This is it, the number one story on our year-end look at the most influencial, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2009. In addition to our own staff, we consulted with some industry experts including ACB Radio Main Menu's Jamie Pauls, the Blind Geek Zone's Rick Harmon, Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog, and the Fred's Head Companion's Michael McCarty to help create our list. Now, here it is, number 1.
You can hear more commentary, as we count down the top 11 live along with Jamie Pauls on Main Menu, repeating for the next 24 hours and then available on-demand on ACB Radio Mainstream.
Commentary for the number 1 story comes from Main Menu's Jamie Pauls. In 2009, Apple made its presence known among the blind community in a big way. Several models of the ever-popular iPod were released with varying degrees of accessibility built in, from limited spoken text-to-speech prompts to a full version of VoiceOver on board. In June, the iPhone 3GS became the first touch-screen device to be accessible without the need to purchase an additional screen reader. An article was published in the National Federation of the Blind's Braille Monitor that was highly critical of VoiceOver on the Mac, and the article galvanized loyal blind Mac users in a way nothing else could have. Rebuttals, demos, podcasts, and new articles ensued. Blind people began purchasing iPods, iPhones, and Mac computers in larger numbers than at any other time. The story of Apple's efforts to make their products accessible to the blind takes first-place honors in this year's survey of the top news stories of 2009, and by a wide margin at that. There are likely more chapters to come in this story, and 2010 could be a banner year for Apple among the blind community.
It was also one of the most covered stories of the year on Blind Bargains including the original iPhone 3GS story in June.
We would like to express our thanks and appreciation to everyone who offered rankings and commentary for this year's countdown. What will 2010 bring? We'll just have to wait and find out.Go to source
I agree completely with this as the #1 pick of 2009, and Apple deserves every bit of praise it receives for their innovative work; however, I find it unfortunate that frequently only the first article published by the Braille Monitor (and the subsequent outrage which some might claim boardered on the fanatical) without mentioning the second article. A second look at the VoiceOver can be found at http://www.nfb.org/images/nfb/Publications/bm/bm09/bm0909/bm090907.htm.
Jeff.young Saturday, 02-Jan-2010 12:37 AM ET:
Something just occurred to me. When the first article came out; I think it actually did more good for voiceover and the mac. Their was so much outrage that lots of people said, "I've got to get one of these and see what it's really like." I made the switch to apple products back in April and I haven't regretted it at all.
darknexus Saturday, 02-Jan-2010 06:59 AM ET:
I suspect the original article is cited the most because, even though the NFB did a second review, they never acknowledged their mistakes and inaccuracies in the first review and admitted them. They admitted the piece was controversial, but made it look like the readers were to blame instead of the falsehoods present in the review itself. The outrage was not because of the negative review but because of the blatant inaccuracies in it, as reviews (whether positive or negative) should always present the product as it is and be accurate regardless of the final conclusion. I, for example, do not like JFW at all and if I were to write a review of it the review would most likely be what most would consider negative. I would not, however, claim JFW was incapable (falsely so) and to do so would--and should--provoke the same outrage the NFB's first review of Voiceover did.
Blind Paladin Sunday, 03-Jan-2010 1:30 PM ET:
Valid points- as an iPhone owner myself I find Apple's innovation outstanding. I simply find it helpful when debates maintain a civil tone, regardless of error, rather then taking on an injured outraged tone. This debate is about technology, not religion or politics, but from some of the scathing disagreeable remarks I have read one would have thought the article was suggesting insert your least favorite political topic position here. If someone states a falsehood then one can simply state the facts to correct that person. This seems to have been done with the second article, and I find it disconcerting when the Braille Monitor is continually flogged for its "sins" rather then allowing the debate to continue in a civilized manner. I do hope the standard of Apple's accessibility continues and becomes the mainstream. Breaking the blind ghetto wide open is a wonderful thing.
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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.