Archive for January, 2010

Apple iPad image 1

I remember this once, we were a big group coming back from a trip and everybody was waiting for an already late aircraft. I was sorting my music folder on my laptop when a friend, poked me and asked if I had iTunes. Usually, I would have a rather snide remark for that kind of question. However, my friend, was not very much into tech and them latest trends, she owned a mac (not that all mac owners are tech impaired) and she was in her late fifties (I guess). I said no. Then I asked her if she wanted to listen to any particular song, I said I could download it for her. She smiled and said, ‘don’t waste money, I can listen to what you have’!

iPad Image 2

This got me thinking and ladies and gentlemen, here’s my train of thought… All my friends have some kind of collection of .mp3 files. Most of these files are the ones they borrowed from their friends. They all also know where to download these files from online… iTunes! Ask them for another such site and they draw a blank… some say napster, rhapsody and then move on to music streaming sites like pandora, 8 track, grooveshark, last.fm, raaga etc. Few knew that you can download tracks from the Windows Media Player, for example.

iPad Image 3

Point. iTunes is where one can buy music online, not .mp3 or ogg vorbis or .wma or .flv file. Music, you are sure will play on your expensive hardware, whose workings you have no clue about or care about. For every geek out there who swears by 320kbps encoded .mp3s, there are hundreds of normal people, who just want to listen to good music and would like a music service that is compatible, virus free and extremely easy to understand and navigate. This was how iPod ‘destroyed’ companies like creative, archos and philips in the late 90s. It wasn’t talking to the guys who were already salivating in on the kind of files or bit-rates the archos media player could handle, It talked to those who wanted to listen to more songs on their CD player. In fact it talked to one’s who liked music. Period.

The First iPod

iPad is talking to people who like portability. Period. It was a deja vu moment for me when I was reading about the press trying to figure out the whole point behind this device, and then comparing it to the Kindle, Nook and some other e-book readers. It was like reading the press clip on the iPod launch all over again. iPad my friends, does not even support the .epub format!

Here’s what I would put next to the iPad.  Your college textbook, your office notepad, your netbook (is the cheapest Apple mobile computing device if you discount the iPhone, same netbook processing power too), your laptop, your phone to an extent. Sony PSP, Nintendo gameboy, the entertainment console on the economy class, your next expensive christmas gift, the Robert Ludlum you were thinking of picking up at the airport bookstore, even the Xboxes and the PS3s!

iPad Image 4

iPad is catering to a generation of people who are either tech averse or are just getting to understand tech, and are looking for an idiot proof device that is light, legible, feature rich and easy to use. They don’t care about the e-ink and 40 day battery lives. They don’t care if they can lend a book for ten days and about the millions of books available for download. They don’t care if it can cut, copy, paste or whether it has a 12 megapixel camera. Runs on linux (most are afraid of it if you ask me, ‘where are my documents?’, ‘this has no start button?’), Windows, Ubuntu, Moblin, Android….

They do care however, if the device lets you send text messages to friends, play high quality movies for ten hours straight and a bigger screen to watch them in, stream from youtube and update you about what’s happening on your social network, edit notes, play a game with friends wirelessly, store and play their favorite music, look lot, lot nicer than the cheap netbook bound in cheap plastic, lot more real estate on your economy class tray table and no more crazy ways of holding the laptop to watch a movie, have ‘turn by turn’ GPS assisted navigation, make calls, browse blazingly fast on the internet, have apps that tell them about juicy celebrity scandals, paint, draw, make presentations and best of all, have the same aspirational values as that of the iPhone, not to mention the user interface. This device is for people who don’t know or care about the options already available in the market. Estimates put the Kindle sales at about a couple of million devices, iPad is looking at a market atleast ten times that, in my opinion.

iPad Image 5

iPad is a much bigger problem for the visually impaired than the Kindle. The latter at least has a physical keypad. I see the iPad replacing a lot of mobile computing devices, primarily the ones we use for leisure. iPad will have a far greater acceptance in the student community than any other e-reader, might soon replace bulky textbooks with the kind of rich interactive content, the Kindle can only dream of. Unlike the Kindle which had to pitch to the universities, I see students opting in for an iPad, and making it ubiquitous enough for universities to look at a default formats for iPad consumption and participation in classrooms. Unlike the bulky tablet PCs we have, I see people using this device on their shop floors. Unlike the tiny gameboys kids play with during lunchtime, I see a more immersive team based social network games happening in the cafeteria on them spanking new iPads.

