Blackberry or other smartphone makers cannot afford to alienate the 30+ million people with hearing loss in the United States by making smartphones not-user-friendly. Though the popularity of Blackberry may be due to issue of reliability and ease of use. There was a clue in a forum back in 2004 with thread titled, "Benefits of BlackBerry for the Deaf & Hard Of Hearing" that may have initially gotten deaf and hard of hearing to consider Blackberry first. The reliability factor came up again in 2007. Though things have changed over the last 6 years since 2004 but that may be changing again in favor of Blackberry once again. Perhaps the changeover was due to a recent snafu from T-Mobile's Sidekick data plan last year. Did the well advertised snafu that affected 800,000 subscribers in 2009 helped shape the perception of Sidekick as unreliable seeing the Blackberry as the better and stable option, not to mention reliable?
Accessibility refers to the extent to which a product or service can be used by as many people as possible. In this context,accessibility means designing applications so that people with disabilities or impairments can use the applications on a BlackBerry® device.
When you design your BlackBerry device application, consider the following users:
• blind people
• visually impaired people
• colorblind people
• deaf people
• hearing impaired people
• speech impaired people
• people with motor impairments
• people with cognitive or learning disabilities
Like any other group of users, people with disabilities or impairments have needs, wants, and expectations about the behavior of applications. Some of the reasons to make your applications accessible to as many users as possible include the following possible benefits:
• Social responsibility: Making it easier for people with disabilities or impairments to benefit from the functionality that your application provides can promote equality and is the right thing to do.
• Market share: Ensuring that your application can be used by people with disabilities or impairments increases the number of people who can purchase and benefit from your application.
• Compliance: Addressing the applicable guidelines and regulatory requirements (such as Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act in the United States) that dictate that your application must be accessible by people with disabilities or impairments can allow you to enter certain markets.
Because the Sidekick didn't evolve as fast as other smartphones, many users--deaf and hearing alike--moved to the BlackBerry and other devices. And after their recent experiences, many of the remaining Sidekick users in the deaf community have said they are considering jumping ship, once their T-Mobile contracts end.Not only it wasn't about the lack of evolving but about a total failure when the Sidekick was announced by Microsoft with grim news last year, a hard lesson when things do fail catastrophically much to consumers' horrors.
"I am going to look into Sprint's BlackBerry, which more and more deaf people are taking up, and have complimented, and (said) that it is a lot more reliable," McCraw said.
Lisa Gault, a deaf Sidekick owner in Katy, Texas, said she in an e-mail interview that she relies on the Sidekick as a means to stay in touch with her family.
"It's a way for the school to get a hold of me, if something were to occur with my son who is (not deaf)," Gault said.
Gault said that even short of an emergency, it is a problem not to get her e-mail for an extended period.
"It's annoying, as my friends think I'm ignoring them, when in reality, I didn't get the e-mails yet," Gault said. "It really put the deaf community at more of a disadvantage--more so than for hearing people, since we're so reliant on e-mail (devices) to keep in touch."
There is no official word on the death of the Sidekick from Microsoft or Tmobile, but it certainly looks bleak for the iconic device.No back up servers? No built in redundancy to ensure smooth flow of communication and saved data? I may not know much of what transpired but a failure of this magnitude isn't a good thing in anybody's book. Might as well see it as "DOA" and no need to try resurrect an image brand that was mortally wounded. People will jump ship because of that.
This week, Microsoft announced that they had lost all Sidekick user data including pictures, contacts, calendars and other information from the Danger's servers. Since the devices sync with the servers, the devices also lost the data. The Sidekick data services had amazingly been out over a week.
From what they say, after a week of investigation, there is no way to retrieve the user data. Customers will have to start over. The word on the street is that it was a Hitachi SAN upgrade failure.
But customers will be happy to know that Tmobile is offering a free month of data (not a free month of service, just the $20 unlimited data plan) for all of their information. I really hope a lot of Sidekick users used the Intellisync software that pushes data to the desktop and would have backed their data up.
T-Mobile has halted the sale of new Sidekicks. All models are now showing "temporarily out of stock" on the company's website.
I'll continue my investigation about Blackberry among deaf and hard of hearing users and why they use the smartphone. If you're deaf or hard of hearing and use a smartphone, go to my poll and select a phone brand that you are currently using.