[bactttoma] Apple i pad brings easy reading to the blind

  • From: steven taylor <steven_taylor10@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: bactttoma@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2010 09:06:04 +1000

Taken from.


Apple's iPad Brings Easy Reading to the Blind
April 12, 2010 - 3:14 pm

Benjamin ClymerBio | Email
Benjamin Clymer is a freelance writer and founder of HODINKEE.com.  
Ask any PC-loving computer nerd why Apple products have become the de facto 
choice of the masses, and you’ll likely hear something like, “People buy Apple 
products because they’re pretty.” That may be true for many, but one group of 
consumers who care little for Apple’s prodigious aesthetics are the blind.

They care more about how Apple products actually work. And while theiPad may be 
Apple's most controversial launch in recent memory, the blind community is 
unanimous in its support. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) even 
released a statement last January praising the device.

What are they so excited about?

First, consider what an e-reader represents to the blind community. The concept 
of an affordable, portable device that allows the visually impaired to consume 
media easily and without special consideration is an exciting proposition, but 
one never fully realized. In fact, Amazon’s Kindle, which until the iPad’s 
release was the most acclaimed and full-featured e-reader, had high potential 
for capturing the hearts of the 314 million visually impaired persons around 
the world. Instead, Amazon failed to fully consider what would be required for 
a blind person to successfully navigate the Kindle’s menus without assistance. 
While magazines, books and newspapers had full voice integration, allowing easy 
listening of all text, Amazon provided no way to enter a publication from the 
Kindle’s home screen. What good is a reader to someone who is blind if it 
requires a seeing person to get to the first page, let alone turn that page?

Both the NFB and the American Council of the Blind have lambasted the Kindle, 
filing a lawsuit against Arizona State University, which had been part of 
Kindle’s pilot program to replace textbooks with the e-reader, and sending a 
formal complaint to the Justice Department insisting all Kindles be removed 
from five other universities testing the Kindle with their student body. Two 
other universities, Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at 
Madison, had previously told Amazon they would not order any Kindles until the 
text menus were fully accessible to the blind. Amazon has since released a 
statement saying the Kindle will be blind-friendly by this summer. It's too 
little, too late.

In stark contrast, all iPads have a standard application called VoiceOver, 
which allows for audible control of every single menu, even those included in 
third party applications. NFB has commended Apple for producing a device that 
is usable right out of the box for both seeing and the visually impaired alike. 
The NFB statement even mentions that the touch-screen “need not be a barrier” 
to the blind.

Computer nerds, tech columnists and the general public may not know where the 
iPad fits into the existing media consumption landscape--but the blind and 
visually impaired see it as the only e-reader worth owning. Call it further 
proof that Apple is more than just a pretty face.

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