We’ve previously discussed the benefits of running augmentative communication software on mainstream platforms, such as computers and iPhones, over having monopurpose AugCom devices. Cost efficiency is one argument; normalization another. But in the middle of this month’s moving Esquire interview with Roger Ebert, a striking advantage emerged: the broad functionality of mainstream tech permits creativity of expression in a way that developers of specialized devices might never foresee.
“This time, the anger [over Disney’s deletion of videos honoring Gene Siskel that were linked from Ebert’s website] lasts long enough for Ebert to write it down. He opens a new page in his text-to-speech program, a blank white sheet. He types in capital letters, stabbing at the keys with his delicate, trembling hands: MY TRIBUTE, appears behind the cursor in the top left corner. ON THE FIRST SHOW AFTER HIS DEATH. But Ebert doesn’t press the button that fires up the speakers. He presses a different button, a button that makes the words bigger. He presses the button again and again and again, the words growing bigger and bigger and bigger until they become too big to fit the screen, now they’re just letters, but he keeps hitting the button, bigger and bigger still, now just shapes and angles, just geometry filling the white screen with black like the three squares. Roger Ebert is shaking, his entire body is shaking, and he’s still hitting the button, bang, bang, bang, and he’s shouting now. He’s standing outside on the street corner and he’s arching his back and he’s shouting at the top of his lungs.”