Monthly Archives: February 2018

Freshly Squeezed Op-Ed: HomePod Brings Me Accessibility

Just a quick one. Apple has long been in the forefront of making their software accessible. They’ve done fantastic work for the visually impaired. And to show how seriously they take this, there’s an Accessibility Preference in System Preferences on the Mac OS. And under General>Settings>Accessibility in iOS 11 there are adjustments that benefit the hearing impaired.

Now, as I have mentioned before, I have MS and am wheelchair bound. I’m independent but some things require extra effort and forethought. One example is getting into bed. Because I still retain some tone in my legs, I can perform standing transfers. It requires a bit of gymnastics and engineering to get into my bed each night but I manage to accomplish it.

For pragmatic reasons, I’m considering purchasing Apple’s HomePod. Not for it’s musical abilities (I love listening to music through a set of Sennheiser cans and purchase uncompressed music every now and again) but for how it can help me with my independence day-to-day.

Let me set up my scenario. I live alone but can cook, do my laundry, bathe, drive, etc. But once I’m in bed, there I stay. If I have to get out of bed repeatedly (as little as two times, some nghts) my legs become fatigued and become less responsive. Then what happens is I take the easy way out; lean against the wall in my power chair for the night.

HomePod would enable me to avoid these situations. Say I’m in bed and forgot to shut off a light or something of that nature. Instead of going through all the physical steps necessary to accomplish the task, I merely ask Siri to take care of the issue for me, allowing me to return to sleep. In this case, the hardware provides my accessibility.

Now, I know that I can accomplish this for a fraction of the cost with similar devices but I’ve been steeped in the Apple ecosystem for two and a half decades now. And I wanna keep everything that way. I don’t want to introduce other OSs.

Of course, I could accomplish simple things with my iPhone and HomeKit. But I’m intrigued by what else I may be able to do in the future when AirPlay 2 arrives on the scene. Will I not only be able to use it with my TV but somehow my regular HDTV? And you know that people are already are thinking of work arounds for that! And if I can afford a second one, will FullRoom provide me with a better listening experience in my studio apartment?

Even though my iPhone rests in my Qi chatger every night on my nightstand, I could listen from bed to audio podcasts or the day’s news with better sound quality than my iPhone could provide.

Plus, truth be told, t gives me an excuse to buy another toy.

Funny, I’ll bet Apple never envisioned that the HomePod could be an an important accessibility device. But there you are. That’s my driving force to acquire one.

©2018 Frank Petrie

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