me off to a school for the deaf and blind, and my mom wanted lunch nothing to do with that. So we went out to Colorado with the school systems were much more progressive keeping blind and impaired vision impaired people in the mainstream school system. I believe it was really good for me and my future. However, I was in IT and network nerd for almost 20 years. I was an actual developer, Cisco engineer, and in my nearly 20 year IT network career if years ago because I started asking the question as I was getting into my 40s, why am I always the token a blind guy in any organization? I started doing some due diligence like a good engineer should and just realized that there really is an underemployment epidemic within the blind or vision impairment community. So I left a six-figure income – and I don’t say that to be braggadocio us. I said that because I wasn’t just the token blind guy that they give a bunch of money to. I was very effective in my role as managing seven and eight figure projects. My entire career. It was that despite my plan is but because of my plan is because of which may be a very good engineer. Leaving that role for years ago to start a nonprofit which is completely based on getting blind and visually impaired people gainfully employed, we’ve got and 36 placements over the last 2 1/2 years, working with small companies like Davida, Aetna, Comcast, the organization like that.WADE WINGLER: The tiny ones.MIKE HESS: It’ll tiny brand names. We are really excited because we are signing contracts with even larger organizations all over the country who are buying into the fact that getting somebody was blind or visually impaired employed is nothing more than a technology solution. That’s how I approach all these Fortune 500 companies. I explained to them that getting someone who is blind or visually impaired can be very productive, as productive as their sighted pier, it’s really just using accessible technology to allow us to overcome those visual obstacles. The good news is the word is getting out there. We are getting people placed. However, this leads to our latest partnership with Uber. One of the many obstacles we have to overcome of course is transportation. I went to the local Colorado Uber folks and told them about the great work that we’re doing. I love to see if they would be willing to partner. They were all over it. That’s how you heard about us, was through another great partnership with another great organization.WADE WINGLER: So had you been a user of the Uber service before you started this conversation with them?MIKE HESS: Yes, I have been using Uber literally coast-to-coast, between planes and Uber, I get everywhere. I never – I’ve been blind my whole life and I never had more freedom as a blind person then with the technology of Uber. They are the largest transportation company in the world. They don’t own a single vehicle. I love the concept of them just levering technology to create this transportation juggernaut.WADE WINGLER: I’ve got to say, it’s not lost on me. A little earlier you said the implement of people who are blind or visually impaired is not an HR issue, it’s a technology issue. Now you’re talking about how Uber again is leveraging technology to increase independence of folks were blind or visually impaired or have disabilities in general. That sort of a comment that I see running in your life.MIKE HESS: I expect people all the time, technology is the greatest litigator on the planet. Whether it’s the right brothers or the pencil, it’s always how helped humanity advance. And now 40 years into the digital age, accessible technology is truly on this path to help the disabled community as a whole – obviously I speak blind very well, it’s who I am. Specifically we are about the blind or visually impaired. However, the same kind of pain we have, other people with other kinds of pain, they live or leverage accessible technology, assistive technology, to help them overcome that kind of pain. It is technology, technology, technology that allows us to happen. Either had more liberty in my life as a blind person then with Uber coming into my life.WADE WINGLER: I think you and I are kindred spirits because I do that. I looked at technology as a tool to solve those pain problems in my life. I also happen to know that a lot of folks in our audience are of that ilk as well. I’m fascinated with this relationship you’ve worked out with Uber, and I am sort of interested in the nuts and bolts. How does it work? What are the limitations in terms of what you’re doing with Uber?MIKE HESS: Right now we are perfect concept. We are starting here in Colorado. But honestly, if there is a person who is jobseeking here in Colorado and they just need to reach out to us here at the blind Institute of technology and let us know who it is that they are interviewing with. We will make sure they get the appropriate code that they can put in so they can get that free ride to and from the