iPhone’s VoiceOver Helps A Blind Person “See”



Most of us don’t need VoiceOver, the accessibility feature that’s built into the operating system of each and every iPhone.

But for one blind iPhone owner, it has been a life-changer.

Writing back in June, Austin Seraphin described an extraordinary first week using an iPhone with a $2 app called Color Identifier (pictured above):

“I looked at the sky. I heard colors such as ‘Horizon,’ ‘Outer Space,’ and many shades of blue and gray. I used color queues to find my pumpkin plants, by looking for the green among the brown and stone. I spent ten minutes looking at my pumpkin plants, with their leaves of green and lemon-ginger. I then roamed my yard, and saw a blue flower. I then found the brown shed, and returned to the gray house. My mind felt blown.”

You have to read the full post – plus a related post about buying other Apple kit – to fully appreciate the story, which has been all over Twitter this weekend thanks to linkage from Daring Fireball and Metafilter. It’s worth taking the time out to read it all though, not just because it’s a heartwarming story, but also because it’s a story about technology.

Apple might have spent time on things that really, in the grand scheme of things, don’t matter (I’m looking at you, Ping). But this – VoiceOver – matters, and it’s good. And the work’s not over yet, because as Austin points out, iTunes still needs a lot of work before it’s usable via VoiceOver. But it’s a start.

Final word goes to Austin, from a recent post about buying an iMac:

“I joyfully look forward to the day when blind people finally catch on and realize that for $700, HALF the cost of JAWS for Windows, the most popular software used or rather pushed on the blind, they can get a fully functional computer that delivers a superior experience and comes with a superior screen reader with superior speech. May the Mac relegate Windows to the recycle bin, where it properly belongs.”