Jobs doing the iPad Demo

iPad is Apple’s answer to the netbook and more. It now is, in all probability, the default christmas gift for your loved one. Hope it does not become synonymous with e-book readers and netbooks, the way iPod is to portable media players.


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“Humour is a serious thing. I like to think of it as one of our greatest earliest natural resources, which must be preserved at all cost.” -Joel Goodman

Through The Lighter Side of Disability, a channel on Inclusive Planet, we are doing our bit to preserve humour! This channel has become very popular with our members! I must admit that I go there for my daily dose of laughter too. 🙂
One of our users, Deon posted this article this morning, and we thought this was perfect to post here – what a blind person should be doing when they meet a sighted person.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Generally speaking: What a blind person should do when you meet a sighted person

People who use their eyes to acquire information about the world are called sighted people or “people who are sighted”. Legal sight means any visual acuity greater than 20/200 in the better eye without correction or an angle of vision wider than 20 degrees.

Sighted people enjoy rich, full lives working, playing and raising families. They run businesses, hold public offices, get arrested and teach your children!

How do Sighted People get Around?
People who are sighted may walk or ride public transportation but most choose to travel long distances by operating their own motor vehicles, usually one passenger to a car. They have gone through many hours of extensive training to learn the rules of the road in order to further their independence. Once that road to freedom has been mastered, sighted people earn a legal classification and a driver’s license which allows them to operate a private vehicle relatively safely and independently.

How do you assist a sighted person?
Sighted people are accustomed to viewing the world in visual terms. This means that in many situations they will not be able to communicate orally and may resort to stammering, pointing, hand waving or other gesturing. Subtle facial expressions may also be used to convey feelings in social situations. Calmly alert the sighted person to his or her surroundings by speaking slowly in a normal tone of voice. Questions directed at the sighted person help focus attention back on the verbal rather than the merely visual.

How do sighted people remember things?
Often they don’t remember things. In fact this is one of the most painful aspects of the visual affliction, the degree to which sight inhibits detailed memory. Often, the sighted person must reacquire the same information each time it is needed. You can help by being sensitive to their struggle by learning to anticipate their need and providing them with the information they need when it is necessary. Don’t tell them too much too quickly. Be sensitive to the capacities of the individual with whom you are dealing. These limitations vary from person to person and it is deeply upsetting to a sighted person to realize that you recognize their mental short comings.

At times sighted people may need help finding things, especially when operating a motor vehicle. Your advance knowledge of routs and landmarks, bumps in the road, traffic lights will assist the sighted person in finding their way quickly and easily. Your knowledge of building layouts can also assist the sighted person in navigating complex shopping malls and office buildings. Sighted people tend to be very proud and are reluctant to ask for assistance. Be gentle yet firm.

How do sighted people use computers?
The sighted person relies exclusively on visual information. His or her attention span fades quickly when reading long texts so it is best to write in bulleted lists of very brief items. The use of bright colors will help the sighted person stay focused. Computer information is presented to the sighted in a graphical manner to assist them in comprehending their world. Coordination of hands and eyes is often a preoccupation with sighted people so the computer mouse, a handy device that slides along the desk top, saves confusing keystrokes. With one button the sighted person can move around his or her computer screen quickly and easily, if not necessarily efficiently. People who are sighted are not accustomed to synthetic speech and may have great difficulty understanding even the clearest synthesizer, falling asleep between syllables or becoming distracted by a spot on the carpet. Be patient and prepared to explain many times how your computer works.

How do sighted people read?
Reading is accomplished by the sighted person through a system called “print,” which is a series of images drawn in a two dimensional plain. People who are sighted generally have a poorly developed sense of touch. Braille is completely foreign to them and severe bouts of disorientation can sometimes result from over exposure to the use of the higher senses.

Sighted people cannot function well in low lighting conditions and are generally completely helpless and often devastatingly frightened in total darkness. Their homes are usually very brightly lit at great expense as are businesses that cater to the sighted. Naturally these costs are passed on to the consumer.

How can I support the sighted person?
People who are sighted do not want your charity. They want to live, work, and play alongside you on as equal a basis as possible. You must ignore their tendency to display feelings that they are superior to you. Failing to allow them this delusion may promote aberrant and antisocial behavior. The best thing you can do to support sighted people in your community is to simply open yourself to their world and help open their limited world to the bounty of your experience. These citizens are vital contributing members of the community, real people with thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams and a story to tell. Take a sighted person to lunch today and make them feel like you truly care.

