I spent last weekend with friends who use their matching iPhones to great effect. Though new in town, they were able to zoom in on (well, close) to my house with Google street view, and find a store we wanted to visit before I could complete my call to directory assistance. They also kept up with emails from home, and conducted searches just because they could, all while holding up their end of the conversation.
Tap, tap, tap.
I’m past the angry part. No iPhone for me. OK. I don’t really feel the need for a Google IV on a constant basis, but every once in awhile, it would be nice, as would a quick look at my email account while bouncing along on the #7 bus, or a recipe onscreen as I work in the kitchen. OK, I want one. So sue me.
But I have to say that this post from Disability Nation about AT&T’s plan to make iPhone accessible to deaf users, really did get my goat. AT&T (and other cell carriers, I assume) offers a data-only plan for deaf or hearing impaired users of its other phones. You get unlimited text-based features, and aren’t charged for a voice plan you can’t use. Right on! It should also be pointed out that cell carriers often subsidize the cost of Mobile Speak, an audio interface for compatible phone. That subsidy is needed by many, because Mobile Speak, low-volume product that it is, costs $300, otherwise.
These are perfect examples of inefficient cost-shifting.Why should a phone carrier subsidize individual purchases of expensive software for disabled users? Why should I go begging for such a subsidy? In the case of the iPhone and accessibility for blind and visually impaired users, where is the native interface, voice or text, that can be adapted to my needs, especially given the capabilities of Apple’s OS? I’d pay for that, or would support grants that would pay for its development. Why leave users completely out of the loop, or rely on carriers to subsidize what hardware vendors should have provided in the first place?