Mike Perry pointed me at a story on MacNN about Apple opening up a new accessibility device section on the online Apple Store. The store section carries devices to assist Apple users with poor vision, physical and motor skill problems, or learning and literacy disabilities. It carries devices that work with iPads, iPhones, and Macs, with filters for each phone, tablet, or computer to show which available devices work with them.
There are quite a number of devices of all descriptions—big buttons that people with coordination problems can push more easily, mounting arms to hold devices for them, and even a pair of Braille displays clocking in at about $2,600 and $3,000 each. (Small wonder few blind people read Braille. Who can afford it?) I didn’t see any speech synthesizers, but then, that functionality is built into the Apple products already.
MacNN notes that Apple’s prices are lower than some other accessibility-device vendors. However, Apple doesn’t seem to accept health insurance as a payment option, meaning that they would be less expensive to some users bought elsewhere. Nonetheless, even if some customers do have to buy the devices elsewhere, this site does point out which of these devices have been tested to work with which Apple products, which removes some of the doubt when shopping for them no matter where you buy them.
As Mike Perry noted when he told me about the story, it’s unclear whether Amazon has anything similar. It does carry some of these same devices (such as AbleNet brand products), and has a category for occupational and physical therapy aids, but will it tell you specifically which hardware they work with? Apple, on the other hand, has tested the devices to make sure they work with its products, or else has the clout to make sure the manufacturers do so and present them accurately.
In any event, it’s good to see another big computer manufacturer making it easy for differently able folks to use their computers. Hopefully more will follow this example.