A new story has emerged that details how Steve Jobs reportedly helped make the iPhone more accessible for deaf people.
While speaking at the Tampa Bay Business 100 awards last night, Sean Belanger, CEO of visual relay service ZVRS, detailed how he originally reached out to Jobs with a shot-in-the-dark email.
ZVRS is an online service that uses an interpreter to relay calls between hearing and deaf people, and Belanger was interested in using the communication service with Apple’s FaceTime video calling.
Belanger, unsure of how to reach out to Apple, simply emailed Steve Jobs at his “[email protected]” email address, explaining who he was, what ZVRS did, and how he hoped FaceTime could help.
“In four days, I get a call from a guy who said ‘I’ve been told to help you, I don’t know why, I don’t know who you are, I work for Apple, and I can’t tell you who told me to call you,'” Belanger said during the Tampa Bay Business 100, according to CultofMac.
After the call, Apple reportedly flew three Apple engineers out to meet with Belanger in Clearwater, Fla. After a week of working with Belanger and the ZVRS team, the new communications service was up and running in time for launch on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In the past, Apple has tried to ensure its services are as accessible as possible for those with disabilities.
For example, Apple’s accessibility options in its current mobile operating system for iPhones, iPads, and iPods features VoiceOver, which reads on-screen text that’s below your finger, and “Speak Screen,” which reads the entirety of your emails, iMessages, books, and web pages aloud to you.
Apple also offers font adjustments and inverted colours and grayscale for the colour blind who require a higher contrast. Apple has also worked with hearing aid manufactures for its “Made for iPhone” hearing aids.
Apple’s introduction of FaceTime back in 2010, however, offered an easy way for deaf people to communicate through signing during video calls. Apple even highlighted that specific use-case in one of its FaceTime TV spots, which you can see below.