IPhone OS 4.0 Offers Braille Support

IPhone OS 4.0 Offers Braille Support

For the first time in history, a mainstream product that one can buy off the shelf offers Braille support in its operating system, making it truly accessible to those with blindness. For once in a lifetime, we do not have to pay for a blind-specialty product to get the job done. Apple’s first kick at the money-hungry blindness product vendors was the introduction of Voiceover on its mobile phones, taking out the need for Mobile Speak, leaving the consumer with an extra 300 dollars to spend on life’s affairs. However, AT&T offers its customers Mobile Speak for a steeply discounted price of $89.00. Still, that’s an extra cost, along with the Windows Mobile or simbian device that you purchase. Don’t get me wrong, some people may prefer this choice because of the following:

  1. A keyboard, offering a tactile interface and screen reader-like commands, which is familiar to the blind community.
  2. No need to sync with ITunes. Just connect the phone to the computer, and if you have Windows 7, the connection will automatically set itself up with a windows mobile device. Simbian takes a bit more work. However, ITunes is a great program even if you don’t have an IPhone.

Still, you pay extra. With the IPhone, Voiceover comes standard out-of-the-box, no software to install on the phone. Just sync it with ITunes, check the box which says “Enable Voiceover” and it’s a go. This is why I am thinking about buying the IPhone. The only hesitation for me is the learning curve of using a touch screen to accomplish tasks, along with typing with a keyboard on a screen, no buttons. However, I believe that a Bluetooth keyboard is sold, so I’ll check into that.

It seems that I’ve gotten a bit off track, so back to Braille support. What is Braille support, you ask? Braille support means that you can connect a Bluetooth refreshable Braille display to the device. Now, of course, you’ll have to be lucky enough to have one in your possession, if not, they can be quite costly, up to 3 to 5 grand. Whew! But still, that’s a major accomplishment for a mainstream company. Congrats, Apple! Keep up the good work!

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~ by DJ GFire on April 15, 2010.

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