Before I started Serotek, I worked as a consultant doing scripting, computer training, and various other activities to ensure that jobs were accessible for blind people. I wanted to make sure that not only could they do the initial job for which they were hired, but that they had a career path for advancement. As I did this, I noted over and over again the steep learning curve for being proficient at using a computer efficiently with a screen reader. At the time, the Internet was gaining more and more traction and I knew that in the online world, blind people would be on equal footing with their sighted counterparts if they had the skills to participate. The problem was that many blind people did not have the computer skills to engage in the online world, nor did they have the money to purchase the necessary technology. With that in mind, I founded Serotek and created the Freedombox, which was a computer you could speak to in natural language in order to do certain tasks. In no time, blind people who were initially terrified of technology were shopping, sending email, browsing news and a host of other things. Since then, the business has expanded considerably to include a wide range of products to fit every lifestyle, to be used by those who are tech savvy and those who are not. Seroteks ultimate goal is to bring the concept of universal design in to the mainstream, such that assistive technology is no longer necessary and everyone, regardless of disability, can use off-the-shelf products to accomplish their tasks.
I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and have been in business since I was very young. Some of my business ventures, such as Serotek, have been directed specifically at the blind community, but many others have been mainstream. In the case of Serotek, my blindness was a definite advantage. I and the majority of my staff are blind, and when we design products, we do so from the perspective of what we as blind people want and need. I can't speak to any disadvantages as a blind business owner. If I want to create something, the only barriers and misconceptions I have to overcome are my own and I eagerly accept that challenge.
My advice is that if you have a dream, don't let anyone or anything stand in the way of your pursuing that dream. Don't stand by and wait for someone else to realize your vision of the future. To make sure that vision becomes reality, you have to face the challenges, and enjoy the triumphs of making it happen.