One can find a plethora of apps and websites that broadcastmusic, sports, and talk shows. Many are excellent resources providing seeminglyendless entertainment. As good as these services are, they, with just a fewexceptions, fail to include audio with a special interest to or created bypeople who are blind and visually impaired. One app seeks to change that.
Sero, formerly iBlink Radio, contains several types ofinformation and resources especially tailored to people who are blind or anyonewho wishes to know more about blindness issues and concerns. The app, developedby the assistive technology company called Serotek Corporation, offers bothfree content and paid/premium content.
Thanks to Serotek’s technical support, here is a briefhistory of Sero:
The iBlink Radio app was first published to the iOS AppStore in the fall of 2009. We released the first Android version in the springof 2011. In 2012, we extended the iOS version with access to the paidsubscription service, which was then known as SAMNet (System Access MobileNetwork). The Android version got a make-over in late 2013 and limited accessto SAMNet in mid-2014. We announced last year that we would rebrand iBlink andSAMNet as Sero. (Sero was released in September).
Here is a summary of the categoriesof the free Sero content:
- Audio Tutorials and Interviews–some of which deal with Serotek products while others discuss general computer concerns
- Blindness Resources–over 30 websites, organizations, and content providers with information about many topics related to blindness and visual impairment
- Community Radio–over 40 radio stations run by people who are blind and visually impaired
- Podcasts–nearly 60 series of podcasts covering assistive technology, other blindness-related issues, and more
- Reading Services–nearly 50 services, some of which are specific to a state while others read national magazines
- Sero Premium Content Sampler–a list of some of what is available as a paid subscriber to Sero
- Local Content–displays all resources from all categories that are based in or near your current location
- Recently Played–a list of content you last accessed on the app
When you find something you like,you can save it as a preset and access it from the presets section. Also, ifyou want to find something quickly, you can type into the search field whichyou reach when you first open the app.
Here is a listing of some of the categories of Sero’s premiumcontent; you can view all of them on the app.
- Featured Movie
- Featured TV show
- Email–allows you to create a Sero email account
- Community forums and chat rooms
- News–audio and text news covering sports, tech, current events, and other topics
- Sports–schedules, headlines, and information about different sports including beep baseball
- Weather–enter requested information to get weather for any United States location
- Entertainment–consisting of accessible games, audio books, and 14 other categories
- Information–32 categories of information including content of interest to the blind community, the place where some of the free Sero content resides, radio, technology, food, shopping, and more
- Website–a way for you to create and customize your own website
You can save favorites, addstories to a section called My Newspaper, bookmark sites, and save informationfrom the app that is important to you. If you wish, you may still search forcontent. The search feature is especially useful for locating free content thatis placed elsewhere once the premium content is unlocked.
A Sero subscription costs $16.95 per month or $149 peryear. Or, for $21.95 per month or $240 per year, you can get the Serosubscription plus access to Serotek’s DocuScan Plus for Windows and Mac and theirSystem Access screen reader for Windows. Read about these two pieces ofsoftware on the Serotek website.
Serotek wants people to make informed decisions abouttheir products. As a result, all Serotek products, including the Sero app,offer a 14-day free trial so you can review all of the premium content for 14days and then purchase it if you wish. The other great thing about the trial isthat no credit card is required to receive it, and you do not have to contact Serotekif you do not want to pay for the premium content. To sign up for the trial,you must create an account; you do that by tapping “Log in” on the home screenof Sero. Enter your information, and create the account. You should receive anemail fairly quickly. Open it and click the included link to verify your emailaddress. If you fail to do so within three days, your account is deletedautomatically.
When you view the available material—free or premium—the contentis listed alphabetically. For example, as you flick to the right on the screenshowing free content, you hear the app say: “Blindness resources” … “Communityradio” … etc. Double tap on the category you want to explore, and its selectionsappear alphabetically as well. Sero is available in the iOS, Mac, and AndroidApp Stores.
Normally I advise people to search for an app in theappropriate App Store instead of trying to find its link because this procedureusually is easy to do. In this case, however, you must search diligently asthere are other apps with Sero in their name. These apps have nothing to dowith the field of blindness, and some are apps you must pay to download. Toknow if you are downloading the correct app, you should hear, “Sero, formerlyiBlink Radio”. Be sure to download the app with that description.Alternatively, you may search for “iBlink” and locate the app in the same way.If you would prefer to find it straight from a link, get it on the iOS appstore at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sero-formerly-iblink-radio/id332027117?mt=8or the Mac App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sero-formerly-iblink-radio/id905524144?mt=12or on the Google Play store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.serotek.iblink&hl=en.
For more information on Serotek, you can “Like” them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and subscribe to theirYouTube channel.