For a long time I thought that Apple’s Ipod was not accessible to a blind person such as myself. I new that the Ipod was operated by the user placing their fingers on a touch screen and activating buttons which open various applications. I had visions of each time a button was touched an app on the device would open or perform some other function, however I visited a number of websites and discovered, to my surprise that a large number of visually impaired people are successfuly using “I” devices such as the Ipod and Ipad.
Last Friday (13 January) I visited the Apple store in London’s Covent Garden. Due to the background noise I was unable to hear the voiceover (the inbuilt speech which allows people to hear what is being displayed on screen), however I was taken along with my sighted friend into a quiet room in which I was able to play with both an Ipod and Ipad to my hearts content.
As already mentioned the Ipod and Ipad have voiceover built into the device (this needs to be activated from within Settings and, to the best of my knowledge a blind person will require sighted assistance to turn it on, however, once activated Voiceover remains active and does not require to be rreinabled each time the device is switched on). Once the Ipod started speaking I ran my fingers across the device and discovered a number of buttons (for example “music”, “mail” and “messages”. Fortunately the buttons require to be tapped twice before they will activate the application associated with them so a blind person, such as myself can hear which button they are touching and activate it (or not as the case may be) by double tapping on it).
The staff in the Apple store where extremely patient as was my sighted friend and my friend and I must have spent over 2 hours in the shop prior to me taking the plunge and purchasing an Ipod Touch (4th Generation) and a wireless keyboard.
Every day that passes brings new frustrations and new achievements. At first I couldn’t understand why I could only read the first few lines of articles, in newspapers while browsing the web, however after posing the question on the Blind Apples group mailing list I learned that a two fingered swipe will allow the user to view entire webpages/articles.
I’ve successfuly transfered much of my music, using Itunes from my Windows PC to the Ipod. This was surprisingly easy and, in essence requires that the user plugs their ipod, via a USB cable into a PC (with Itunes on it), Itunes then opens and the music is transfered.
If you are blind and have the patience then you may well find an Ipod well worth the money. Before purchasing I suggest you check out the Blind Apples user Group as there are many helpful individuals who are happy to share their knowledge of how they, as blind people successfully use Apple products including the Ipod. For the Blind Apple group please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/blindapples/