Volume 2, Episode 4: Interview with Kimberly Cline of AI Squared

Kimberly Cline of AI Squared joins Mark on the IAP to discuss the ZoomText for Mac Release. Kimberly tells the story of starting ZoomText University and how it help both ZoomText users and to evangelize the product.   


Mark: Welcome to the IAP the interactive accessibility podcast many new people technology and ideas helping to make your world accessible to everyone

Mark: Hey welcome to the IAP. I'm your host Mark Miller thanking you for helping us keep it accessible. Do us a favor. If you're enjoying the IAP share it, tell someone about. Hey, even link to it from your accessible website. Well, thanks for joining us. I have a special guest with me today. This is part two of our AI squared series. So, on the line with me is Kimberly Cline from AI squared. How are you doing, Kimberly?

Kimberly: Great how are you, Mark?

Mark: I'm excellent. So, I had Aaron Leventhal on with me at last episode and we talked a lot about Sitecues, which is sorta... I know its sort of new and innovative in the way that it integrates right in with web sites. But, you are in charge the ZoomText side in the house. Right?

Kimberly: I am, I am. I'm glad you talked to Aaron. We're very excited about sitecues and everything. And, I'm sure he had some brilliant things to say, so I'm excited to hear that broadcast. But, I am we have two separate offices as Aaron might have mentioned. So we have the Cambridge side, which is sitecues and all those folks, and then we have the office in Manchester Center, beautiful, Vermont.

Mark: Oh, so you're in Vermont?

Kimberly: Well, I wish I was sometimes. I actually...

Mark: your office is in Vermont. [gp]

Kimberly: Yeah, our office is in Vermont. I get to go there about umm... anywhere between four to six times a year. So, I'm pretty lucky. I try to avoid the freezing cold times. I actually in Las Vegas Nevada.

Mark: Ah, that's different weather-wise.

Kimberly: Different is a nice way to put that. Right now it's beautiful but you know in June and July when it get 120...

Mark: It's going to get hot.

Kimberly: You can through an egg on the side walk and cook it. Now it's...  it can definitely be little of here.

Mark: Nice! Well I guess you enjoy it while you can and, if you go to Vermont, boy bundle up and bring your skis.

Kimberly: Absolutely. If you ever get a chance to come out, our office is located right at Bromley you can almost ski down Bromley and go right into the front lot.

Mark: oh, wow,

Kimberly: Pretty cool… cool of stuff.

Mark: Well, Kimberly, you've got a couple of new things going on with Zoom... ZoomText. You've got some text Mac and also Image Reader is that right?

Kimberly: We do. We're really excited. We just came back from a ATIA There was about, I think, 12 or so from our company up there and we got to show some even new features with those products. Last year at ATIA we premiered them. It was kinda funny because ZoomText Mac was just-released, I think we were, like, finishing the code on the plane on the way out to ATIA... not this year but last year. But this year we were able to show all the new reading features and we're really excited about that with ZoomText for Mac. So, when we first created it, we created it as no speech at all. And, basically, we got a lot of feedback from folks and people said, hey, you know, we wish it said this or did this. So, we were able to add a few of those features in.

Mark: That's good. Well, I think that's great when you're... when you're able to get that kind of feedback and then implement it. Not every company, kinda of, does that. But I think, especially in our industry, you know in the in the assistive technology, kind of, accessibility industry, it is really important for us to get feedback from the users otherwise it's... it's really difficult to tell if your products out there doing what it's supposed to be doing.

Kimberly: You know I agree with you 100 percent. I'm so thrilled to work for AI Square we really listen to the people I'm very fortunate to be one of the... I call it the roving salesperson or whatever you wanna call me. I don't even know what my... you know... I'm the regional channel manager. I'm I am the person that's on the road the most for them. So, a road warier.

Mark: A road warier... the Mad Max of AI Squared.

Kimberly: Yeah, exactly! But it we do listen to people and that's... you know... I'm out there and I hear folks say, "Hey we live your products. It would be over the moon if it did XYZ." And, I get to bring all that back and have them go, "Wow! That's interesting, you know, we've never thought about matter that... how many times have you heard that kimberly?" And, so they listen it's exciting.

Mark: Yeah, well, that must be a rewarding as an employee to have a company that... that listens to you and listen to the feedback you're getting from from the client. So, its kinda exciting that Mac an Image Reader are... they're... they're relatively new they're doing well and the other thing I wanted to, kinda, ask you about, was, that you guys implemented a little while back the ZoomText University. Is that what you call it: ZoomText University?

Kimberly: Yeah bZTU ZoomText University.

Mark: And, I think is a great idea!

