As on time of this posting, I have 639 friends following me on Twitter and thank you all for being friends. I have an appeal to all of you.
NVDA is a free and open source screen reader that offers access to computers to visually impaired at no additional cost. Thanks to all the individuals and companies who have been supporting the project. To sustain the project and most importantly for this screen reader to continue to be available for free, it’s essential that NV Access gets more funding. Here is an open letter I have received in one of the mailing lists:
Dear Fellow NVDA User,
I’m writing to you to explain why our consistent contributions to NVAccess, and NVDA are important.
The mission of NV Access, the company that makes NVDA states:
We are dedicated to the ideal that access to technology should not incur an extra cost for blind and vision impaired users. We believe that blind and vision impaired people should be able to use any type of technology for the same cost as their sighted peers. To that end, our primary aim is to support projects which provide free and open source computer software solutions that enable this accessibility.
== My Story ==
I want to say what NVDA means to me. I live in the United States. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to be in a position to have a government agency, combined with corporate funds available to me. If I had been unable to purchase my screen reader and keep up with the costs of the maintenance of that screen reader at the time when I first became employed, I would never have been able to afford to buy what I needed to get my first job, and I’d probably be living alone, with little to no money to follow my dreams.
Now, because I have a screen reader, and the funding from the company I work for, I can maintain my way of life, take care of my family, and have some extra money left over.
And with NVDA, I now have a free alternative, which in many ways is better than the screen reader my company maintains for me.
Besides that, I have direct access to the developers of NVDA, NV Access. And if I have the means and the time, I can contribute to NVDA by donating, testing, writing documentation, translating NVDA into a language, answering questions on the support list, and telling the NVDA story to those who will listen.
Because I’m a musician, who would rather be playing music full time than doing what I do now, I understand what it means to have given up what I love to do in order to do what I have to do to feed my family. It’s the difference between night and day. Few of us have the joy of being able to have fun at work. Mick and Jamie are now able to do what they love to do for a living, fulfilling the mission of NV Access, the company that makes and maintains NVDA.
If my steady contribution can help keep them working on NVDA, then, vicariously, I can have the joy of knowing that they are doing what they really want to do.
And selfishly, I get to benefit from that small donation.
== Where Does The Money Go? ==
Like many others, I want to know where my money is going when I donate. For anyone who donates, this is a fare question to ask. Let me put this into perspective.
I work for a recruiting company in the United States. The starting salary of an entry-level, full time employee in a professional position is about 30,000 USD. If the individual also needs to have the health insurance to take care of the average family, that raises the cost to the company who employs that individual to about 45,000 USD.
Part of the money we donate keeps Mick and Jamie working on NVDA for us.
Jamie and Mick would love to be able to say that they are pulling in 90,000 USD to work full time on something they love. That would be a great foundation on which they could count to keep NVDA alive and growing.
== A Myth About Big Donations ==
When I considered donating to NVDA, I said to myself “Why should I contribute? Mick and Jamie are doing fine with the funding they have been getting from foundations and corporations.” When I started to check to see if this was true, though, I found out how wrong I was. According to The Foundation Center, at http://foundationcenter.org/, less than 17% of all giving to worthy organizations comes from foundations and corporations. And much of the time, there are great peaks and valley s in that giving. That means that NV Access must constantly attempt to raise funds to keep itself alive, and that Mick and Jamie are under constant stress both because they have to spend time to raise funds on which to live, and because of the peaks and valleys in funding. And assuming that they have the most supportive families and friends in the world, their ability to spend as much time as possible on making NVDA what it needs to be suffers from the time spent away from working on it, and from the stress of the conflict between doing what they love and doing what they have to do to take care of their loved ones.
== We Are Very Important ==
To totally spell that out, NV Access, given the above figures, would rely on 83% of its donations from individuals like you and I.
You and I can make a huge difference, if we will.
Let me use myself as an example. The software maintenance agreement for my screen reader would cost me approximately 130 USD per year. Now I’m not that good at math, so bear with me. That’s something like 12 USD per month. That breaks down to about 3 USD per week. In some places I might go to eat, that’s half the price of a desert. So if I go out to eat once a week, and I go out to eat more times than that, and I skip desert, I can afford to donate 12 USD a month for the use of NVDA with no problem, and I get a little better health in the bargain.
