by Ray Campbell
Many of the thoughts I express in this article come from a personal blog entry that I posted the night of Oct. 5, 2011, when we learned that Apple founder Steve Jobs passed away. Every day, we're impacted in one way or another by things invented by people we never have met or will meet. Sometimes, these impacts are for the better and you want so much to thank the inventor of whatever it is that impacted you.
On Oct. 5, we lost one of those people whom I've never met but wish I could thank over and over again. I'm talking about Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, Inc. Thank you, Steve, for recognizing that people like me who need accessible technology are an important part of the market that needs to be served. Thank you for showing that true accessibility can be built in off the shelf, allowing those like me who are blind to go out, buy and use the same products at the same time as everyone else.
Thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple, I could go out earlier this year when my carrier started supporting it and buy an iPhone, set it up and take advantage of all the great things it can do, and guess what, I could set it up independently. Thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple, people who are blind, including those needing braille displays (e.g., those who are deaf-blind) can go out, buy a Mac computer and start using it right out of the box without having to spend hundreds of dollars or more on an expensive screen reader; it just works!
Thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple, companies can no longer say that it's too costly, will stifle innovation or that it's impractical to build accessibility in right off the shelf. Apple did it. And thanks to Steve Jobs and Apple, the future is bright for accessibility.
I've been around technology for over 25 years, and seen a lot. I remember the Apple 2E computer and how it didn't take much to make it talk. I have to admit, though, that I wasn't much of an Apple fan up until about 2 years ago. I always felt Apple was older, inferior technology and wondered why anyone would use that stuff.
Well, I'm proving you can teach an old dog new tricks, or maybe an old tech guy. I've become a huge fan of Apple products, owning both an iPhone and a MacBook Air. It was so nice to be able to pull these devices out of the box and set them up independently. It was so nice not to have to pay an exorbitant amount of extra money just to have basic access to these products. Apple is making enough of a dent now that other companies are going to need to sit up and take notice of what they're doing.
Granted, we still have work to do; the release of the Kindle Fire by Amazon without a lick of accessibility proves that. However, progress is being made and credit for that can be laid at the feet of, largely, one man, Steve Jobs. My heartfelt sympathy to Mr. Jobs' family and everyone at Apple. Steve Jobs, rest in peace, knowing you've very positively impacted the lives of many, especially those like me who are blind.