The Lives He Touched…

Louis Braille…Helen Keller…Steve Jobs…

If that list seems incongruous, it isn’t. There are few throughout history who have had as profound an impact on the lives of the visually impaired as Steve Jobs.

He wasn’t an engineer, or a scientist, or a mathematician. He was, at his core, a man who saw beyond the limitations of the present to the possibilities of the future, and how that future could, and in fact should, be inclusive to all, regardless of an individual’s limitations or abilities.

A few of those who have contributed to this site over the years have shared their thoughts on the loss of Steve Jobs. The pieces below do not try to tell a cohesive story. They are meant only to offer a glimpse into the lives of a handful of individuals among the multitudes whom Steve Jobs’s vision touched.

From Josh de Lioncourt

There are few areas of my life that have not been touched by Apple Inc., and there is no other company that more purely embodies the vision and soul of its founder than does Apple of Steve Jobs.

As a young, blind child, the first computer I ever touched was an Apple II-E. It was made accessible with an Echo voice synthesizer, and my school had only a handful of diskettes with applications we could use. I wrote my first significant story on that computer, which went on to win a district-wide competition.

I wrote my first few lines of programming code on that machine as well, painstakingly picking apart the applications we had, figuring out how they worked and why, and then creating my own programs from what I had learned.

A few years later, the first computer of my own was an Apple II-GS, and I expanded my writing and coding abilities on that machine.

Fast-forward to today, as I sit here typing this piece on another Apple-made computer, and things have somehow changed both tremendously, and not at all.

From the books I read, to the software I’ve developed, to the prose I write, to the music I listen to or compose, to the friends and family with whom I keep in touch everyday, no part of my life has been left untouched by Steve’s vision of the future. My independence as a blind adult in the 21st century is far beyond what it would have been without Steve and the team he assembled at Apple, and my quality of life exceeds that of my wildest imaginings as a child.

But these wonderful opportunities and accomplishments aren’t nearly all of the story. If it wasn’t for Steve Jobs, his remarkable vision, and the thousands of talented people he gathered to realize his dream of a better future for the world, I would never have made the acquaintance of some of the greatest friends I have ever had in my life. Through the power of independence and equality he placed in the hands of the visually impaired community, he brought people together, including the group of fine individuals who contribute to Mac-cessibility, and who have enriched my life every bit as much as Apple’s products have. Steve knew how to incorporate a human element into technology, and he instilled that vision into the DNA of the company he founded, nurtured, and brought back from the brink in its darkest hour.

We mourn the loss of a great man today, but we will celebrate his vision of a brighter tomorrow forever.

Thank you, Steve.

From Darcy Bernard

As a rule, I’m not the type of person to become emotional at the death of someone I don’t know personally. However that was definitely not the case when hearing yesterday of the passing of Steve Jobs. As I looked through my twitter feed, I found that I was by no means the only one. For a while there, just about every tweet was someone expressing their sadness at Steve’s death.

I’ve always had tremendous respect for Steve Jobs. He always strived to make technology something for everyone. Of course this included those of us with disabilities. Back in 2006, he said during the WWDC keynote, that one of the most important aspects of the Mac was that anyone could use it. These weren’t just words. Now, every product that his company makes has accessibility built in to it. To date, no other main stream company can make this claim. I don’t know how much Steve Jobs himself was concerned with accessibility, but two things are clear. First, given his hands-on approach, if he didn’t think accessibility wasn’t important, it wouldn’t be in Apple’s products. Second, if Steve hadn’t returned to apple in 1997, the company would have likely gone under and we definitely wouldn’t have those accessible products.

I saw a quote in one of the tributes to Steve last night from author Neil Gaiman that I think we can all agree with. "Steve Jobs left the world a much better and more interesting place then he found it."

From John D. Panarese

I don’t think that the impact Steve Jobs has had on the world and technology will be fully realize for seen in its full perspective until years from now. That is the mark of a true visionary. Yes, many are aware of his or her accomplishments and contributions as they occur, but the “big picture” isn’t fully seen until their passing, unfortunately.