Kimberly: Yeah! When they brought me on with the company I kinda was brought on for the regional channel manager role. When I did that, because I live in Las Vegas, I oversaw the western area and I did a lot of traveling in the West and work with our great dealers out there and found out hey what's working and what's not. And after I'd been there about six months was able to get that pretty well rolling and, of course, it's still something that you're always changing, I came to our CEO David Wu and said, "Hey who's running our training program?" because that's my background that's my passion. Who's running that...? is there any program? ...and I said...

Mark: What's that!?

Kimberly: ...we do webinars Kimberly. We have, you know, we got rate thing going on... and ZoomText is ZoomText people point and click and they learn it. And, I said, "Right... so, who's running you're training program?" And he goes, you know, "Pitch me. Tell me what's going on." And I said, "You know, it's a great product. And, you're right. That's the great thing, it's simple it's easy. You cannot even have to manually. You can figure it out really quickly. But, we have some very powerful features that I don't think people know how to use... or know how to use effectively. And he said, "Okay I'm listening," and I said, "I want to create a training curriculum I want to actually fly out to folks around the world in other countries everywhere were you know we have a product that's written in other languages and all these other interfaces I want this to be a global campaign... and I want to go out and show people how great our software is. Not just how easy it is, but how powerful."

Mark: Well, what a great thing... I mean it goes back to do what we're talking about just a few minutes ago that, you have an idea you have, kinda... I don't know if I'd even call it a concern but you're wondering about a training program and you present it to, you know, the the top level at AI Squared and their reaction isn't, leave me alone. Its - tell me about it. What what your idea? What can we do? Will this work. And guess what the result is? You actually have ZoomText University now.

Kimberly: We do. We launched it last year. It was kind of a prototype. I think… give me a year might go last year with need well-trained we've been back and I said you know II already know I can set up six because of my past experiences in the training market and all these places. And they’ll say, “Hey, you trained for us we're I used to work,” -  I used to work for GB Micro -,” you train for us with Windoweyes.” Hey, now I work for this company. “Great Kimberly can you come in?” Yeah, just fill the class and we’ll be thrilled to host it.

Mark: nice

Kimberly: so we kinda did that. I just went to some premier sites that I worked with and from that people started calling to say, “Hey we've heard about this new programming. Can you come to us?” And that's the great thing about just got off the phone with somebody in California this morning it she said, Hey, I can't make your classe and I see that you're offering a one-day ZoomText University there. I live in this area. Can you come to us? How do we arrange it?” You know, I said, “Give me a room with five people and that’s a training. And that's basically it. We're not making money offering it. That's not the purpose of it. We're trying to evangelize and go out and show people our software is not only easy but It's great and we're here to support you.

Mark: I imagine it as a bunch a great things for you, like you said it evangelize. I'm sure you guys are proud of the products that you put out there and if you are why not I teach people how to use them to their fullest potential, right? Why have something that you're really proud to have created only sit there and only be partially used? The question I have about the university is, kinda obvious thing to me is this is really benefit benefiting your end users, right, your clients. Is that is that where the University stops? Are you guys found that this, kinda, reaches out further and has an extended benefit beyond that obvious client benefit?

Kimberly: Well, I think you're right. It definitely benefits the client's. But, I think it goes beyond… I mean for one, it is a university we do of course the CEUs. So, if people come through and really need accreditation. If they're a trainer or they have a job that requires that they can get the CEUs. We provided them a curriculum so it's very hands-on. They sit down in the learning environment to where it is very comfortable. We teach a concept they practice it. You know, it’s not just me that does the training. We have a couple of staff that do the training. So, we have myself, Kathy Gettle who's been with the company, gosh, I wanted say fifteen years. She is our daily network manager that does training. Derrek Bovie, who most people heard of because he does our webinars. He flies around and does training. And then, because it’s grown, you know, David was really open to me. He said, “Kimberly, You’ve got really got good contract trainers bring them on and, if you train them, we send them out. So we've got about five trainers. And it's really cool because they go out and it's a fun environment, people learn and they leave… they’re pumped up about the product. And when they leave they’re pumped up about their ability. Their ability going, “Wow! I wasn't able to do this because I was sitting here with Kimberly and she told me. She tested me. We had a review…” and then I do fun things like we're gonna pretend you're all councilors and somebody came in at his name’s Mr. Green and he loves green so everybody change the mouse pointer to extra-large green. Everybody change the focus to green. We just have a lot of fun and they go, "she showed us all these concepts and now she's giveing us a practical reason to do it and if we forget any of it, guess what, she gave me an awesome curriculum its 350 pages is it's blown up and I can see it. It has screenshots showing where I should be and it has keystrokes mouse strokes and pull down menus. Wow! This is great."

