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Staunton Media Lab News

Jonell Floyd and Steve O'Keefe

Staunton Media Lab Fails at ICAP

They say entrepreneurs should fail fast, and so the Staunton Media Lab has lived up to this legend by failing the Innovation Commercialization Assistance Program (ICAP) offered by the Virginia Small Business Development Center (SBDC). ICAP is boot camp for taking innovative solutions to the venture capital stage. Staunton Media Lab failed to secure the minumum 20 interviews required, but that did not stop us from benefitting from the program, the instructors, the textbooks, and the many interviews we did conduct with heavy users of multimedia.

Staunton Media Lab = Content Conversion

While we failed the ICAP startup bootcamp, Staunton Media Lab learned enough from customer and prospect interviews to approach content generation from a whole different angle. What we found was that marketers want clever video to attract, connect and convert, but experience shows it's difficult and expensive to get something that actually works. What if you could take all the content you already have lying around, like emails and blog posts and reports and spreadsheets and slideshows and recordings, wave the magic wand, and turn it into clever little branded content nuggets? That's the new Staunton Media Lab!

We're Excited to Give You an Estimate

What would it would cost to generate a steady stream of clever content nuggets -- daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly -- optimized for the channels you use, aligned with your audience and your brand, served in simple branded frames that keep the choices and costs to a minimum? We make videos from text, slideshows from articles, books from blog posts -- in other words, what you need from what you got. Let us start converting content and prospects for you!

Two Breakthroughs in Assistive Tech

Staunton Media Lab executive director, Steve O'Keefe, was the guest speaker at the Work/Study Breakfast at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) on May 10th, where he demonstrated two significant new assistive technology tools.

Velcroing a phone to his vest, O'Keefe was able to project his talk to the hard of hearing and deaf using Google LiveTranscribe. The app was released in a beta version three months ago and is available only for Android smartphones at this time.

O'Keefe worked with graduating senior, Jonell Floyd, to improve Jonell’s writing abilities. After months of effort, with the assistance of VSDB staff Sharon Ernest, Lisa Walters, Ann Christian, and Daniel Martin, Jonell was able to use Google Docs Voice Typing to increase his writing speed from roughly seven WPM to roughly 70 WPM, which is faster than most people type.

Jonell demonstrated the difference in a live performance, writing sentence after sentence, properly punctuated and capitalized, using Google Docs Voice Typing. While voice typing has been available for some time, the new Google transcription engine was upgraded six months ago and is nearly flawless.

Both Google Live Transcribe and Google Docs Voice Typing are free. For best results with Google Docs Voice Typing, use a USB headset microphone and sit up straight!

Staunton Media Lab News is published quarterly by the Staunton Media Lab, a media arts program for the deaf, the blind and the uniquely able. Thank you for taking an interest in our program and for your continued support!


The Hidden Side of Helen Keller

Helen Keller in 1920

A Book Review by Steve O'Keefe
Executive Director of the Staunton Media Lab

Out of the Dark: Essays, Letters, and Addresses on Physical and Social Vision
by Helen Keller
Kessinger Publishing Rare Reprints
ISBN 1437234704, 282 pages, hardcover
Originally published in 1920 by Doubleday, Page & Company
Picture of Helen Keller in 1920 courtesy Wikimedia Commons

If you only know Helen Keller as the deaf blind girl who learns language at the water pump, you don't know Helen Keller. That willful little girl grew up into a willful woman suffragette who spoke with her hands loudly enough to be heard around the world. This book reveals the hidden side of Helen Keller which has nearly been erased from history.

The Miracle Worker is the name of a book, a play and movie about the young Helen Keller. The miracle worker of the title is not Helen Keller but her teacher, Anne Sullivan, who taught Keller to finger spell and sign, and to write and read Braille. Sullivan was herself blind for a number of years but regained her sight. The Miracle Worker doesn't tell what happened after Helen Keller learned to read.

The Wikipedia version of the Helen Keller story is that she went on to graduate from college, became an advocate for the blind and eventually a much-loved worldwide ambassador for the disabled. The hidden story is quite a bit different.

