Since the release of Dot last week, it has been featured in the news, leading to the article being shared all around the world, and receiving millions of views as well as thousands of comments. The article, regarding Dot, was tagged by countless families and friends of those in the visually impaired community, spiking interest, and pre-orders, in Dot. 100 people have beta- tested the Dot watch, and during this process, we have had the opportunity to meet with amazing people from around the world while gaining a better perspective on technology with the help of the visually impaired community. Our team went through the comments and did our best to address the concerns and respond to new questions; we were happy to find more than a few encouraging remarks.
“This sounds like an awesome device! Most braille device costs around $5000 or more.”
“Every time I see more about Dot the more impressed I am. You all are changing the world not only for the visually impaired and blind communities but for their families and friends as well. Thank you!!”
“How cool, I can’t wait! How will I be able to get it if I live in México?”
“I want one too for my girlfriend who is blind at 12. How can I pre-order?”
“Siri, You’re fired.”
People with ties to the visually impaired community, such as friends, family members, co-worker and so on understood and celebrated the technological innovation that is the Dot Watch. Of course, anything that is truly great will find its opposition.
“F***ing stupid idea, someone who is blind would get more use from an audio watch, oh wait, nobody has invented a watch that ‘talks’ the time. Now don’t reply with “What if they are deaf and blind”? If they are deaf and blind, they’ll be in 24-hour care, so they don’t need a watch.”
The following statement is in reply to the commentary above:
“My mom who is blind lives with her iPhone headphones in because she craves the privacy that audio description does not provide. When a person can’t see people, the tend to try not to attract attention to themselves because they can’t see reactions. Talking watches are quite loud and obnoxious. My mom lives in fear of people’s reactions to her because she was judged by people for being a mother (several people told her to her face that her children should be taken away). Until you are forced to live indiscreetly, please do not judge this technology so harshly.”
The original commenter’s reply of, “I’m out,” is a good indicator of a person who has little understanding of the day to day complications the visually impaired community face, from social to physical. Dot has a desire to address these issues and try to improve them. While reading through the comments, like the one above, one thing was made clear to the Dot Team, that most simply don’t care about the right of people with disabilities. We aren’t trying to make a statement on the intense topic of human rights activism, however a human has a right to keep their disability anonymous should they so choose. Yes, even those who are visually impaired- Strange how someone might want to avoid becoming a target, right?! 80% of those visually impaired lose their vision after birth, therefore there are a great number of people who lost their vision at some point after relying on it to read, look at art, admire their loved ones, and navigate life.
How it can change the world?
Last year we had the opportunity in London to exhibit Dot products. A French gentleman raised an interesting question that surprised me, while we were demonstrating our watch.
Q. I have a Siri on my iPhone (or voice-over/talk-back), Why on earth should I learn braille?
Unlike most questions which asked about the Dot Watch function, his question regarding the value of learning braille left us stunned. After I thought for a moment, I explained,
A. Sir, The choice is yours. I just let you know that Using Braille can be a wonderfully liberating yourself. For an individual to enjoy intellectual freedom, personal security, independence and have equal opportunities to study and work, one must be literate. There is no digital alternative can replace braille completely. And if you decide to learn Braille, Dot will be there.
I know we will continue to receive questions regarding the function, price and how to purchase Dot, nevertheless, we will also have to prepare for philosophical issues that ask why one should learn to read (braille), why should a government tax be spent on supporting an assisting device that will people with a visual disability, or what can these visually-impaired people do. We will continue by improving our technology because we know it is needed. We will continue to ask ourselves how the Dot can be improved to help others and how we can help change the world. Please join our journey in finding the answer.