We're continuing our annual look at the most influential, ground-breaking, or otherwise important stories of 2010. 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 and Ranger from the Ranger Station Blog to help create our list. We'll present one item every day until we reach number 1. Today, it's all about Apple.
Last year, Apple redefined the accessible smartphone market with the introduction of VoiceOver on it's iPhone 3GS. In fact, it made number 1 on our Top Stories of 2009.
Since then, Apple has included VoiceOver on it's iPad tablet computer, iPod Nano, Apple TV media receiver, and updated models of the iPhone and iPod touch.
short fashion. The iPad, in particular, is a great entry level Assistive Technology
device for Low Vision users. And the Apple TV could succeed in the Accessible Set
Top box market before anyone else gets their ideas out of the concept stage. My only
issue is that the iOS market is driven by the need to consume rather than produce.
Time will tell, along with the purchase of many Bluetooth keyboards and Braille Displays,
if we have a viable alternative to devices that have been traditionally used in employment
settings. I’m not suggesting that anyone toss their old style note taker out the
window yet, but be prepared to see many more up for sale in 2011."
Apple also deserves honorable mentions for adding bluetooth braille display support and keyboard navigation to it's iOS operating system. Apple's continued commitment toward accessibility lands at number 6 on this year's list. Category: Articles
While I certainly won't dispute Apple's accessibility efforts, I do need to point out one side of the argument that most people don't see. Apple have a well-documented history of going after anyone, in any way possible, that they believe they can claim has done patent infringement upon Apple. The trouble is, all of the accessibility features we so praise are patented. While this won't affect companies outside of the US for the most part, I do have to wonder. Will we ever see touch screen access from Google on Android with Apple holding the patents for accessible multi-touch? Will we ever see another accessible set top box while Apple holds the patents for controlling Voiceover via remote? I'm afraid that the gain in accessibility now will cost us a lot more in the long term with a company as controlling as Apple leading the way. Of course, this illustrates exactly how ridiculous software patents are, but as long as we're stuck with them here in the US, we should be worrying about how they might harm accessibility under Apple's direction.
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