Mark: You know it just struck me that we make assistive technologies, right? We can, kinda, put this all under the assistive technology blanket for lack of a better term and we do that so that for the sake of empowerment, right? It's to empower people to be able to do things and to express their ideas and to get information. It kinda reminds me that Microsoft commercial that ran during the Super Bowl that was all about empowerment, right?

Kimberly: Exactly.

Mark: your education is just more empowerment, right? You're going in and you really empowering those people to use the tools even better, which increases the empowerment. So it all just seems to really fits very, very well.

Kimberly: You know, I appreciate you saying that because that's how I feel and my background - I've been in the industry about twenty-five years - my background when I first started what's more people that had limited to no vision. I taught with a software called Flipper. If you have been around and are as old as I am - It's no longer around... it was a great screen reading program at its height - I learned right away that people said to me, "You know what? Yeah, its easy for you." Because I have full vision... I'm not visually impaired which is interesting in this industry and they said, "You know what? Yeah, you expect us to do this you can see." So, I learned very early on that my vision was my disability really.

Mark: Yeah, it's humbling isn't it?

Kimberly: Yeah, it really is so I said, "You know what? You're right. Roll away the mouse get rid of the monitor. Because that is how you're looking at screen." So, I need to be able to do that and so I think the biggest complement someone's ever given me the last 25 years is you're the most sited blind person I've ever met. I'm like, hu? And they said, "You can see and you can drive but on the computer you're like us. You use Keystrokes. You know you know how to do all this stuff just like us and you're not asking us to do something you can't do you can do it and so can we." And so I think that's the biggest thing with the university classes well is we've had so many people that have very limited to no vision take class saying, "Well you know I shouldn't take this its screen magnification but because it might background." Because I train the trainers to teach as a people have no vision as well and they learn the keystrokes because ninety-seven percent our software can be ran with keystrokes. ZoomText is keystroke accessibility. And, so it's really really cool and I have people that leave the class that have no vision and they say, " Kimberly, I have never been able to train with your software because I'm totally blind. Because of this class and the visual descriptions you gave, I can't work with low vision people and I'm so excited to be able to do that. And that makes me feel good.

Mark: And that now they're they're now empowered more than they were before.

Kimberly: Exactly

Mark: We're getting close to our time here. Is there anything else you wanna add? I'd love to know where people can see some of the stuff on the web.

Kimberly: If you go to our main site: www.aisquared.com and then we've go two tabs I wanna to introduce them to that they might not be aware of. The first one is learning. Then if they go to the learning tab from that then they can go to ZoomText University. And, we've got where we are listed. We've got about 12 classes list right now and then another very powerful area is the free live webinars which Derek mostly does. And then you can also get the recorded webinars. And, we've got a webinar on ZoomText University. We've got webinars on all of these reading tools for ZoomText Mac and Image Reader. Image Reader our new OCR product is so powerful. And, we'll be ready to release it - and actually recognizing multiple languages. Wo when it's going down and scanning - let say you had something that is German and French - it automatically detects that and changes the language and that will be out in our next release soon. So we've got so much powerful information for people have and if they have questions about where to find these things or how to get a hold of me, you know, anybody can do that it's real simple. I'm just kcline@aiquared.com or our main number 802-362-3612 and I'm extension 152 so, I'd love to answer any questions any that anybody has.

Mark: and we'll put all that information - all the URL's your contact information everything well put right in the show notes so if your listening to the podcast and you didn't catch that it will be available on the website along with the the podcast itself   We'll do that for you. Well anything else you need to add Kimberly?

Kimberly: No, just check us out. It an exciting time, all the new products, like I said, I'm glad you talked to Aaron about sitecues. Go to our website we've got a lot going on and I just really want people to know that we're company that cares. I always say, a company with a heart, and we're here to listen and, you know, we we're right in the middle of a  change in our website and to be are family of products that are out there and our new tagline is, We've got accessibility covered." And I think that says it all. We got it covered. The Mac the PC. Whether you are trying to use the web with sitecues. We've got you covered and we're here to help you empower you.

Mark: Great! Well thank you so much Kimberly. Really appreciate it... Really appreciate you being on with me and, like I said, we'll make sure we have all those notes in the in notes for everybody so you can check all that out there.

Kimberly: Alright thanks Mark.

Mark: You're welcome. This is Mark Miller thanking Kimberly Cline and reminding you to keep it accessible.

Announcer: The IAP Interactive Accessibility Podcast is brought to you by Interactive Accessibility the accessibility experts. You can find the Access Matters Blog at interactiveaccessibility.com/blog.

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