Nickie Coby (puppybraille) wrote,
Nickie Coby
puppybraille

Geek to the beat

Last week
Amazon
released a beta version of it's music download service. This was a surprise to me, in more ways than one.

It surprised me because I don't really believe every rumor on every blog I read, so I wasn't expecting it. Even when I do think something is coming, I don't know if it will end up applying to me.

But the biggest reason I was surprised was that, shock of shocks, it was accessible! I'm not talking "slap on a screen reader users click here" link and say "if you use your screen reader like a pro you should be able to access our service" accessible. Rather, I'm talking truly accessible in the sense that if you know how to use your screen reader on Amazon, you can download music. I won't go into how to do this here, but rather, I'll discuss why this is so exciting to me.

For years, I've been envious of sighted iPod and iTunes users. Neither product is accessible enough that I want to support Apple with my financial resources, because mostly, you have to retro-fit solutions onto both products, and it's not an easy process. So I have not been able to legally download music and play it on a player which is optimized for music.

True, I did have a Book Port, which served me well. But it's designed for books, and, in my opinion, isn't optimized for music playing. So, those files that I did have, ripped from CDS or by some other means, were pretty much tied to my laptop, BrailleNote, cell phone or a small Creative MuVo or Zen Stone. None of these really did what I wanted. A cell phone plays music, but audio on a cell phone isn't optimal for music listening. The Creative players worked, but didn't give me any audio feedback other than the music. In other words, I couldn't easily skip to the country folder after doing relaxation exercises. The BrailleNote is excellent, but larger than I always want to carry around. There are very specific tasks I do with my BrailleNote, and in making choices of folder structures, I'd planned more for school.

In short, I wanted a cute player which did music well, and which gave me information. That came in the form of my Stream, which I primarily use for books, but which I can also, quite easily, use for music. It's optimized for both.

So, with the creation of an accessible, affordible downloadable music service, and my Stream, I'm now set. I can listen to music, and do it with the same ease, cuteness, and enjoyability of an iPod. It just so happens that I do it differently. I know we've arrived in one area, when sighted friends and colleagues say "I wantt one of those."

When I hear comments like that, I want to dance. It means we're at a point where we as people with disabilities have something others want, not because it's "inspirational" or "different" but because it does what we all need (read and listen to music), bbut also has a "coolness" factor too.

Tags: accessibility, college, disability related, music and movies, tool box, travel
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