interview. We are tracking that information, so we are making sure it’s being used responsibly. As long as it continues to go as successfully as it has, Uber has talked about pulling this out nationally for us.WADE WINGLER: You have my full attention at this point. I met a couple of specific questions. You said job interviews, as we are talking specifically about right where the costs are covered when someone is blind or visually impaired is going to and from a job interview in Denver, Colorado, right?MIKE HESS: That is true.WADE WINGLER: Talk to me about this growth pattern and what we are looking at. After the concept has been borne out and it’s going to be a good thing, what do they anticipate that might look like? I understand you’re not making promises on behalf of Uber, but what is your vision for that? Speak to my vision truly is as VIP continues to grow and scale – and we are sending companies with Fortune 50, Fortune 100 companies all across the country right now who are buying into the fact that it’s a technology solution to bring in somebody who is blind, visually impaired. We are literally finalizing contracts with organizations that are looking at breaking 3 to 500 people at a time from the blind Institute of technology. Which is fantastic from a overall, are you being effective as a nonprofit. I love that. However, again, we still have to help our community overcome some of these challenges. Of course, transportation is a challenge. Mass transit is not equal all over the country, so that’s where Uber and other white shares absently come into effect, is helping out our community overcome this challenge and create a stress free environment. It’s stressful enough with your interview day without having to worry about I got to leave an hour and 45 minutes early to make sure I get to my interview on time, because mass transit, you’re never know what you’re going to get with it.WADE WINGLER: Absolutely. I know it’s an ongoing issue. As someone who is successful and a person who is blind or visually impaired and has been navigating never transportation issues and think for a lot of years, what advice would you have for someone who is blind or visually impaired and doesn’t have access to this unique sister which in Uber is offering rides for job interviews, or where there is just limited access to transportation? What advice do you have?MIKE HESS: The same advice I give anybody. This is coming from a guy who’s been blind my entire life. We all have situations – I call it the pound of pain. I’ve never met anybody who doesn’t have some form of pound of pain. Is there about the pound of pain, it’s about how we deal with that pound of pain. It’s our attitude. To me, what I found is more times than not, the vast majority of the blind, visually impaired, or disabled community as a whole that I have found it is the attitude that absolutely separates us apart. Yes, you’re going to have a challenge, and yes sometimes it’s very inconvenient. I said that with my last six-figure engineering job that I left, it was only 13 miles away from my condo. However, it took an hour and a half each way, 90 minutes, just on the bus to get to my job each way. Three hours a day, my butt was on a bus because the responsible he was on me. I had to take care of my family. That’s what I had to do. We all have our situation; however, again, it’s how I approach that situation. I can be miserable about it and everything else, and that’s going to have a lot more effect on you than just your current situation, but to me, if you convene to be a good person and have the attitude of here’s my temporary situation and I will overcome its and I do with a smile, I think more good stuff happens to us in the long run than not. That just got in my personal philosophy on life. I don’t know the answer to your entire question or not though.WADE WINGLER: That’s really good stuff. I think everybody can take a listen to the advice and take it under advisement. That’s good. From the employer’s perspective or from the company’s perspective, not everybody can step up and do what Uber is doing in the situation and do free rides for folks were blind and is jobseeking. But I know there’s a lot of stuff to be done. What’s your advice for employers who would like to be more helpful to jobseekers with with disabilities? What advice do you have for them?MIKE HESS: Talk to executives. I just got done with lunch with another CIO of yet another company here in Denver. I’ve probably spoken to more than 8000 executives in the last three years. I always start with – I explained to them, okay, I was a blind engineer, a very successful, and an environment very similar to yours. Accessible technology, assistive technology allows you to overcome very real visual obstacles. I don’t say that there is no such thing as a visual obstacle. I talk about it as an obstacle; however, because I can talk code and can top nerd with a fellow leader of nerds, I can expand to them it