iPad and Assistive Tech, Part 2

This morning I read a great article about how the iPad is being hailed as the best new tool for the blind.  Its fascinating to think about how much operating systems impact the use of a particular device.  For instance – when graphical user interface (GUI) became common (think icons and pictures versus text) many blind folks lost their jobs because the programs which turned text into audio (so they could hear what was on a webpage) couldn’t make the leap to translating the graphical stuff quickly enough. So much of our world assumes being able to see!

I’ll admit that in my own personal joy at seeing graphical interfaces as they became more common place (I’m a visual learner), I never even thought about how that might impact someone with a visual challenge.  I am quickly realizing that in my last post about a singular app for the iPad, I barely scratched the surface of the world of assistive technology.  Reading about all the ways that technologies have been modified to support people’s particular needs as they relate to computer interfaces and the peculiarities of operating systems has been enlightening.  What is even more exciting is to see that folks with disabilities have taken on the challenge of piloting the iPad and sharing there thoughts in a blog as well.

Its interesting to contemplate the connection between the iPad as an assistive device and the topic Camille is exploring, the iPad as a tool for social justice.  I think there is a direct connection here.  Providing individuals with a tool like the iPad, that meets particular learning styles, challenges, and needs, and that inspire developers to create new and innovative applications for people with disabilities, goes a long way towards leveling the playing field for everyone.  Just compare the disabled community’s responses to the Amazon Kindle vs. the iPad and the message is pretty clear – the iPad is really going to shake things up in a big way!

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