May 16, 2019
“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI.”
That’s one of my favorite Tim Cook quotes ever, because it’s fiery and passionate and filled with righteous indignation. It’s not a side of Apple’s CEO we see almost ever. He’s typically the definition of cool and collected. But, when he feels that our core human rights under assault, be it security, privacy, or accessibility, that Tim Cook comes out.
And yes, Tim Cook’s Apple believes accessibility is a human right.
For people who have low or no vision, low or no hearing, low or no interactivity, primarily and absolutely. But also for people who’ve been injured and temporarily can’t use their dominant hand, are trying to watch Brooklyn 99 and the kids… or parents, just won’t stop talking, children who are trying to learn their first language or anyone trying to learn new languages, people who have just had surgery and you can’t move around a lot, or, like me right now, are suffering with what I can only assume are flood exacerbated allergies or infections that’s led me not to be able to see my phone or laptop properly at times, even drive, or do these videos.
Even for people who just want their device to be the way they want it. Bigger, smaller, brighter, darker, calmer, clearer, louder, lower, whatever. Because accessibility is also for everyone. Not just every day but any day you, me, anyone needs it.
And because today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I had the opportunity to chat with Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Director Global Accessibility Policy & Initiatives, about not just how important accessibility is to the company in theory, and not just how they implement it across their increasingly wide range of products and services, and for a diverse user base that represents a significant percentage of the world’s population, but how and why the evangelize it so that it becomes part of the conversation, of the table stakes, for everyone.