Friday, August 12, 2011

Out of the Box

My conversion to Apple has been something of a religious experience, and this week my faith was elevated to a whole new level. It happened as I attended “Accessibility Out of the Box” at Apple 14 Street in New York. This event, the first of its kind as far as I know, brought my favorite topic --Universal Access -- front and center.

As I listened to the speakers and looked around at the audience I could not help reflecting on how far we have come. Just a few years ago there was not one big mainstream technology product that was fully accessible to me --- not even one. Today Apple delivers everything with full accessibility --- ready to go right out of the box! If you can’t see or hear well, or you have physical or learning challenges – you get the same product at the same price as everyone else.

The reality of all this brought on a surge of unexpected emotion. I was welling up a little. These were not the tears of misery that technology used to evoke in me --- they were the tears of joy. I realized this was not just about how you see --- it was about how you hear, how you feel, how you think. It was not just about some of us, it was about all of us. Now I really had to fight back the tears!

I was inspired to step out of the box myself and ventured over to the demonstration of accessibility options for Learning and Literacy. There was more good stuff here for me: spotlight search, announced alerts, and text to speech. The gifts keep coming.

If you have not quite experienced the level of understanding you were looking for at your local Apple Store --- Don't Give Up! Today we know Apple 14th Street has accessibility specialists – and tomorrow maybe all the other apple Stores will too. Amen.