IS the iPhone A Threat to Access Technology Vendors

Thanks  to Ron Graham from the AccessAbility Blog for giving RMM a shoutout!


He pointed us to a blog post by Marcus over at Engel’s Ensights titled

Pardon My Geekiness.


Ok, first, a lesson to all, never ever apologize for your geekiness! I don’t care what kind of Geek you are, it’s all good!


Marcus is trying to get Apple to develop an application to read books from the NLS. While I will definitely support the move and send my email as suggested, chances are that such an application will come from a independent developer.


This got me thinking   about the impact the iPhone and future accessible mainstream products can have on the Access Technology Industry.


Now, I‘ve never been shy about expressing my devotion for my Vicky known to most as the Victor Reader Stream, by HumanWare.

However, HumanWare, who is also in the process of developing a screen reader application  for the Blackberry, has to be a little concerned about the potential of the iPhone. The very well known Access Technology company offers devices specifically built for people who are Visually Impaired, Blind and Deaf-Blind


And then, In walks the Apple iPhone. For less than the price of the Victor Reader Stream the iPhone can potentially give access to features offered by almost all of HumanWare’s catalog. Oh yes, plus a cell phone.


Let me be very clear here, I have no hate for HumanWare whatsoever.  I think they build solid products.


A few months ago I wrote about features I would like to see in the next version of the Victor Reader Stream. It just so happens, all are in the iPhone. Oh yes, plus a cell phone.


  • Clock
  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • Web Browser
  • Pod catcher


HumanWare and others offer great Notetakers but they start at around $1500 for the low end model.


For users who are blind and visually impaired, pairing a Bluetooth keyboard With the iPhone will greatly improve note taking. For those who use Braille Displays, Apple’s Leopard  already offers support for many popular devices on the market. If these can be ported over to the iPhone, OMG!


The reality of the Access Technology Industry is that state agencies who often pay for much of the technology, will probably continue to purchase products from the traditional AT vendors. Since I haven’t actually got my hands on the iPhone yet, I can’t really discuss the associated learning curve. But, if the hype we often hear about Apple is real, those not working with state agencies will have affordable options.


Now all we need are Apple Biter’s.


For those who may not be familiar with the expression, a Biter is a copier, someone who forgoes originality for imitation.  While the iPod was not the first MP3 Player on the market, other companies began biting Apple’s style. I like to think I am in touch with those in the Blind community and those who believe in accessibility , so I think it is safe to say that we really hope other cell phone manufacture’s  begin imitating Apple’s accessibility initiative.


So to Nokia, Blackberry Palm, and any consumer product companies for that matter, go ahead, bite the Apple.

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