[As written on Friday, October 7, 2011]
This morning was a typical morning in my house, which is to say, my life. I woke up to the sound of my iPhone’s alarm. I turned over, shut off the alarm, and set my phone to play my Wake-up playlist with its iPod feature. I then got myself a drink and read my morning news articles with my iPad. After that was done, I made plans to go to the Portland Apple store, that being the closest to me, to replace my computer’s battery. In fact, as I write this on my MacBook, we are driving to Portland. What do all these things have in common? Apart from my drink and the car (and Portland), almost every noun in this paragraph was made possible by a man who changed the world for many, many people.
That man is Steve Jobs.
And he has ruined my life.
As a blind computer user, I used to be quite content to type away on my Windows desktop, having been granted the ability to read its screen by paying upwards of $800 above and beyond the cost of the computer itself. I was content to only use a cell phone for phone calls, unless I wanted to pay an additional $300 or more for the price of an add-on screen reading software package. I was content to look down my nose with smug superiority at people who spent so much time browsing the web, texting, and doing all manner of things with their phones *other* than making phone calls. I justified this with statements like, “If their phone breaks, they’re really in trouble, huh?” or, “How lazy are we getting as a society? I like every thing to have its purpose.”
And then Steve Jobs ruined me.
How, you ask?
Steve Jobs made a screen reading software package a part of the operating system which powered the Mac computer, as well as eventually taking that a step further and powering the iPHone as well, not to mention every other Apple product line. No longer must I pay extra for access to my technology. No longer can I sit idly by when companies like Amazon give the blind consumer bare-bones attempts at accessibility in a not-so-subtle attempt at mollification. I now am forced by my conscience to stand up and shout to anyone who’ll listen that it isn’t enough. How do I know it isn’t enough? Apple proved it.
Perhaps lawsuits were instrumental in granting this accessibility, and perhaps they weren’t. We’ve seen what lawsuits bring about in terms of obligatory accessibility. (I’m looking at you, Kindle.) Even if lawsuits played a part, Steve Jobs went hundreds of miles above and beyond the call of duty, and has forever changed not only what is possible for accessibility, but also what is (or should be) expected from companies when providing accessibility.
No longer am I able to settle for whatever drippings the lords of the manor see fit to bestow upon me. I now have to live life knowing there’s a better way. Ignorance was bliss. I, and all of us who use Apple products, have been forever changed.
We lost Steve Jobs a few days ago, and he has left a vacancy which, I fear, will not soon be filled. If ever a man or woman embodied the creative spirit, that can certainly be said of Steve Jobs.
Thank you, Mr. Jobs. Youou may have ruined my life, but you’ve done so in the best possible way…
…and I wouldn’t change it for the world.