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Do You Hear What I Hear?|Music and Visual Art

Blake Roberts

Blake Roberts an expert on DECtalk programming

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Do You See What I See?

In 1962, the song Do You Hear What I Hear? became an instant success when its lyrics asked us to hear, see, listen and “Pray for Peace, People Everywhere.” 1962 was a time of fear and uncertainty–much like 2014.

Today, as the year is coming to an end, I invite you to journey virtually to the Middle East–to the land of shepherds and millions of stars Listen and See this new version of a holiday classic.

‘Tis a Season of Magic

Blake Roberts and Pastor Snoopy Botten are musicians and visual artists who have collaborated on many CDs. Both are artists who inspire us to reach for the stars.

Their magic is their vision, talent and… a speech synthesizer with DECtalk software which helps people who can’t sing with words–sing with tech. Those who can’t see–paint with tech.

The result is poetry in motion.


Do You Hear What I Hear? |Music and Visual Art

Do you hear what I hear?

In Blake’s Words:

Dectalk is a speech synthesizer that can be programmed to sing. I like Dectalk because I enjoy making it sing. Additionally, an almost infinite number of voices can be created with it.

Snoopi is a good friend of mine whom I met on the Internet several years ago. We enjoy working together on the CDs Snoopi has produced over the past couple of years. I did all the DECtalk programming and Snoopi mixed my DECtalk file with the karoake track.

My friend Snoopi is the same Snoopi you know on Facebook.

Snoopi programs Dectalk because it lets people who can’t talk sing like everyone else. I program Dectalk because I enjoy it.

I program songs at the same level of excellence as Snoopi. In fact, I am slightly better in some areas. Snoopi is the best Dectalkist in the world, I am second best. We never intended to be first and second best, we just are.

In summary, programming Dectalk is my favorite thing to do. Blake

More information about Blake and Snoopi:

Click here for”> for an article about this unique team.

If you would like to contact Blake Roberts go to:

If you would like to contact Snoopi Botten go to: or email Snoopi at

The video below is about Snoopi. Imagine, he sang the National Anthem for a professional baseball game. Don’t you love his confidence and spirit? His goal is to get a Grammy–and I think he will.

Keep Climbing and Singing: Onward and Upward
All my best,


What do you hear? See? Think? Want to discuss?

What did you think of Blake and Snoopi’s version of “Do you hear what I hear?” Do you know anything about DECtalk? or other programs to help people with disabilities talk/sing/dance/make beautiful art? I was struck how their work makes me listen and see differently, how it helps me see “goodness and light.” What about you? Do you know anyone who might also be interested in collaborating with Snoopi or Blake? Does their can-do spirit remind you of Aimee Mullins?

Funny Ads| What do you think?

The Norwegian Association of the Blind made these commercials.

What do you think?


All right, there is no excuse for not having a comment on these videos. After you laugh, think a couple minutes and then share your thoughts.

Are they Funny? Creative? Good Advertising?

Are they Insulting? Embarrassing? Bad Public Relations?

Does this ad compaign promote inclusion? normalization? stereotypical thinking?

Do you think these ads will create more jobs? Change stereotypes?

Enhance the image of people who are blind?

Does it make a difference that the commercials were created by the The Norwegian Association of the Blind?

Does it make a difference that the commercials used actors who were really blind?

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward

All my best,


Technology Act: Just for the Deaf and Blind?

21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act

No one in my family is Deaf or Blind. So, why should I care that President Obama just signed new legislation forcing media and technology companies to make their products accessible?

Isn’t this just another example of more government rules and regulations? Big Brother intruding into private business? Government ruining all our lives with more paperwork and administrative costs? Government taking away our freedom?

New Laws don’t just drop from the satellites.

I was not involved in the Technology Act. But I have been involved in several other pieces of legislation. And believe me; the process is both tedious and thorough. As it should be!

