CES: Stevie Wonder pushes for gadgets for blind
At a show where the focus is more often about making devices skinnier, faster and bigger, blind music icon Stevie Wonder came to the Consumer Electronics Show with a more personal agenda: To convince electronics vendors to keep himself and other blind people in mind when designing the latest gadgets.
“One thing that’s always puzzled me is how I can have access to some of those great technologies,” he said in Las Vegas. “Our desire has been to be part of these technologies and be more independent.”
The musician, who uses a BlackBerry, said he was also happy to now be able to use an iPod (the nano can provide speech options that help navigation without vision). But he still had a wishlist of devices he would like to be able to operate by himself including a car, which he acknowledged could be tricky and a satellite radio, which should be less tricky.
Wonder appeared with other advocates for the blind who bemoaned the proliferation of touchscreen controls on devices as they are difficult for blind consumers to use.
Mike May, President of GPS maker Sendero Group, summed up his frustration saying that while he and other blind people had managed to overcome incredible challenges, difficulties with touchscreens seemed insurmountable.
“Ski 60 miles an hour downhill? Yes. Use a flat panel microwave? No.”
May also cited another blind adventurer saying “Climb Mount Everst? Yes? Use a touchscreen, no.”