Swimming in the Kool-Ade

In case you missed the flurry of press releases and general buzz
around the blinkosphere, Apple Inc. has continued its commitment to
universal design out-of-the-box with the largest number of accessible
products announced in a three week period. that I can remember These
include the brand new and much more powerful VoiceOver in the Snow
Leopard operating system upgrade, a highly improved VoiceOver on the
iPhone in its general purpose 3.1 release and a whole new and improved
iPod line of products all with a stripped down VoiceOver included.
Apple has shipped something like five new mainstream products that we
blinks can enjoy without sighted assistance as soon as we take them
out of their packaging.

I don’t want to spend any time or space here in the blog describing
the new features as I may mix up what is in which product and I will
undoubtedly leave out someone’s favorite feature or most annoying
bug. I will repeat the economic argument I made in the last blog post
and talk a little about my attitude lately.

On the financial front, all of Apple’s new line of products come to
people with disabilities with the accessibility built in at the
factory. These are mainstream products so we get to enjoy the
economies of scale that have forever existed outside the access
technology world. Using the universal design metaphor, though, lets
us choose whether or not to buy a product without even contemplating
the cost of the AT needed to make it useful. So, the Snow Leopard
upgrade costs us 30 bucks, the new fully accessible iPod Shuffle costs
only 60 smackers and so on. A new Macintosh laptop costs less than a
single JAWS license and the iPhone is incredibly usable and so are
many of the popular applications that are available for less than five
dollars and some for free. The out-of-pocket costs are minimal.

Back in the sixties, Esquire magazine featured a cover that depicted
the great pop artist Andy Warhol swimming in a can of Campbell’s
Tomato Soup. Andy loved the image and kept copies of the cover around
in The Factory until his death.

If someone were to PhotoShop me in a glass of Apple grape Kool-Ade, it
would not be an inaccurate representation. I am overwhelmingly
impressed by everything Apple has done over the past year as regards
features that people with vision can use if they so choose. This
stuff is cool but not without flaw but I don’t want to list bugs here
as this item is about products released in a condensed period of time
and not a review of said products, some of which (the iPods) I haven’t
even touched yet.

So where is the cynical, crusty old hacker jerk BlindChristian? Well,
I fell into a swimming pool of grape Kool-Ade and while I’d like to
get out and turn on the grumpy old self, I find that as soon as the
cynicism rises, Apple does some kind of minor update that fixes some
problem I find annoying and their bug fix turn around is pretty amazing.

Also, from the start of BlindConfidential I have promoted the concept
of access technology being built into mainstream products to provide
the numbers of units needed to keep the costs under control. Apple is
doing this. One might also ask if Microsoft’s new attention to and
financing of NVDA might be there answer to a no-cost blindness
solution. VO, however, has all sorts of slick documentation,
tutorials and a hefty number of “experts” in its user community
available to answer questions for others who need help. I’m pretty
sure NVDA has a good community of users as well but all of the slick
documentation and tutorials do not seem to exist.

So, c’mon in, the Kool-Ade feels great when one swims in it.


Look for a cynical, Gonz Blinko post soon.

— End

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I'm an accessibility advocate working on issues involving technology and people with print impairment. I'm a stoner, crackpot, hacker and all around decent fellow. I blog at this site and occasionally contribute to Skepchick. I'm a skeptic, atheist, humanist and all around left wing sort. You can follow this blog in your favorite RSS reader, and you can also view my Twitter profile (@gonz_blinko) and follow me there.

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