Cassidy: Following up on past columns

By Mike Cassidy mcassidy@mercurynews.com Posted: 07/12/2009 07:50:17 AM PDT Updated: 07/12/2009 08:01:47 AM PDT

Today I'm following up on three columns — two stories of generosity and one about the damage of layoffs — that produced surprising postscripts.

Jon Bjornstad, for instance, has been globe-trotting since I wrote in May about his free software program that helps quadriplegics use computers. It started with a phone call from a Saratoga woman.

"The very day that your article appeared, I got a call from Ana Cook," says Bjornstad, whose Sue Center program translates a user's head movements into mouse maneuvers. "She said she had a friend in Croatia who was paralyzed and she thought from reading your article that her friend might be able to use the software."

Bjornstad, a Santa Cruz software consultant, met with Cook and her husband, Roy. They talked about the possibilities. The Cooks offered to pay for Bjornstad's trip to Croatia to install the program. And so in mid-June, all three of them were off.

The installation took about a week and a half and required a good deal of translation, which Ana Cook, a native of Croatia, was able to provide. From there, Bjornstad was on to England to talk with computer accessibility experts. You can read his account at www.suecenter.org/stanka.