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Touch Screens “Wholly” Inaccessible

March 30 2009 | by

Quadriplegic since a 1983 sports accident, Adam Lloyd has maintained an extremely active life in the academic, business, and writing fields. Currently a doctoral student in English at the University of Maryland, from time to time he writes freelance articles for Public Radio International’s Savvy Traveler, Abilities magazine, and his blog Gimp On The Go. He wrote to Abledbody with some advice on the iPhone and iPod Touch, saying that touch screen devices are still wholly inaccessible to people with mobility impairments. “As a quadriplegic I must use a mouthstick (a pointing device held in his mouth) to operate most electronic gadget. However, the screens on the iPhone and iPod will not respond to the touch of a mouthstick -– they require the electrostatic impulse from a human finger to work,” he says. “It’s a real shame, because these innovative, compact devices and their apps could be a great benefit and resource to the severely mobility impaired. But, for now they’re completely unusable.” I’ve written about how touch screens are inaccessible to blind and VI people who can’t see what they’re touching and too few — the Blackberry Storm being an exception — provide tactile feedback. Adam’s perspective as a quadriplegic gives more ammunition to the argument that touch screens, which are obviously the trend for smartphones and devices — even netbooks –, need to respond to all types of people, including those who cannot see or use their fingers.

  • J camp

    daydeal.comThere are several companies out there that have created stylus’s that work with touch screens like the one on the iPhone. You can find one here:

    Perhaps this could be modified to work with mouthstick or other adaptations. If you go to youtube you can find several video how-to videos that explain how to make one at home.

    It would be nice if Apple could some how adapt their VoiceOver software to work with the iphone. Although the keyboard would be very difficult to use being non-tactile.

  • As someone who can’t see, I appreciate learning about how touch screens are not just a barrier to the blind. I hope that Apple and other companies will take all disabilities into consideration when making future touch screen products. IPhone developers ar
  • Ryan Benson

    There are also pieces of material that you can buy that simulate the impulse needed. On second thought, I have seen these tested, so I am not 100% sure if they are out yet…

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