Dear Apple – A Slightly Different Perspective on the iPad

After such a long time away from my blog, there are admittedly many things I should be writing about…but this is important to me and so many people out there who are visually impaired.

I love to keep in touch online, no matter where I am.  I find my very large-screen laptop a trial to lug around on the road, and tried a netbook. But the screen was so small that I was picking the darn thing up like a book.  Complete FAIL if you don’t want to draw undue attention to yourself at the local coffee joint.

Then I discovered the iPod Touch.  Love it for its portability and its ability to give me the independence to read email, post to Facebook and tweet to my heart’s content – fairly unobtrusively.

But it’s still a bitch to read over a long period, and the keyboard is minuscule.

I think for people like me who are legally blind, the new lightweight iPad and its larger screen may be a lifesaver.

Bottom line, I’m very interested.  But like anything else, it’s price-prohibitive and even totally out-of-reach for many of us.

So, for all you folks at Apple, I have a few suggestions for your consideration:

Make the life of visually impaired people a bit easier.

  • Start working with organizations like the Lighthouse for the Blind and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to donate at least one iPad to every branch across North America  for their low-vision clients (I’d like to say world-wide, but I have to be practical)
  • Donate an iPad to all the major schools for the blind in North America
  • Involve visually impaired people like me in the development of the next generation of the iPad so we can give you solid feedback on what works and what doesn’t (and if you haven’t done that for any of your previous products – why haven’t you?)
  • Give a discount to visually impaired consumers who’d be interested in purchasing an iPad (Proof of disability can easily be provided in the form of an ID card or doctor’s letter)

You’d be helping countless of thousands of people communicate more effectively and efficiently.  And isn’t that what Apple is mandated to do?

If anyone at Apple takes the time to read this, thank you!

19 thoughts on “Dear Apple – A Slightly Different Perspective on the iPad

  1. Very good ideas Cathy. In the later years of school, I know that Apple was very active in supporting academia. Like Apple, I never thought of the needs of the visually impaired.

    Perhaps this is a good way start the awareness.

    Thank you,


  2. Cathy,
    Excellent post. I’d not looked at my iPad as a tool for the visual impaired, but you make a good case for it. It would be good if Apple (and other companies) would setup a program for the visually impaired similar to the program they have for schools. (Schools get special discounts.)

    I hope this gets read by someone at Apple who can act on the issue.

  3. […] Dear Apple – A Slightly Different Perspective on the iPad | Cathy’s Clean Slate – a plea for Apple to consult visually impaired people about what works for them. […]

  4. Cathy,

    I do share your proposals, although on a more global perspectiive, e.g. worldwide Apple’s outreach programs for VI.
    If I can dream of the iPad as a multitasker, I would like it to have a connexion for the iPod so as to provide a screen extension to read my mails, the web easily, and see any pictures I would take, including papers I can’t read on my way (I would use my iPod camera as a pseudo scanner); I would like to plug my USB for personal documents display. A multilingual text to speech reader would come as an extra!
    In fact, if the iPad could also be a CCTV magnifier and have some linkages with the iPod, it could be a magnificent tool for us as we would have a great travel kit.
    It’s just around the corner!

  5. Nicely said, Cathy!

    I know that Apple has worked with the AFB or NFB in the development of the VoiceOver technology and on the accessibility features of the iPhone/Touch. So they are listening, at least in part. I think that they focus primarily on access for those with no functional vision. I would like to see them build up their accessibility for low vision with better zoom and alternate color schemes.

    I think the iPad also needs a camera. This could become a very handy way to read small print by taking a picture and zooming to full screen.

    On the Touch, I use the Kindle app and set the color scheme to white on black and max the font size. With this I can read for extended periods of time. I am now testing the idea of listening to the audiobook while reading the ebook. It’s pretty cool.

    Thanks for your post!

  6. Great perspective! Seems like there are new devices coming out every day that assist people with visual impairments! Go ADA & WTG Apple 🙂

  7. Braille Institute is looking for virtual volunteers for their new online community site the new site is focused on helping people with low or failing vision and the people that care for them. Great post. Have a great day!

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  10. Very well put, Cathy.

    One aspect on the iPad which I’m surprised isn’t there (as far as I can tell) is in the ebook reader part. One can enlarge text OK, but there doesn’t seem to be the capability to change the font + background colour. Not only would this benefit people with visual impairment but help people with dyslexia.

  11. Go Cathy!
    Do we know how accessible the iPad is yet?

    I agree with Linda too, there are going to a larger and larger visually impaired or blind demographic as bommers age.

    People involved in the development of technologies like the iPad have a huge opportunity to open, or keep open, the world of digital communication of persons with print disabilities.

    For me, text to speech would be the feature that would be most helpful. Does the iPad have that? I want to listen to my books, but I don’t want to have to be limited by what’s been recorded, I want to be able to have TTS on whatever reading material that’s available to sighted people

    I would hope that there are people with disabilities as part of the development teams for these wonderful innovations.

  12. Hi Cathy

    What a fantastic perspective you’ve brought to this. I’ll do my best to raise awareness by retweeting on Twitter. My grandmother was visually impaired in the last stages of her life so this really resonated with me. Thanks for highlighting an important challenge!

    Cheers, Iggy

  13. Cathy,
    Thank you for writing your post. You make some very good suggestions on how to effectively use the iPad as an assistive device.
    David Doyle
    VP Sales
    Simply Computing

  14. I agree with you, especially on development. I got a kindle simply because it would enlarge type to large print and allow me to read books away from the computer screen. I still have some difficulty with the black on grey. I have to order books on the computer because it doesn’t enlarge the print in the Kindle store. I don’t want to listen to an audio book as long as I can see well enough to read. We are a larger market than people seem to realize.

  15. Cathy – I read it and I agree with you!
    I hadn’t looked at the iPad this way before just now.
    You’ve opened my eyes!

    – and YES I meant every pun.
    : )

    Hey Apple…
    Cathy has a very very good point over here – what do you think?

  16. Well said Cathy, I hope Apple is listening. It’s a shame that the people who may benefit the most from the newer technology can’t afford it!

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