Blind Bargains

An Apology, and the Announcement of 2011 Blind Bargains Access Award Winners

No, your clocks and calendars are not deceiving you, and you’re not living in a time warp. Amidst the busyness caused by CSUN, summer conventions, and Black Friday, we forgot to do something very important. Before continuing, I would like to personally apologize for not publishing the results of the 5th annual Blind Bargains Access Awards. Truthfully, it was an item on the perpetual to-do list that deserved far more attention than it was given, and the lack of timely results is something for which I take full responsibility. The winners for the awards, however, should not be diminished, and I hope you will join me in recognizing their achievements. Also, watch for a companion piece, as I feel it’s time to closely examine the format for the awards going forward.

The 5th Annual Blind Bargains Access Awards recognizes the best products, websites, stores, and people in the blind community. Open nominations were held, and then visitors voted from the top nominees in each category. Nearly 500 people participated in the nomination and voting rounds.

In results that probably come as a complete surprise to no one, Apple improved on its outstanding performance from the 2010 awards and took home honors in several categories. The iPhone 4S won Best New Product or Inovation and Best Hardware product while both VoiceOver (Best Screen Reader) and Apple (Best Company) took home their second consecutive honors in their respective categories. Clearly, the influence and dominance of the iPhone and its related family of products cannot be understated. Apple was the first to include a free and bundled access solution in its smart phones, and its legion of fans and loyalty amongst the blind community is a direct result of this.

The success of Apple also translated into victories for apps and websites which are closely related to the iPhone. AppleVis took home honors for Best Website while its companion @applevis Twitter account won Must-follow Personality. The site is often referred to as the go-to place for accessible app reviews, news, and updates. The late Steve Jobs took home Person of the Year honors, honoring a legacy which spanned nearly 40 years.

Continuing with the Apple theme, newcomer Ananse Productions took home the Best Accessible Games honor with its addictive game Stem Stumper. The game was released at a time when few accessible options existed for mobile platforms and served as an example for other developers. Stem Stumper was also released to the Android platform. Finally on the mobile front, the LookTel Money Reader won the Best Mobile App category, a new addition to the 2011 awards. Previously, currency identifiers often cost a blind person $100 or more, a barrier which was swiftly broken by the aforementioned app which was available for just a few bucks.

Also of note, Independent Living Aids becomes the only entry to win the same award for all five years as it once again took charge in the Best Store category. Their selection of blindness and low vision items at reasonable prices is respected by many. The SeroTalk Podcast took the honor for Best Podcast or Radio Show for the second year in a row. Part of the SeroTalk Podcast Network, it offers a regular look at technology and trends from a blindness perspective.

Finally, the popular Skype client GWConnect was the winner in the Best Software category. The free ad-supported program offers an accessible interface for the much-maligned Skype client. Produced by GW Micro, the makers of the Window-Eyes screen reader, it is compatible with a variety of Windows screen readers and ads can be removed for a small subscription fee.

Please take a moment to congratulate all the winners. For a complete list of winners and nominees, visit: Category: *Site News

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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.

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