WHY BRANDS MATTER?

There are many ways to incorporate people with disability challenges into the library, but with everything now it all comes down to technology. While many may prefer certain brands over others because of looks and the camera, there is a group of people that have a fundamental reason to like one brand better than others. These individuals prefer a certain brand because the decision that these companies make could affect their everyday way of life. According to Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies, the terms “blindness” and “low vision” cover a wide variety of experiences, including legal blindness, limited visual acuity, and color blindness. People with low vision, for example, have different challenges than people who are blind (Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies). The blind community needs to have certain brands when it comes to certain tools that allow them to interact without any help is major.

There is a name that is given to technology that helps people with disability challenges, assistive technology. Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies states, ““Assistive technology” is a term that describes electronic solutions that enable people with disabilities to live independently. The term “adaptive technology” is sometimes used in a similar way (Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies).”

Brands

Microsoft
According to Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies, Microsoft Windows comes with accessibility attributes that can help some people with moderate disabilities use computers (Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies). Microsoft hires people that are affected by the disability challenge and they are the ones who come up with the ideas for Microsoft to try. One such person is Saqib Shaikh, Shaikh works in London, England for Microsoft in the Bing search engine department. Shaikh is work on helping develop Microsoft AI technology.

Tools:
Sound Sentry- helps hearing-impaired people see audio computer cues
Sticky Keys- which enables key-combination commands to be entered as individual key entries

Apple
Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies states, “Apple also incorporates accessibility in all of its products, and most experts consider Apple accessibility features to be superior to those of Microsoft. Although they are generally more expensive, Apple products offer a significant number of tools available that help people with learning, visual, hearing, and physical disabilities access information without any cost to the library (Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies).”

The Winner
Apple seems to be the preferred brand among most people who are blind. During to the Q and A of another class we had a guest speaker who was completely blind named Tim, Tim was asked by a student which brand he preferred when it came to assistive technology? His answer was Apple. Tim explained that Apple was the first company to have assistive technology in their devices. Tim stated, “Apple had assistive technology in their first device, making them the leaders.” But he made sure to point out it was not just because they were the first it was because they kept improving the issues, not by just putting a band-aid over the problem and hope it would fix itself, but by fixing any problems at the root. Tim is not the only one that feels that way, according to Mark Gurman, The American Foundation for the Blind today announced four honorees for the upcoming Helen Keller Achievement Awards, highlighting Apple’s VoiceOver and Accessibility efforts (Gurman). Apple is specifically being awarded for VoiceOver Accessibility technology across its products, per the announcement: AFB is recognizing Apple for VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader that allows users to hear a description of everything happening on the display, and other features that make iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices accessible to people with vision loss. Apple received an AFB Access Award in 2009 for its trailblazing engineering of accessible products and continues its extraordinary efforts to make their products accessible for everyone (Gurman).

 

 

Works Cited
Association of Specialized Government and Cooperative Library Agencies. Blindness and Low Vision. n.d. 28 October 2018.
Gurman, Mark. American Foundation for the Blind honors Apple for VoiceOver technology. 6 May 2015. 28 October 2018.

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One thought on “WHY BRANDS MATTER?

  1. I loved this blog post. Accessibility isn’t something I’d ever really considered, which highlights my privilege and lack of any disabilities. I see articles from time to time, but I’ve never stopped and considered which company was doing more to help a wider range of people. So it was eye-opening, to say the least, to read this blog post.
    I did further research and found a recent article. The title seemed innocuous, and also shocking. Was it really something that needed broadcasting? Apparently, the fact that Apple is adding nine emojis that display various disabilities is groundbreaking, and warrants discussion. The nine emojis are:
    “Guide dog with harness
    Person with cane
    Ear with hearing aid
    Deaf sign
    Person in mechanized wheelchair
    Person in manual wheelchair
    Mechanical or prosthetic arm
    Mechanical or prosthetic leg
    Service dog with vest or leash.” (1)
    Along with that, the emojis promise diversity: the emojis will have “male and female versions where appropriate, and support skin tones where appropriate. All told, we’re looking at 13 emoji with male/female variants, or 45 with those variations plus skin tones.”(2) It’s not much, but when you scroll through emojis, it’s easy to see why this is something to be celebrated. So many emojis are very plainly able-bodied. This isn’t much, but it does reinforce the idea that Apple wants to be there for their users, and to make sure that they are accessible to everyone, no matter what.
    It was interesting to know that Apple was the first to have assistive technology. I try to stay out of the “Android vs. Apple” arguments, but this seems like a massive point in Apple’s favor. Not only that, they keep improving that, it wasn’t just “one and done.” That’s admirable, since so many companies just want to prolong battery life, or have a clearer screen. Accessibility is insanely important in today’s day and age, and Apple is clearly going above and beyond to highlight that. It’s also being pointed out in mainstream media: Netflix’s Daredevil show has the titular character (a blind man) using an iPhone and its accessibility features. He sends and receives texts, and can open different apps using just his voice. He mentioned this in an interview back in 2015:
    “When it came time to make Daredevil’s mask, Cox had to sit in a chair for 45 minutes with his face completely covered in papier-mache. Five minutes into the process, his iPhone starts to vibrate once, twice, three times…’It was five or six texts. I started to panic.’ Then he remembered what [Joe] Strechay had taught him. Cox took out his iPhone and used VoiceOver to navigate.” (3)
    Apple is ahead of the game, but hopefully, sometime soon, more and more companies even the gap, so that accessibility is no longer dominated by just one company.
    Great article, I really enjoyed reading it!

    Sources:

    1. CROSS, J. (2018). Apple proposes nine new accessibility emojis. Macworld – Digital Edition, 35(5), 12. Retrieved from http://libdata.lib.ua.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=129236307&site=eds-live&scope=site
    2. ibid.
    3. Ulanoff, L. (2015). VoiceOver reveals Apple’s iPhone to the blind. Mashable. Retrieved from https://mashable.com/2015/06/19/apple-voiceover-lauded-by-blind/#r5f3qF.ptgqz

    Like

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