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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

iPad Review: From a Blindness Perspective

by Waldorf PC

The Apple iPad is one of the hottest pieces of technology on the market right now. Just about everyone is talking about how hot the iPad looks and how they must  have one. Us blind folks are no exception. Because Apple has done a spectacular job at integrating accessibility in all of their products in an effort to include the blind and other disabled individuals, us blind people can enjoy being a part of these hot trends and feel cool like our sighted peers. This enables us to have something to relate to when it comes to conversing with our sighted counterparts, which to me is huge because I do not enjoy the feeling that I'm so isolated and can only relate to a certain subculture. Thanks so much to Apple; we are not left out in the cold, being forced to wait a long period of time to have some cool gadgets in our hands long after the coolness has died out. And thanks so much to Apple caring enough about our inclusion; I'm able to provide a first person iPad review from a blindness perspective.

iPad Usability and Accessibility

The Apple iPad is one hundred percent accessible straight out of the box. Unlike many other products that require the blind to install third-party software in order to use them successfully, which requires more money to be spent, the iPad has Voiceover technology integrated into the device that enables all aspects of the iPad to be utilized. Blind individuals will spend the same amount of money as their sighted counterparts, and they can use the iPad like everyone else. For those who do not know, Voiceover is a screen reader that speaks all of the text aloud on the screen, as well as the menus and icons.

For those blind individuals who are worried about the touch screen being difficult to use, there is nothing to worry about. Blind individuals can glide a finger over the screen, and as they glide their fingers, the options will be spoken aloud. When the users hear an option that they want to select, they can tap their fingers on that option twice, and the option will then be selected. There is no barrier to us blind folks using the Apple iPads touch screen.

How the iPad Feels

Of course, with me being totally blind, I'm going to give a lot of attention to detail in this regard, as the sense of touch is very important to me. And if things feel nice, then I'm more inclined to pay better attention and be more interested.

The iPad feels sleek, smooth, and thin, and I love that a lot. It is a bit bigger than the iPhone, but it is portable enough to carry around on trips. It has a touch screen that feels smooth to the touch, making it very easy for a blind user to utilize every function of the iPad. The iPad is not bulky in the least bit. It is very lightweight; that is another thing I love about it.

The iPad Features

The Apple iPad has all of the functionality of a computer with very few exceptions. For example, the iPad possesses the capability of word processing (Even Microsoft Word files are compatible), the ability to read E-Books (The iBook application can be downloaded for free from the Apple Store, and this application enables you to read E-Books of many types. Free E-Books can be obtained from elsewhere and be synchronized with ITunes, and Voiceover can even be used to read these books aloud.), and the ability to utilize all aspects of the Internet, just the same as one would on a computer. There are two data plans that users can subscribe to. One plan costs $15 per month. This particular plan includes 30MB of data. The second option is an unlimited data plan that costs $30 per month. I personally will never, ever go with the limited data plan because I feel that watching usage is so yesterday, and the unlimited option is the best way to go in all things. Of course, this depends on each individual user. Data plans can be purchased without a contract.

Apple has really changed the lives of many blind individuals by integrating accessibility in all things. I strongly feel that the rest of the electronic industry needs to follow in their footsteps, so us blind individuals can continue to enjoy equal usability at an equal price. Because Apple has taken this major step in including us, I'm able to sit and chill out with all of my sighted peers, use my iPad right along with them, and join other blind techs in providing information to our fellow blind peers about the device. Best of all, I did not have to spend hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, to make the device accessible in order for me to use it.

Article Source:


"It's pretty widely known the new iPad from Apple includes VoiceOver, Apple's now standard screen reader providing access for the blind and visually impaired out of the box. But check this link to read about some of the other features of the new device, demonstrating the amount of thought Apple has put into accessibility. For instance, those who are hard of hearing in one ear can easily route all audio to one speaker. It's a very simple feature but it's nice to see little things like this get attention from a mainstream company."

Click this link to read Accessibility features help everyone enjoy iPad.

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