Author Unknown

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A poster that ask the viewer if they are STILL scanning books?

Looking for Accessible Class Notes?

Log on to http://www.inclusiveplanet.com

Through the Accessible Class Notes Project, visually impaired students across the world are sharing their class notes with each other. Now you won’t have to scan something which somebody else already has!

It’s all here on Inclusive Planet!

Please share this link with all the students, teachers and parents you know!

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CALGARY — Brian McKeever’s date with the Olympic history books is scheduled to become official Friday at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

The 30-year-old Calgary native will be unveiled as a member of the 2010 Olympic cross-country ski team. Next month in Whistler, B.C., — barring injury — McKeever will become the first winter athlete to ever compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics and the first Canadian to ever accomplish the double.  Legally blind, McKeever has won seven Paralympic medals with brother Robin serving as his guide.

“I understand,” he said. “People hear some blind guy is trying to make it to the Olympics, and they think that’s crazy.”

Check out the full story http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/2010wintergames/Blind+skier+Brian+McKeever+compete+Olympics+Paralympics/2469554/story.html

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study LAST minute!

Poster with text in bold that says study LAST minute! with the Accessible Class Notes Project

Looking for Accessible Class Notes?

Log on to http://www.inclusiveplanet.com

Through the Accessible Class Notes Project, visually impaired students across the world are sharing their class notes with each other. Now you won’t have to scan something which somebody else already has!

It’s all here on Inclusive Planet!

Please share this link with all the students, teachers and parents you know!

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We are excited to announce that we have launched Inclusive Planet in Spanish!

Within a month of the launch of our english site, we received requests from members of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, that they wanted our planet to be accessible to all their country members. Ramy sent us this message ““Really the site is ausom, but please, can u add the arabic language in books, so i can spread it in the arab community?” Thats when we realized that language was becoming a barrier for people to access Inclusive Planet!

Of course we were open to the idea of launching the site in other languages, but the question was who would manage language localisations, and more importantly was there a population to justify the language localisations.

So as a pilot we decided to translate the site into Spanish, as the entire Latin American continent would benefit from the same. A big thank you to Anna EggemeyerCarlos and Oriol for making the language localisation possible!

In the coming weeks, thanks to Soner, Mustafa, OmerWael, we would be launching the site in Turkish and Arabic as well. If you want us to localize our site in your language do let us know, and we would be glad to work closely with you to make it possible.

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Over the last few weeks member activity on inclusiveplanet.com has grown by leaps and bounds! More planeteers are sharing files, adding friends, subscribing to channels, and having conversations, than ever!

We’re thrilled but we have our eyes set on the goal that will determine whether the Inclusive Planet project succeeds on not – reaching a critical mass of users soon! We need to get 10,000 more members by March 31, 2010 to be able to raise further funding for the project and realize the vision to make Inclusive Planet into a scalable platform for learning, entertainment, employment, policy change and business for not just thousands but millions of print-impaired people. The survival of our vision depends on this.

The world is a big place and we’re having a hard time getting the word about us out to different countries. We’ve never needed you more.

10 things you can do to help us achieve Project 10k!

  1. Invite your friends with visual impairment to be a part of Inclusive Planet
  2. Mailing Lists: Write about us on the various mailing lists you are part of.
  3. Share leads of organizations, and persons with whom we could collaborate and spread the word about our service.
  4. Become a country evangelist: Soner from Turkey and Wael from Egypt are Inclusive Planet evangelists. They have helped us translate the site into their local language, and spread the word about us in their countries. Contact us if you feel you can become a country evangelist.
  5. Follow us on twitter, and tweet about us
  6. Fan us on Facebook, as more fans on means the greater is the probability of a person with visual impairment discovering us.
  7. Blog about our work to spread the word
  8. Press Coverage: Each press coverage has helped us reach out to more users, so do write to us if you have some contacts in the press who can spread the word by writing about us.
  9. If you run your own radio shows and podcasts, then interview our planeteers and get them to share the Inclusive Planet experience
  10. Last but not the least, send us your ideas on how we could achieve Project 10k. You can write to us at contact@inclusiveplanet.com

This is incidentally our 100th blog post, and with your support and blessings, we will make it a memorable one by achieving Project 10k.

Together, there are no barriers 🙂

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