The Sero App: Available for Your Listening Pleasure
One can find a plethora of apps and websites that broadcast music, sports, and talk shows. Many are excellent resources providing seemingly endless entertainment. As good as these services are, they, with just a few exceptions, fail to include audio with a special interest to or created by people who are blind and visually impaired. One app seeks to change that.
Sero, formerly iBlink Radio, contains several types of information and resources especially tailored to people who are blind or anyone who wishes to know more about blindness issues and concerns. The app, developed by the assistive technology company called Serotek Corporation, offers both free content and paid/premium content.
Thanks to Serotek’s technical support, here is a brief history of Sero:
The iBlink Radio app was first published to the iOS App Store in the fall of 2009. We released the first Android version in the spring of 2011. In 2012, we extended the iOS version with access to the paid subscription service, which was then known as SAMNet (System Access Mobile Network). The Android version got a make-over in late 2013 and limited access to SAMNet in mid-2014. We announced last year that we would rebrand iBlink and SAMNet as Sero. (Sero was released in September).
Here is a summary of the categories of 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, if you want to find something quickly, you can type into the search field which you reach when you first open the app.
Here is a listing of some of the categories of Sero’s premium content; 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, add stories to a section called My Newspaper, bookmark sites, and save information from the app that is important to you. If you wish, you may still search for content. The search feature is especially useful for locating free content that is placed elsewhere once the premium content is unlocked.
A Sero subscription costs $16.95 per month or $149 per year. Or, for $21.95 per month or $240 per year, you can get the Sero subscription plus access to Serotek’s DocuScan Plus for Windows and Mac and their System Access screen reader for Windows. Read about these two pieces of software on the Serotek website.
Serotek wants people to make informed decisions about their 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 14 days and then purchase it if you wish. The other great thing about the trial is that no credit card is required to receive it, and you do not have to contact Serotek if 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 screen of Sero. Enter your information, and create the account. You should receive an email fairly quickly. Open it and click the included link to verify your email address. If you fail to do so within three days, your account is deleted automatically.
When you view the available material—free or premium—the content is listed alphabetically. For example, as you flick to the right on the screen showing free content, you hear the app say: “Blindness resources” … “Community radio” … etc. Double tap on the category you want to explore, and its selections appear alphabetically as well. Sero is available in the iOS, Mac, and Android App Stores.
Normally I advise people to search for an app in the appropriate App Store instead of trying to find its link because this procedure usually is easy to do. In this case, however, you must search diligently as there are other apps with Sero in their name. These apps have nothing to do with the field of blindness, and some are apps you must pay to download. To know if you are downloading the correct app, you should hear, “Sero, formerly iBlink 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 app store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sero-formerly-iblink-radio/id332027117?mt=8 or the Mac App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sero-formerly-iblink-radio/id905524144?mt=12 or on the Google Play store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.serotek.iblink&hl=en.