Apple blind to iPhone accessibility?
I'm a bit of an Apple geek on the quiet, so when their sleek and shiny new iPhone was announced last week to whoops of delight, I'm afraid that I rather joined in the chorus of "I want one! Gimme one!" I'm ashamed to say that almost the last thing on my mind was how accessible it might be to blind and visually impaired users, considering that its operation relies almost entirely on touch-screen technology.
Fortunately, there are people out there in webland who are rather more clued-up about such things, as weblog currybetdotnet discussed yesterday. He points to a post on The Unofficial Apple Weblog which certainly doesn't mince its words as it asks: Does the iPhone shaft the blind?
But it's the comments after the entry that prove really shocking. Apple fans are known for their almost religious dedication to the brand, and some of them simply can't see the point in 'needlessly worrying' about blind and visually impaired phone users. Responses include:
"I don't know if there is a tactful way to say this, but, is it really Apple's responsibility to make sure of this? I mean c'mon. Starving children in Africa won't be able to use it either."
"Why would the blind want this phone as 90% of its function is visual?"
"I don't mean to be an ass, but who cares?"
"I can't imagine how people with significant visual impairment could use the iPhone. I also am very glad Apple didn't let that stop them from making the best phone interface they could for the rest of us."
"Dang! You're right! And people without fingers won't be able to use it either! Apple should just cancel the whole project ... If there's such a huge and desperate need for cutting edge phones for the blind, then someone can fill it and make a living doing so."
"Is Apple expected to make a touch screen that somehow implements Braille? Why stop at blind people? What about deaf people? Surely Apple was insensitive and forgot about them when deciding to make a PHONE or a device that has sound?"
"What about Stephen Hawking?! Did those insensitive swine at Apple ever consider Stephen Hawking? How on Earth will he ever use an iPhone? Never, that's how!
Beware, before you check out the entire thread of comments, that some of the opinions get a bit heated and that, consequently, some of the language gets a little, erm, colourful to say the least.