Apple’s announcement that VoiceOver, there built in screen reader, is included in the latest version of the iPhone has the blind community buzzing.
Accessibility built in, I love it! I’m hoping to get my hands on one to test, especially since my current AT&T contract is expiring in August. More to come on that soon.
The news got me thinking about what this development can possibly mean for accessing printed materials and more.
You may recall, Amazon caved in to pressure from the Author’s Guild following their protest that the Text to Speech function included in the Kindle violated audio book copyright. Right now publisher’s have the final decision whether a print impaired person will have access to their book. Random House having the not so honorable distinction of being the first publishing house to basically say, F you blind people – that’s “forget you” of course!.
However, Amazon does offer the Kindle iPhone app. Based on the promotional text, a Kindle isn’t required.
The code turning on/off the TTS is specific to the Kindle. As long as Apple doesn’t cave in to publisher’s a person who is blind owning an iPhone could potentially have access to books as soon as they are released.
In addition to the Amazon Kindle app, other eBook apps are available.
With so many developer’s coding for the iPhone, I thought I’d start planting the seed for a few other apps.
With the built in camera included in the phone it will be nice to see a developer offer an OCR application allowing a user to snap a picture of a printed document and translate the graphic into text to be read using VoiceOver.
Turn by turn pedestrian based GPS – self explanatory. While there is an application on the market available for Windows Mobil based phones, it’s pretty expensive.
A Bar code reader to translate product information including things like price quantity and other information currently not available to an individual without sighted assistance or a separate device.
With that said, here’s my pitch for the next Apple commercial;
A man or woman, with a white cane, holding an iPhone up to an item in a supermarket
A family sitting in a restaurant with Dad listening to VoiceOver reading the menu after he takes a quick snapshot
A young woman in business attire using a white cane and receiving GPS instructions as she navigates her way to a business meeting
Following the three scenarios we hear the narrator say;
“Accessibility, there’s an app for that!”