doesn’t matter if it is a Java environment for dot-net, whatever the platform may be, accessible technology allows us to overcome these challenges. Don’t allow the unknown or be afraid of – since you the CIO or CTO of the company, he don’t know what accessible technology is, don’t be afraid. It’s still zeros and ones. It’s just code. It’s not that intimidating. It truly isn’t. We are at a time when technical organizations and leadership, they are chomping at the bit looking for talent out there. When we connect our talented folks with organizations, they love our people. You’re not doing a downgrade in talent and attitude when you’re working with the disabled community. So don’t be afraid of the accessible technology. It’s no more than code. It’s no more than zeros and ones. Don’t be afraid of them lamenting assistive technology to get blind and visually impaired another people hired on. When you diversify your talent pool as a whole, you as an organization, as a culture, are going to be way more effective because you are bringing in other people who have a very dynamic way of problem solving. To me it’s all kinds of positives. Stop focusing on, like, I know how to do it. Just recognize that can be done to technology and you’re really going to add a lot of value to your bottom line and culture by diversifying your talent pool.WADE WINGLER: I can see why executives are responding to that. First of all, it’s logic and second of all, it’s true. Mac, we are running close on time here, but before you finish up, I want to ask you a question. As you think about the implement of people who are blind or visually impaired and transportation and a list of the figures into that, you said it’s a technology issue, it’s not a HR issue. What’s in your crystal ball? If you could wave a magic wand in terms of affecting the future for the employment of folks were blind or have a vision impairments, what are you thinking? What’s on your mind?MIKE HESS: It’s 10,000 blind or visually impaired people employed or bust for me. My goals are not small. I’m thinking big. We are still beginning to scratch the service on what needs to be done; however, I do see every Fortune 1000 company has a D&I, Diversity and Inclusion program costs what we are doing, we are going to these leaders and explaining to them that we are a full-scale solution to an organization D&I initiative. We are going to be a D&I partner. I see literally in the next 10 years this flood, this tipping point where diversity and inclusion programs allow this complete rush of blind, visually impaired, hearing impaired, death, high spectrum autism, motor skills impaired, regardless of the pound of pain. If you are qualified and have the skills, organizations are going to be way more friendly. There would be way more adapting of this talent pool it’s coming to them, because quite honestly, they need the talent. It’s really hard for these organizations just to sit back idly and wait for whatever student or perfect drone to come out of the school systems. They are looking for talented people right now. My crystal ball sees this tipping point of tens of thousands of disabled, blind and visually impaired people flooding the job market and really adding value to organizations bottom lines and cultures.WADE WINGLER: I love your energy and your goals and I think you’re going to hit them. I’m sure the people are going to want to reach out to you and learn more about what you are doing. What kind of contact information would you recommend if people wanted to reach out to you?MIKE HESS: 303-995-MIKE, 303-995-6453. I’m always interested in talking to – I have two hats. I talked to executives every day. I talked to candidates, jobseekers every day. [email protected] is my email address. Feel free to reach out to me. I am a family first guy. In the evenings I would shut it down and spend time with my boy and my amazing wife; however, I don’t really take weekends. I’ve got way too much to do before I can really appreciate weekends. Please reach out to me. I love to talk to you.WADE WINGLER: Mike Hess is the founder and executive director of the blind Institute of technology, has leverage the situation to help people get Uber right when they’re looking for job interviews, and has been a delightful guest today. Thanks so much for being on our show. Be to thank you for the opportunity. Have a great weekend. Share this…TwitterFacebookPinterest1LinkedInEmailPrint RelatedATU149 – Indoor Navigation for the Blind with Dr Aura Ganz, ATIA webinars, Microsoft Office for the iPad, Wheelchair for going down stairs, Endless Alphabet app, Bridging AppsApril 4, 2014In “Assistive Technology Update”ATU200 – Wade Wingler is interviewed by Danny Wayne in This Special Celebration of 200 Episodes of Assistive Technology UpdateMarch 27, 2015In “Assistive Technology Update”ATU273 – Autism GlassAugust 19, 2016In “Assistive Technology Update”last_img read more

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