To the family of Mr. Jobs, and to Apple, my thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to you. How much Steve impacted my life as far as his innovations and contributions to technology and my independence as a blind person cannot be measured. I am truly saddened by the news of his passing, but I am thankful beyond measure for what he has done for us all. May he rest in well deserved peace.

From Holly Anderson

I am so very sad to hear about the death of Steve Jobs. While he’s not someone I knew personally or even met, I feel a profound loss. He, while leading apple, made several decisions that impacted my life greatly. I know that he was not totally responsible for accessibility in Apple products, it was a team effort, but he was the one who had final say at Apple. If Steve felt accessibility was not worth doing, he wouldn’t have done it. I can’t remember now the exact quote, but Steve said he wanted everyone to be able to use Apple products. Apple changed the landscape of accessibility forever, and I can’t help but feel he was somewhat responsible for that. He left behind an amazing legacy, and was taken from us too soon.

From M.J. Phoenix

Words are hard to come by when such a historic day sadly dawns such as the loss of Steve Jobs but I hope I can express an ounce of what I’m feeling today. The World lost someone so great.

Three years ago I invested in the world of Apple, purchasing my first macbook and iPod on the same day. Suddenly a world of mainstream technology was opened up to me for the same price as anyone else. And that was because a visionary was born fifty-six years ago. Someone who delivered countless innovative ideas that have changed the way in which the entire world interacts with technology. I bought into the accessible world of Apple three years ago but the influence of Steve Jobs’ work stretches way back before then. From the first time I touched a mouse on a computer as a school child, each time I changed a font on my school work, to the days of buying and listening to music, watching animated movies, Steve Jobs was behind all of that. His particular attention to detail was what made all of what he did stand out from the rest of the market and his vision of a world where technology should be accessed by all was what made things possible for all of us to use computers on every level, from iMacs to our iPhones and iPads to buying music online and so much more. He revolutionised the world in which we live through his vision for something that seemed to most out of reach but his determination, passion, drive and genius made Steve Jobs the man that we all came to admire and respect.

His long battle with the illness that sadly took him from us only made us admire him so much more because his greatest innovation came from those struggling times. I’ll always remember the cheerful manner in which he delivered every keynote and speech we saw, the determination to always get perfection, no matter the costs, and every great thing he contributed to our world that changed our lives. Very few can say they ever truly changed the world, but Steve Jobs, you certainly achieved that.

I never knew you as a person but I know your innovative spirit lives on in all of our lives. Rest in peace our dear friend. You are already missed!

From Anne Robertson

I woke up this morning to the news that Steve Jobs has died. Although not unexpected, it came sooner than I had thought.

When he had his liver transplant, I hoped it would be a new start for him as it was for me.

Anyone who thinks that making Apple computers accessible to the visually impaired was just a marketing strategy is sorely mistaken. When Steve Jobs became a millionaire in 1979, he gave a lot of money to a charitable organization set up to help blind people in India and Nepal. I’m sure it struck him as doubly unfair to make people who have more difficulty than others earning money pay extra for accessibility.

Steve’s suffering is over now, and I wish his family strength to get through the coming weeks and months.

From Keith Reedy

One of the saddest bulletins that I have ever received on my iPhone was the bulletin which told me that Steve Jobs had died.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Steve Jobs, but he changed my life completely, in that he changed the way that I access technology; first with the Mac in 2005 with the release of Tiger and Voiceover and then with the invention and release of my constant companion the iPhone.

I was there in the old days when the naysayers said that Voiceover was just a passing thing in order to comply with government regulations, but Steve knew better. Better accessibility for blind and low vision people was not the only thing on Steve Jobs’ mind, but it was part of the vision that became a reality and will live on long after Steve Jobs is buried.

This community would not have been born were it not for Steve Jobs. You and I would not have the freedom of technology that we have today were it not for Steve Jobs. Today and for some days to come, I mourn the passing of maybe the greatest innovator the world has ever known. I am praying for Steve’s family and I am trusting that Steve Jobs will truly rest in peace.

