Last night I headed out with Alexandre Lemieux to the Clock Tower Pub to meet Canadian Sci-Fi author Robert J Sawyer. The multi-award winning Mr. Sawyer was there to promote the release of his new book, Wake.
Mr. Sawyer began the evening by reading, rather animatedly, the first chapter from his new book. In which the protagonist, Caitlin Decter, is a blind 15 year old girl living in Canada. Caitlin makes use of JAWS which is a screen reader for the blind. Oddly enough, at work, we are adding accessibility features for the blind and we are using JAWS quite heavily.
After the reading I got a chance to talk to Mr. Sawyer and get my book signed. I asked him if he researched JAWS by using it at home, to which he replied he did. Then I asked how long he spent in the mental institution afterward. This got an explosive reaction as he agreed with me that we are not doing enough to help blind people interact with computers. You see JAWS is the industry leader for screen reading technology but it is darn near impossible to use and crashes frequently.
Mr. Sawyer recognized quite a few people in the crowd on sight including Alexandre's friend Christian Sauve who was also in attendance. He answered quite a number of questions posed by the audience on a variety of topics including the future of paper books and the upcoming TV pilot for his book FlashForward. The show is based on the novel in which everyone in the world blacks out for two minutes and has a vision of the future. Here is a teaser that aired during last nights Lost.
Flash Forward is one of my two favourite novels by RJS the other being Calculating God.
If you ever get a chance to hear Mr. Sawyer talk you should definitely take the chance to do so as he is an excellent author and genuine human being.