Here’s another example that fits my situation. I like to buy coffee in the lobby where I work. I’m even a card-carrying, cup wielding member of the coffee club they have going down there. That makes the price of coffee 1.25 USD for me. I drink at least a cup a day, sometimes more. If all I do is give up one, single cup of coffee per week, which is probably bad for me, that works out to about 5 USD per month. I can definitely afford that, and I also get better health in the bargain.
Now, let’s see. Can I put a price on access to my computer? What do I get out of being able to use my computer? I get a job that allows me to feed myself, my family, my two dogs, my cat, and pay for my house, my car, all those meals out, and lots more. And all I have to do is give up one desert a week or a cup of coffee a week, depending on how much I want to donate. If I lose the full time use of the screen reader I talked about above, I still have NVDA. If I lose my job, I still have NVDA to help me get another one.
If I lose my computer, and can’t use NVDA on it, I can still go to the library and carry NVDA on a flash drive with me, and still have a way to help myself get back on my feet. How can I put a price on that?
== What About You? ==
Now, let’s take the community of NVDA users as a whole. Let’s say that the entire community of NVDA users gets to benefit from two releases of NVDA per year, which is the norm. For this example, we are totally eliminating corporate and foundational giving, and we are eliminating the higher numbers in my example.
For this example, let’s assume that the whole NVDA community consists of
25,000 individuals who donate not 5 USD per month, but who donate 5 USD per release. If that happens, NV Access would get 125,000 per year, which is 35,000 more than the salary figures I quoted above as that of two entry level professional employees in the United States. If the NVDA community consists of 25,000 individuals and everyone downloads twice a year and gives
5 USD per download, NV Access would get 250,000 per year.
Now, as I freely admit, I am bad at math, but that makes my head swim.
Let me go a little further. Let me assume that we use the money I talked about above to employ Mick and Jamie full time. NV Access could take the money and not only employ Mick and Jamie, but also employ two other people and pay each person 62,500 USD. What would those other employees do for us?
One might be a third programmer, and that would exponentially increase the speed and efficiency of NVDA development. Another could be an administrator, possibly answering tickets, handling customer inquiries , maintaining the web site, and who knows what else, to take the pressure off of the developers. The result, still more efficiency and a much better NVDA.
== Recap ==
Let me emphasize.
- We all give not 12, but 5 USD per month.
- We do it every month.
- No corporate or foundational giving whatsoever.
My math can’t handle the amount of money that would generate. I just blew out my brain cells.
Can you see how powerful you and I can be if we just will decide to give 5 USD per month? I’m definitely having trouble seeing what we can do together.
But the point is also this. How much are we getting back for that little investment? There’s no possible way I can put a price on that. And the feeling we get from knowing that for 5 USD a month we can use our computer and do what we have or want to do for fun, and to have the joy of being able to freely contribute to a great screen reader, and a great cause, is much better, and more lasting than a little bit of caffeine, which is probably bad for us, and only lasts for a few hours.
What do you think about this? Will you help me? Will you help Mick and Jamie? Will you help yourself? It’s so easy to set up a donation of 5 USD per month, and you will hardly feel it. You may not feel it at all.
If you are reading this right after you get paid, or right after your money comes in, go and set up a donation now. If you’re reading this, and your funds are low, set up a reminder for yourself to set up that donation for the time you know you will be getting more funds.
Either way, do it now.
Isn’t it easy to be so powerful?
You have the power. Do it now.
Thanks for reading.
A picture can say a thousand words, but whether they’re the right words is another matter
So, that said, you are 639 people and 640 including me; can each one of us contribute Indian Rupees 500 (Five Hundred only) and that will become Indian Rupees 3,20,000/- which I guess would be a good contribution. Visit NV Access Donation page to make your donation.
Oh! yes, how about spreading this word to your followers, I can’t count the numbers, but that would perhaps bring in a tremendous support.
thank you all in advance for your support. Good luck NV access Team!