“I just feel like the inclusive spirit of bitcoin,” developer Adam Newbold explained, “is maximum inclusion and access for everyone,” he said when asked about his latest project, Icy Wallet, a cold storage wallet designed for the blind. “I think it’s especially important in bitcoin for people to be going out of their way to help people who face obstacles to getting there,” he said.
Satoshi’s Vision to the Blind
“No one should be forced to be reliant on other people to do things for them,” Mr. Newbold continued. He was also behind the Satoshi Nakamoto white paper being translated into braille with help from the American Printing House for the Blind.
Though the initial phase was fully crowdfunded for the first run of copies, Mr. Newbold continues to work toward ever-more being distributed to people who would never have the chance otherwise to encounter what amounts to a technological hinge of history (see graph above for real-time funding status).
Journalist Leigh Cuen writes how Mr. Newbold “has no vision issues” of his own. “He recently started learning how to read braille when his wife signed the whole family up for a braille weekend class, just for something different,” she notes.
Icy Wallet for the Blind is Part of the “Inclusive Spirit of Bitcoin”
Mr. Newbold “quickly became passionate about the idea of inclusive literacy and later struck up a conversation on Reddit with a blind bitcoin enthusiast,” Ms. Cuen reports. “When Newbold’s new online friend complained about the lack of options for visually impaired bitcoin users, Newbold pondered how to apply Satoshi’s ethos to this problem.”
Bitcoiners have been concerned about the topic of accessibility for some time. Three years ago Michael Staffen took to a popular forum in appeal for a community response during his intensely personal struggle with cancer. The disease had left him functionally blind. A portion is reprinted here without correction.
“This is making me very annoyed as I am a bitcoin supporter and I have acquired my own bitcoin I just cant god damn use them with out getting help from someone else,” Mr. Staffen ranted. “Multibit Is a java based wallet and as such, could have easily been made accessible if the Java accessibility JDk were included from the start,” he detailed. “If we want bitcoin to truly be successful, this has to be dealt with. Any ideas outhere in the readit ethos??”
Mr. Newbold’s efforts go a long way in bringing attention to Mr. Staffen’s and Mr. McGee’s concerns.
“Think about the issues of someone with very little vision or none at all,” Mr. Newbold told Ms. Cuen, “relying on this primary audio interface. Between homophones, for instance the word ‘nose,’ someone might capture that as ‘knows.’ It’s really important for the software to account for every possible facet of the blind experience,” he said, underlining the nuance and complexity of designing for particular disabilities.
Mr. Newbold’s progress getting Icy Wallet beyond its master branch testing stage, which he insists “should not be used with coins,” is coming along. Master branch commits are available for viewing. Though there is “no stable release at this time,” wallet generation is complete, as is the speech synthesis process which is combined with language localization, at the time of publication.