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Stevie Wonder speaks out about touchscreens

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Gids | 14:27 UK time, Monday, 12 January 2009

Stevie Wonder has spoken out about blind people's access to the latest gadgets which use touchscreens. Appearing at the CES conference in Las Vegas he said:

"We don't want to hold up technological progress. What we're saying is, think about the interface and set it up in such a way that it's simple.

Which sounds very sensible. The superstar is already said to be using a Blackberry and a talking iPod Nano. But, as I've talked about previously on this blog, touchscreens pose a particular challenge as they don't offer the tactile feel of devices with buttons.
The good news for Stevie and others is that there is lots of interesting work happening on this front. In a fascinating piece, published last week in the New York Times, blind Google engineer TV Raman described a system he has developed for the G1 smartphone which puts a dial pad on the screen wherever he touches it. Whilst Nokia are working on a so-called 'Haptic' touchscreen, which combines a touch controls with 0.1mm of screen travel to create what is described as a "real-keyboard touchscreen experience". So it seems gadget makers are beginning to respond to Stevie's plea but there's still a long way to go. Read more about Stevie Wonder's appearance in The Register.


  • Comment number 1.

    It's encouraging to hear Google and Nokia are on the case with researching this. I wonder when/whether other companies are doing so - microwaves, washing machines etc often have touch screens these days. True you can usually get cheaper products that don't but what if a) you want the features on the more expensive product or b) the technology gets cheaper/for some other reason touch screens get put on the cheaper products too...?

  • Comment number 2.

    It's great that there are people who are able to voice concerns over technology. It's all too easy for the blind to be ignored.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think the more when they do advances to technology like the I-phone and the new Blackberry, they are not really thinking about the fact that people with sight problems are going to have difficulty useing them. I think the excitement of a new project and idea, then watching it actually come to life, will cause many inventors to overlook the fact that people will not be able to use them. I am sure they did not do it on purpose. I'm glad they are at least looking into doing something about it.

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  • Comment number 4.

    I often discuss the accessibility issues for websites and technology on my blog at Bluelight SEO

    It is something that I believe all designers and inventors need to bear in mind when accessing their products or website.

    One thing I talk about a lot is the use of alt attributes on websites, for me this is an important website tag that is more often than not ignored.


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