Before any piece of legislation goes before the Congress and ultimately the President, there is a process. In my opinion, there are usually so many stakeholders and differing opinions it is a miracle anything gets done.

But this is a democracy–government by the people, for the people. So the people of all genders, races, economic groups, political affiliations, and all degrees of ability or disability are involved. Finding consensus on the ideas, then the language, the drafts, the compromises, the redrafts… everything takes forever. This is serious business.

Which makes sense. If we have rules and regulations for a simple baseball game, then certainly any legislative body needs a fair playing field to hear the concerns of its citizens.

I’ve been involved in several legislative committee meetings and public hearings. And down to the stop watches for speeches and comments–every procedural safeguard is specific.

Is there a need? What does the current law say? What have the courts ruled? Is this new law consistent with the constitution? How many people will benefit? What are the costs? What are the downsides? How will this impact business? Is the proposed technology available and possible?

When the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) was passed in 1990, it cited the fourteenth amendment of the constitution and assured people with disabilities the same protections as every other citizen of our country. At first there was tremendous backlash. How dare the government force us to allow people with disabilities into our private businesses? I spoke about some of our family experiences before ADA in my article “America the Beautiful” (click here). I also spoke about the 20 year anniversary of ADA (click here).

This technology act was not necessary.

This technology act would not have been necessary if the people and companies would have voluntarily served the needs of people with disabilities under the letter and spirit of ADA. Imagine over 60 million prospective customers who needed this modified technology–and business ignored them?

They forced these citizens and their families/advocates to have to get a congressional act passed because the companies were too stubborn, or narrow-minded or whatever. It could have been different. It could be different the next time businesses find another loophole and we are forced to seek yet another piece of legislation.

According to the Associated Press (click here)

Nondisabled people stand to benefit, too. They may find the devices and screens easier to use.

The law sets federal guidelines that require the telecommunications industry to:

_Make getting to the Internet easier by improving the user interfaces on smart phones.

_Provide audible descriptions of on-screen action to help the blind more fully enjoy television.

_Add captions to online TV programming to help the deaf.

_Make the equipment used for Internet telephone calls compatible with hearing aids.

_Add a button or other switch to television remote controls for simpler access to closed captioning on television.

Every time I go into a restaurant and see the closed-captioning words scrolling across the screen–I think of ADA. Every time I see a parent push her baby stroller up a curb cut, or see shopping carts going down a ramp, or customers riding an elevator–I think of ADA. Every time I go into a restroom and there is a stall wide enough your knees don’t touch the door–I think of ADA.

The difference between a person having a disability and being handicapped (click here) often is related to the technology and adaptations available.

People with disabilities have helped Velcro come out of the therapy closets, they have helped zippers be sewed into pants, and they have influenced packaging which makes it easier for all of us to open jars and bottles. The artificial replacement arms, legs, hips and other prosthetics were all first designed for wounded soldiers or people with disabilities–now the general population has better lives because of their pioneer efforts.

Who knows where the technology advances from this legislation might lead us? People who are “temporarily-able-bodied” today, might find at some future time, they need a cell phone or TV changer that has the modifications. It will be there because thousands of advocates worked to make it happen.

As our USA population is aging and needing more modifications, accommodations and universal design, we need to thank the hard work of people with disabilities, their families and advocates. As President Obama said, “They refused to accept the world as it is. The Disability Rights Movement is intertwined with American Progress.”

So, yes. This is more government regulation. Thank God and thank the USA.

What do you think? Make a comment.

In the last month we have seen the passage of Rosa’s Law, the Christopher & Dana Reeves Living with Paralysis Law and this Technology Act. Is the government acting on behalf of its vulnerable citizens, or is it over-governing and taking away our freedoms?

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.

All the best,

Day 29 of our Chris Brogan’s Every-Day-For-30-Days Blogging Challenge Follow us on Twitter #CB30BC

Alison Golden of The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman is my partner in this challenge: (click here to check out her new post.)