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More information about Abilene Christian University and possible accessibility of iPhone/iPod Touch

Posted Aug 24 2008 10:33pm
This is an update to the post I originally wrote last week about

Abilene Christian University

(ACU) giving iPhone and iPod Touch players to incoming freshmen. Due to the new information I have to share, I’m writing this as a separate post.



Just to let you know, I still have not received a reply to the email I sent to Lynne Bruton, ACU’s media contact person, in which I inquired how the university planned to address the accessibility concerns for any freshman students who are unable to use the Apple products due to a physical disability.



Perhaps the reason I have not heard from her is that Ms. Bruton Does not consider a blog traditional media. One would believe that a university that is so quick to embrace technology such as the Apple devices would similarly acknowledge a blog as new media as well. Even if the university does not want to acknowledge this blog, one would at least expect that they would want to address a concern as legitimate as a question about the accessibility of the university’s implementation of a required technology .



After all, when the school has

developed nearly two dozen applications

for use on the iPhone and iPod Touch that will need to be used by both students and faculty alike, the device becomes an integral and mandatory part of participating in the university’s programs. It would seem obvious that accessibility for everybody would be an important concern. However, my query about the university’s plans to address these needs continues to go unanswered.



All is not lost, though. There was a big announcement on the Apple technology front which may be of interest to the administrators at ACU. Apple chief Steve Jobs held a press conference yesterday to announce the release of the beta of the

Apple Software Development Kit,

or SDK, which will allow third-party (a.k.a. non-Apple) software developers to create software applications that will run on the iPhone and iPod Touch. This means that somebody with a concern about accessibility might already be creating the applications that will allow access to the Apple devices for those who are physically unable to use the touchscreen.



The full version of the SDK won’t be released until June. This means that users won’t be able to access any of the programs developers have created until then. Let’s see…June is just two months before August, when fall classes traditionally begin. That timeline might work for ACU to get some accessibility modules in place for the Apple products. Then again, it also might not.



To further spur innovation in this area, Kleiner Perkins, a well-established venture capital firm in the Silicon Valley, has set up a

$100 million fund

to invest in new companies who are seeking to develop iPhone applications.



Are you listening, ACU?



Note: I sincerely promise that I am not on a quest to bash Abilene Christian University. I had sought input from the university to offer their plan on addressing accessibility concerns with the Apple products. I am just asking for a reply. Anybody in authority at ACU may feel free to

contact me.
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