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36 Seconds That Changed Everything

Posted in Access and Disability, Announcements, and New Media and Tech

I’m excited to announce the release of my audio documentary, “36 Seconds That Changed Everything: How the iPhone Learned to Talk.”

“36 Seconds” tells the story of how the iPhone went from being utterly inaccessible to people with disabilities, to the leading mobile device for people who are blind, have a hearing loss, or experience a motor disability. The story is largely told from the point of view of people who were left out when the iPhone debuted in 2007, because they were physically unable to use the device. But two years later, Apple added accessibility features, mostly for people with blindness and low vision. Later, support for people with hearing loss and motor disabilities was added.

In listening back over the program, and getting the transcript ready to on on the Web, I have realized that it didn’t turn out exactly as I planned it. I had thought I would make a more specific case about the ways in which accessibility as a technical component of software and hardware, is often ignored in favor of sentimental portrayals. I most definitely did not cave in to sentiment, but I ended up talking to and about people more than I thought I would. My hope is that the human story will still make the point that it is not “touching” or “nice” that accessibility to technology exists. It’s a technical challenge met for a group of people who use devices differently than those for whom they were originally designed.

Please to enjoy!

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