More on the iPhone...
- 22 Jan 07, 02:28 PM
Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone last week started discussions all over the internet. An unofficial Apple blog was perhaps the most controversial, shinning an unhealthy yellow spotlight onto attitudes towards and understanding of the visually impaired.
The original posting asked if any, “usability experts out there willing to weigh in on the Universal Access aspects of the iPhone and the lack thereof.”
It was a real eye-opener to see the hostility of the replies, as illustrated by the posting of coalxman, “I hate to do it to you, but this is a DUMB blog. Why would the blind want this phone as 90% of its function is visual?”
Perhaps to some extent this can be put down to excessive brand loyalty. And maybe there is nothing more upsetting than having a new product that excites you so much being criticised. But I’ve seen these kind of attitudes expressed before. I think that there is a lot of ignorance in the wider public about disability issues. I still occasionally get asked how the visually impaired used computers, for example.
It's funny that this should appear in the week when everyone in the U.K. has largely been appalled by Jade Goody’s bullying of Shilpa Shetty on Big Brother. There are similarities in the attitudes displayed here. For “Do Indians eat with their hands?” read, “Why would the blind want this phone?”
I can’t help but wonder if Apple’s designers in particular and most product designers in general would ask the same question. Perhaps that is why universal design is not more prevalent.
I think it is worth remembering that the iPhone is, er, a mobile phone. So there is no reason why someone with a visual impairment or a mobility impairment wouldn’t want it. Of course it is much more than a phone, in that you can download and watch video on it, listen to music and surf the net with it. But then, those are all things that someone with a visual or mobility impairment would want to do as well.
I actually don’t know – but if you do I’d be fascinated to hear – whether products like this are covered by legislation like the Disability Discrimination Act.
Apple or someone else could develop software for it and someone might come up with a clip-on keypad or something (mental note to self – patent that idea) making the iPhone accessible to all. But it would be great to see these kinds of products offer “off the shelf” accessibility.
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