I seem to be innundated lately with posts here, there, and everywhere about the IPhone, IPad, etc. It sometimes feels as if no other mobile technology is acceptable anymore unless it begins with the letter I. (That is meant to be a little humorous, and earlier I made a joke to someone that perhaps I would go to IBed.) If someone asks on a list about how to do something with a particular phone, I have even seen people post back, "You could get an IPhone. It would be easier, and you can do so much more..." This, in my opinion, is the height of rudeness. If someone posted a question about how to use the IPhone, I would not post back and tell them they should get a Fuze because it is a better phone. I would ignore the thread and let the IPhone users answer; or if no one answered, I would help them find an IPhone resource. The world is now big enough for multiple types of technology, and we really ought to be embracing that. I think the IPhone is a good thing. It is not something I see myself using. What I object to is not the existence of touch screen technology. It is the way that people have begun flocking to it and acting like it is the answer for all blind people. It is not the solution for everyone.
I have seen this occasionally with other mobile technologies as well. In general,if someone has a preferred technology, they think it is better and will subtlely snub someone who uses a competing product. Just as people prefer different screen readers, people prefer different mobile technologies; and we need to be able to respect that when talking to each other, especially when talking to someone who has never used mobile technology before. Someone might really take to a touch screen, or they might really need a keyboard. They might do well with a keyboard and a screen that maps to quadrants, like Mobile Speak does on some phones; or they might need a phone with no touch screen like the Moto Q. They might want a Nokia because it runs the KNFB Reader. Also, some people's choices might be limited by what carrier they want to use, and that needs to be ok.
I've heard people push new users toward the IPhone because they won't have to buy the screen reader. I really caution against this. If the IPhone is really the right phone for the person, the free accessibility is certainly nice. But sometimes we do need to pay for accessibility. It would be nice if it was all free like the IPhone; but we do get some very nice features in the software we are paying for. I have never used Talks, but I know people who do and from their descriptions it seems to be a comparable program to Mobile Speak in its features if you want to run a phone that needs it. I am deliberately avoiding a lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of the special deals that carriers offer with special prices for phone and software bundles. Personally, I avoid them. The reasons why are for another post. In short, there are numerous factors to consider when picking accessible mobile technology: price, carrier, operating system, features desired on the phone, input method, previous experience with technology... It isn't necessarily an easy decision, and we need to respect that process for each other.
Now that my mobile tech snobbery gripe is out of the way, I will go on to the real reason for my post: what we do with this mobile tech while we are out and about...
When I looked up the IPad to find out just why people were going ICrazy about it, I thought, gee, the only thing it doesn't do is make your dinner! It's about the size of my Asus laptop; and it does everything a laptop does (with a touch screen, of course) and also functions as an MP3 player and connects to the data network. Oh, it is also supposedly a competitor to the Amazon Kindle. PCs have had tablet screens for a couple of years now; and in 2008 I bought a 12 inch PC that had a little bitty antenna that allowed it to connect to Verizon. Of course, I would have had to pay an arm and a leg at the time; and I chose not to.
I now use my little HTC Fuze on AT&T's data network. The Fuze is quite a little powerhouse, especially since I have finally properly upgraded my Mobile Speak. (Oh, I can even work on the touch screen now with the new version of Mobile Speak, though I can go back to the keyboard if I get mad at it.) It has Mobile Office on it, so I can read my gazillion scanned books or jot in my journal. It has Windows Media Player; so if I want a dose of music I can get some off my 32GB card. And it doubles as my phone! At one time I thought I would not like using my phone for all this extra stuff. I thought I needed to devote the phone to talk time--I didn't want to be caught out with a dead phone and not be able to call for a ride. That was before I discovered the extended battery. I haven't loaded the GPS software yet, and I don't know how that will tax the battery; but it does charge within a reasonable amount of time.
This all brings me to my point(s).
- I have a huge library of scanned books. Do I really need a Kindle?
- I often feel noise polluted and deprived of companionship. Do I really need music all the time?
- And finally, do I need a device just because it is new? I've already resisted upgrading to the Tilt 2 because my Fuze is only a year old.
The other day I took my phone with me to my chiropractor appointment. I spend 30 minutes on a table getting electrostimulation therapy, and during this treatment I am face down. The room is often full, and people converse; but my voice is too soft and I cannot participate well. So I thought I would read while I was on the table.
I didn't realize that reading would affect me negatively. I felt very disoriented and disconnected from the room; and I realized that even though I wasn't participating in the conversations, I had been tuning in very purposefully to what people were talking about. I had been intentionally getting to know them. I know that usually J is on the table across from me, B is next to me, a husband and wife are on the tables next to J... When I am done with the table, I get another treatment procedure in a chair and I am able to converse... I am often across from the same person and he and I have learned enough about each other to begin greeting each other. If he comes in while I am on the table, he will stop and greet me there. If I am reading, I cannot greet him.
The phone has the power to disconnect me from the world. I'm not sure I want that! It is a good tool; but it does not need to be such a power over me.