A Self-Proclaimed Gadget Lover: A Blind College Freshman with Assistive Technology
Martha Harris, a first-year student at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, is a self-proclaimed lover of gadgets. With her MuVo and iPod Shuffle MP3 players, she listens to music and books from Audible.com and Bookshare.org. On her Nokia 6682 mobile phone, equipped with the TALKS screen reader for access, she sends and receives text messages in addition to making and receiving telephone calls. On her BrailleNote PDA (personal digital assistant), she takes class notes, and on her computer equipped with the JAWS for Windows screen reader, she is a fan of MSN Messenger for instant messaging, Skype for live conversation, and iTunes for transferring music from CDs and the Internet to her iPod Shuffle. Her favorite tool for transferring music from her computer to her iPod is the program called Anapod Explorer.
Her attitude toward technology is this: “I can do anything I want to do, anything a sighted student can do, except reading CAPTCHAs!” (CAPTCHAs are the slightly distorted combinations of letters and numbers that have to be typed into a box before logging into some websites to prevent automated programs from logging in.)
This piece first appeared in “Staying on Course: Interviews with Students Who Are Blind,” by Deborah Kendrick, AccessWorld®, July 2007.
Editor’s Note: Since this AccessWorld article was originally published, Apple has incorporated VoiceOver, a built-in screen reader into its full range of products. The cell phone technology mentioned in the article has been replaced with the iPhone using VoiceOver and Android smartphones running Google’s TalkBack screen reader. Finally, CAPTCHAs can now often be solved using solutions such as CAPTCHA Be Gone from Accessible Apps.