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Blog

20.02.10

Apple’s iPad: A revolution in accessibility for disabled users?

iPad

Whether or not the iPad will succeed in challenging the notebook market on a mass scale remains to be seen, perhaps Apple’s deployment of the product and its route to market will prove a determining factor, just as much as any need or want for the product on the consumers behalf.

What does interest me is that the iPad does one thing particularly well; it succeeds in developing accessibility and usability beyond that of many other such devices we’ve seen. As observed by many parents, the fact that a child can pick up the iPad or similar touch screen devices and interact with the graphical user interface instinctively or based on intuition is a very valuable asset, this should be central to the debate surrounding the worth of the iPad to the consumer market.

The beauty of touch screen devices is that they rely on and promote our most basic human instincts. Take children as an example, as they develop they rely on the tangible and on experimentation with objects to determine what they are and how they can be used, if at all. Perhaps consider disabled users also, the ability to simply lightly touch the screen to interact with the device, as opposed to requiring the dextrous use of the mouse or keyboard could revolutionise some people’s ability to access information, products or services online. And after all, many would argue that access to the internet and information on a broader scale should be considered a basic human right.

“The iPad is bigger. I know this is obvious, but the implications are that people motor control problems such as cerebral palsy may be able to use this device more easily than the smaller ones, as less very fine motor control is needed for many tasks.”Assistive Technology for Apple and Mac Users

The whole online accessibility and usability debate often centralises on the W3C’s accessibility and usability guidelines. These guidelines are intended to aid both web designers and web developers in deploying and developing websites that allow easy use for all users, not just the disabled. Perhaps we are overlooking the worth of developing more accessible devices for interacting with the web such as the iPad, in favour of concentrating on website design alone. This oversight is probably in part due to the fact that the accessibility debate develops and exists predominately online.

With many new laws and guidelines been introduced to promote accessibility of both online media and physical products themselves, accessibility could be set to become a far more determinate factor in both product development and online media. Hopefully this debate will be one that disabled users will ultimately benefit from.

24.02.10

Rustylink said...

The size and simplicity of iPad certainly make it a desirable object for those possessing a manipulative disability. Providing the sensitivity of iPad touch features can be modified, a ‘fuzzy indication’ of a selection of game or character could make the iPad highly desirable for those having difficulties of hand and finger control.

Nevertheless, given the price of the iPad, to justify not choosing an iPhone or small portable computer or notebook, iPad needs to head off competition by incorporating the usual features of a mobile telephone and at a minimum the ability to perform as a satisfactory eBook reader. Any failure in this respect leads users to conclude iPad is an expensive and unnecessarily large mobile phone, or a poor man’s version of a small portable computer/reader.

20.02.10

Matt Gill said...

Certainly. One of the greatest things i’ve noticed about the iphone and its ability to amused children vs a laptop or desktop machine is just how tangible the information is. Children under 5 don’t understand the remoteness of a mouse and so you cannot allow them full control over what they are trying to do which frustrates them.. They can happily poke and stretch at a screen because they feel as though they are “touching” the information.. This is what the Apple people mean when they say u can touch and feel the internet. It means nothing more than marketing hype to adults but to children they really get it..

The iPad will open up a whole new way of amusing and teaching children and i cant possible be more excited about that way of delivering content.

As far as disabled access is concerned i think you have covered every point more than adequately. One of the most limiting factors in any current computer system, bar the iPhone and its like, is the level of control people can assert over a mouse or any other input system. I know 60 year olds who cannot control a mouse in the same way I know 5 year old children who cannot.. Most everyone can control their fingers. And for those that cant, the capacitive touch capabilities of the iPhone and unreleased iPad mean you can still control it with you toes or even ur nose.. try it :)

Unfortunately most of the hype and talk about the iPad has been but computer boffs looking for the next big thing. The iPad is not intended for these people, its intended for ALL people.

The iPad is the culmination of Steve Job’s 30 year old vision of a computer in the hands of everyone.

20.02.10

Adam Fairhead said...

The barrier between technology and organic will slowly decrease as time goes on; of this I’m sure. And in the process, the artificialities that separate underprivileged users from the full world of the web will shrink. With the progression of other technologies such as augmented reality, and routine revolutions from Apple, that future is getting ever closer!