From Eric Troup

This morning was a typical morning in my house, which is to say, my life. I woke up to the sound of my iPhone’s alarm. I turned over, shut off the alarm, and set my phone to play my Wake-up playlist with its iPod feature. I then got myself a drink and read my morning news articles with my iPad. After that was done, I made plans to go to the Portland Apple store, that being the closest to me, to replace my computer’s battery. In fact, as I write this on my MacBook, we are driving to Portland. What do all these things have in common? Apart from my drink and the car (and Portland), almost every noun in this paragraph was made possible by a man who changed the world for many, many people.

That man is Steve Jobs.

And he has ruined my life.


p>As a blind computer user, I used to be quite content to type away on my Windows desktop, having been granted the ability to read its screen by paying upwards of $800 above and beyond the cost of the computer itself. I was content to only use a cell phone for phone calls, unless I wanted to pay an additional $300 or more for the price of an add-on screen reading software package. I was content to look down my nose with smug superiority at people who spent so much time browsing the web, texting, and doing all manner of things with their phones other than making phone calls. I justified this with statements like, "If their phone breaks, they’re really in trouble, huh?" or, "How lazy are we getting as a society? I like every thing to have its purpose."

And then Steve Jobs ruined me.

How, you ask?

Steve Jobs made a screen reading software package a part of the operating system which powered the Mac computer, as well as eventually taking that a step further and powering the iPHone as well, not to mention every other Apple product line. No longer must I pay extra for access to my technology. No longer can I sit idly by when companies like Amazon give the blind consumer bare-bones attempts at accessibility in a not-so-subtle attempt at mollification. I now am forced by my conscience to stand up and shout to anyone who’ll listen that it isn’t enough. How do I know it isn’t enough? Apple proved it.

Perhaps lawsuits were instrumental in granting this accessibility, and perhaps they weren’t. We’ve seen what lawsuits bring about in terms of obligatory accessibility. (I’m looking at you, Kindle.) Even if lawsuits played a part, Steve Jobs went hundreds of miles above and beyond the call of duty, and has forever changed not only what is possible for accessibility, but also what is (or should be) expected from companies when providing accessibility.

No longer am I able to settle for whatever drippings the lords of the manor see fit to bestow upon me. I now have to live life knowing there’s a better way. Ignorance was bliss. I, and all of us who use Apple products, have been forever changed.

We lost Steve Jobs a few days ago, and he has left a vacancy which, I fear, will not soon be filled. If ever a man or woman embodied the creative spirit, that can certainly be said of Steve Jobs.

Thank you, Mr. Jobs. You may have ruined my life, but you’ve done so in the best possible way…

…and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

From Gordon Smith

Steve Jobs was one of those rare individuals with a gift for spotting an opportunity and a flare for turning that opportunity into something a bit special. In Steve’s case, it started off as a dream, culminating in something which changed the life of millions upon millions of people around the globe; in all walks of life, irrespective of computer literacy or IT skill levels.

Steve’s innovative talents gave us the Apple Macintosh range of desktop, notebook and tablet computers; followed shortly thereafter by an amazing range of mobile devices unsurpassed by anything else anywhere.

Steve, in conjunction with the team of software and hardware designers engineers he expertly assembled set the standards for 21st century information technology; encompassing devices usable by all, irrespective of abilities.

Those of us who never had the pleasure of meeting Steve personally nevertheless benefitted from his genius; and he’ll be sadly missed by his family, friends and customers alike.

Thank you Steve, on behalf of all of us whose lives you changed for the better. You will live on in our memories for many years to come, and your legacy will endure in the decades ahead, shaping the minds of millions.

From Cara Quinn

Dear Steve;

I just want to say thank you. You’ve opened up opportunities for me that mean so very much. In just a short time, you, and those you inspired did what many said was impossible, and in doing so, you changed my life.

How can I say anything else but ‘thank you!’ -And I’m not the only one whose life YOu’ve affected. There are many.

I hope that wherever you are now, that you know how you’ve touched so many lives in such a profound way. You’ve shared the gifts of opportunity, possibility, and inspiration with so many people. So I’ll say once again, simply, thank you so much Steven! -God speed to you. -Love and support to your loved ones. I wish you well on your journey.


Cara Quinn