Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Apple Leads the Way for EVERYONE

Last Friday I joined Mark Ackermann, Lighthouse CEO, in a phone conversation with Mark Kellner of The Washington Times to talk about the phe-nom that is accessible technology. I'm delighted to report that this journalist really got the point.

KELLNER: Apple leads in 'assistive technology' for the blind
By Mark A. Kellner
The Washington Times
4:44 p.m., Tuesday, January 18, 2011

If there's anything that can scare most of us - and with good reason
it's the prospect of losing one's sight, or having it severely damaged.
It's not just total blindness; diseases such as macular degeneration, in
which damage to the retina causes a loss of vision in the macula, the
center of vision, often strikes older people, but it can also affect
young adults and others.

(That anxiety is, apparently, widely shared: According to an October
2010 poll by Harris Interactive, 82 percent of Americans fear losing
their vision, the highest proportion among the five senses, and more
than 10 times the next-highest fear, loss of hearing at 8 percent.)

The introduction of the Braille alphabet, which lets people "read" by
touch, has been an advancement, but as then-Gov. David A. Paterson told
the New York Times on Dec. 26 of last year, "You can't Braille the daily

How can those with limited vision, or even no vision at all, be
mainstreamed in today's tech-intensive world? Mark Ackermann and Dorrie
Rush have some answers. Mr. Ackermann is president and CEO, and Ms. Rush
is director of marketing for "assistive technology" at Lighthouse
International,, a New York-based agency helping those
with vision-loss issues.

The 105-year-old Lighthouse is widely known in New York City, having
provided education, job training and living assistance for those who
need it. The group has a massive facility on East 59th Street in
Manhattan that has served thousands.

Today's distributed world needs distributed solutions, however: People
can live and work just about anywhere, and, as Ms. Rush's example would
suggest, even thrive, despite her having Stargardt's disease, which, she
writes, "results in progressive loss of central vision."

But Ms. Rush uses an iPhone and an iPad, both from Apple Inc. She works
on a Windows-based personal computer at her office, and an Apple iMac at
home. She's a blogger ( and an

"I'm 52 years old and I want to be like the other kids," Ms. Rush said
in a Jan. 14 telephone interview. Having assistive technology which
either greatly enlarges the screen display or reads aloud text on a
computer screen is vital, she said: "It means I can continue a
relatively normal life; I can work. It is something that everyone
dealing with vision loss fears losing, which is his or her ability to

More important, Ms. Rush's iPad and iPhone look just like yours and mine
would. Instead of carrying something which shouts "I'm using a special
product," users can fit in with the crowd, and that's a plus.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Verizon Comes to the Party

Yesterday Verizon made an honest woman of me, finally. I was beginning
to doubt my certainty that Verizon would get the iPhone when AT&T's
exclusive expired. Over and over I assured Verizon customers unwilling to switch wireless carriers (as I did) that the iPhone was coming to Verizon - for sure!

It was surprising that many Verizon customers were more attached
emotionally than contractually. Even in the face of the most popular
mobile phone in the world becoming fully accessible to people with
impaired vision - many customers of Verizon would not budge. It was not
as if they had a viable option -- In terms of accessibility no other
mobile phone comes close.

Last January I began stating with pure certitude that Verizon's iPhone
was imminent. When the first quarter of 2010 came and went I
repositioned my prediction into Q2. By the third quarter I was so sure I
was ready to bet money on it. Then in the fourth quarter I realized my
best bet was to shut my mouth.

Disillusioned, I consulted my reliable sources at Apple and at Verizon -
their lips were sealed. Clearly I had been outsmarted by Apple's wildly successful no-hype approach to all launches - SWEAR EVERYONE TO SECRECY!

So I stopped offering my predictions on the coming of the iPhone to Verizon and I told myself to not to be so sure of things I am not sure of.

And then the announcement comes - Verizon is indeed coming to the party!!

The news not only pleased me immensely, it also put a "spring" in Jon Stewart's step, as he too apparently had been anxiously awaiting another iPhone option. For his hilarious tribute to AT&T on the Daily Show click here.