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| June 13, 2012
Apple Pulls App That Gives Disabled Children The Chance To Speak
Once again, Apple continues to show that there is no logic to how the App Store is policed. But this time, instead of some scam Pokemon game, a much more important app has been removed, according to Time. Speak for Yourself served a very simple purpose – give a voice to disabled kids who can't speak. Instead of using larger devices that can cost more than $8,000, parents were able to do what amounted to the same thing for the cost of an iPad and the $299 app. But unsurprisingly, the makers of the larger, more expensive devices had issues. Prentke Romich Company and Semantic Compaction Systems jointly filed a lawsuit against the speech pathologists behind the app claiming it infringed on more than 100 software patents. The app designers deny the claims. Even though the suit is still winding its way though the legal system and there was never any direct judicial order for the app to be pulled, Apple decided to play judge, jury, and executioner by removing Speak for Yourself. And pulling the app does have real consequences for parents like Dana Nieder and her 4-year-old daughter Maya. As Nieder explains in a blog post, the app opened up a new world for her daughter.
Maya can speak to us, clearly, for the first time in her life. We are hanging on her every word. We've learned that she loves talking about the days of the week, is weirdly interested in the weather, and likes to pretend that her toy princesses are driving the bus to school (sometimes) and to work (other times). This app has not only allowed her to communicate her needs, but her thoughts as well.Rightfully so, Nieder worries about how the app will work with future iOS versions since the designers can't issue any more updates. Apple obviously knows that its technology has rapidly changed how children with disabilities communicate with the world, even highlighting a case during the WWDC keynote on Monday. Maybe Apple should have let the issue be fully decided in the court system before pulling an app that obviously has such a positive effect on Maya and countless other children. Or maybe, even better, Prentke Romich Company and Semantic Compaction Systems should design iPad apps of their own. What's wrong with a little competition? Source: Time