I had heard that Helen Keller had become a radical Socialist firebrand who was a thorn in the side of several U.S. Presidents. I had heard that she wrote books later in life that were banned and are now unavailable. I searched online and only found hints about Helen Keller's Socialist writings. One day, passing through Alabama for the 45th time, I decided to visit the Helen Keller Home at Ivy Green -- including the famous water pump where she learned to talk using the tingling of her palms -- and to find out more about these forbidden texts.

I should have known it was a fool's errand. Tuscumbia, Alabama, is not the place one would expect to find works by the beloved matriarch of the disabled on the subjects of economics, politics and the labor struggle. Let me make this shockingly clear: The Helen Keller Home does not display any of the books Helen Keller wrote herself, except for The Story of My Life, which was co-written by Keller and Anne Sullivan while Keller was in college. The only books in the Helen Keller Home gift shop and book store are by other people, such as The Miracle Worker, and books about her interpreters, Anne Sullivan (until 1936) and Polly Thompson (until 1960). Keller died in 1968 at the age of 88, outliving both her beloved companions.

The ARMi Assistive Technology Arm

 Staunton Media Lab Unveils ARMi Assistive Technology Arm        

ARMi Brings Tech Tools Within Reach of Disabled

Putting 1,000 helping hands into homes this holiday season.

(Staunton, VA — September 1, 2017) On Friday, September 1, the Staunton Media Lab will debut a breakthrough in assistive technology — the ARMi Assistive Technology Arm — putting advanced technology within reach of the disabled.

The ARMi (short for "Advanced Recreational Media Interface") is a portable, mechanical arm that allows for "hands-free" use of smartphones, tablet computers, remote controls, and other useful devices. The ARMi Assistive Technology Arm also holds many devices useful for disabled or mobility-challenged persons, including a mirror, a magnifying glass and a magnetic plate.

The ARMi was developed as an inexpensive document reader for the blind. Document readers for the blind can cost several thousand dollars — too expensive for many who need them. However, smartphones that cost less than $100 can read documents to the blind — if the person has help holding the phone. The ARMi Assistive Technology Arm provides those helping hands. With the ARMi and a smart phone, blind persons can easily position the phone and have books and documents read out loud by the phone.

The ARMi begins selling on Amazon October 1 for only $99. However, during the month of September, the ARMi is available for only $69 through Kickstarter. Supplies are limited to 1,000 units.

How Does a Blind Person Edit Video?

Image of blind video editor Coley Evans

The Staunton Media Lab (SML) is pleased to present a new video release entitled How Does a Blind Person Edit Video? Watch as SML Audio Director Coley Evans, who is blind from birth, edits a video using Windows Movie Maker.

SML hopes you will share this extraordinary video. It's built around a screen capture from Coley's first effort at video editing. You are seeing something even Coley can't see: what it looks like when a blind person edits video.

 How Does a Blind Person Edit Video? was made with the following process:

  • Coley downloads video from YouTube and opens in Windows Movie Maker
  • Coley starts the screen capture program, Screencastify, which makes a movie of his desktop
  • The screen capture movie is converted to MP4 using VLC software
  • Video of Coley editing video without a monitor or a mouse was added
       (Shot with a Canon HD Cam saved to an SD card)
  • Video of short interview with Coley was added
       (Shot with a Sony MiniDV Cam to an EZ Grabber capture card to OBS)
  • Music was downloaded from a credited source of copyright-free music
  • Two synthetic, machine-generated voices are heard in this video
  • The final video was edited by Devon Donis, Video Editor at SML, using Adobe Premier
  • Directed by Steve O'Keefe, SML Executive Director
  • Produced by Staunton Media Lab — Video & Audio Editing by the Deaf, Blind and Uniquely Able

Copyright-Free 2017 by Staunton Media Lab. Please feel free to download and distribute this video as long as the contents are not changed and this copyright notice is intact. Thank You!

A Wish Goes A Long Way

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How Can You Help?

Get your profile made! We interview for 20 minutes and edit to 2. Audio or video. Buy a six-pack for your team! Email or phone SML at 540-324-7023 to schedule today!

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