The iPhone is one of the most popular devices in not just the United States, but in other countries around the world. Everyone is raving about its sleek and stylish design, as well as its easy-to-use interface. iPhones are one of the hugest fads of all time, and everyone must have one in order to be cool and with the in crowd. Blind individuals are also raving about the iPhone. Not only do they get to enjoy all of what the iPhone has to offer, they also get to feel like they can be a part of society because they can chill with their friends and show off their iPhones, using the various features and applications to have fun and revolutionize the way they stay in touch with the world. Blind individuals do not have to feel excluded. Rather they are in the in crowd with everyone else, and the iPhone is just one more step toward acceptance of the blind into the rest of society. This is all made possible by Apple, who has been determined not to exclude the blind and the disabled when manufacturing their products. Blind individuals pay the same price as everyone else because they do not have to shell out any additional money in order to pay for assistive technology to make the phone accessible, and they are able to have an iPhone right out of the box and rock on!
The iPhone and Screen Reading Technology
The iPhone comes with its own built-in screen reading technology called VoiceOver. VoiceOver has long been a part of the OS on the Macs; however, Apple has made this revolutionary screen reading technology a part of the iPhone. VoiceOver on iPhones has enabled the blind to have experiences that no other screen reader has been able to make possible. For instance, while other screen readers are drowned out by the music that blind individuals may decide to listen to, VoiceOver automatically makes adjustments, so the volume of the music is lower than the screen reader. This will enable blind individuals to enjoy their tunes while at the same time, being able to still control the phone and its functions because they will still be able to hear VoiceOver speaking. VoiceOver also has different sound effects that enable the blind to know when the screen has been updated, when an application or program has opened or closed, and when a message is sent or received among many other alerts that are provided in order to make the phone simple and easy to use. Another feature that VoiceOver has that is neat that other commercial screen readers do not have is that they enable blind users to have a true picture of the screen. Rather than portraying the screen as just lists or menus, blind users can know where every item is truly positioned. For example, if there is an icon on the top left-hand corner of the screen, then blind users will find it there. If icons are laid out in grid format, blind users will also see it in that format (Apple Inc.).
VoiceOver is relatively easy to activate. There are two options for activating VoiceOver. One option for activation is that blind users can connect the iPhone to the computer and use iTunes to activate the VoiceOver software. This can be done without sighted assistance. The second option will require sighted assistance, as the blind user can have sighted people activate VoiceOver by going into the “Accessibility” menu on the phone itself. Either way, blind users can start using the iPhone in a few minute’s time with very little trouble at all (Apple Inc.).
The iPhone’s Touch Screen and Accessibility
While the touch screen has scared many blind people away from wanting to try out the iPhone, this feature is one of the most exciting and most innovative. Apple has made sure that when VoiceOver is activated, blind individuals can operate the touch screen with no difficulty at all. In order for blind individuals to know what options are available on the screen, all they must do is glide their finger over the screen. As the glide their finger over the screen, each option that their fingers are on is read to them. If users want a description of the option, all they must do is tap their finger over it once. If users want to select an option, then they must tap their fingers over it twice. If blind users want to scroll, that is no problem at all. All they have to do is flick three fingers in the way they wish to scroll. It is that simple (Apple Inc.).
As far as accessibility is concerned, Apple is doing everything right. Apple is now taking the lead in the electronics industry by seeing to it that the blind are not excluded. Because of this, many blind people can enjoy outstanding technology and actually relate to their sighted peers.
Apple Inc. “Accessibility Solutions for IPhones.” Apple.com. N.p., 2010. Web. 5 July 2010.