Privacy Concerns Don’t Help Blind Users

Mobile media has the ability to take the form of a social justice tools for the fair treatment of people. There are a large amount of issues that are presently being tackled by a digital philosophers. Social justice must be supported by the people who can challenge the fairness of society. Today, social justice requires digital philosophers to work together and are able to design tools to reflect fairness into all parts of society.

Since today’s society is one that is extremely visual in how information is processed, a mobile application that can help the impaired understand their environment could provide to be beneficial for millions of people. According to the Light and Luckin reading, Learner-generated content is “becoming a significant feature of the educational landscape”[JISC 2007].

The Color ID Free application, found in the Apple App Store is “an augmented reality app for discovering the names of the colors around you!” The application uses the camera on the iPhone to “speak the names of colors in real-time.”  The app is designed to be used by everyone, including those suffering from social justice issues. “It can be a useful app for the blind and visually impaired, but I think it’s fun for everyone”

When using the app, the learner-generated content becomes apparent immediately. Upon opening the Color ID app, the color of whatever the camera is seeing is spoken to the learner. This gives those who are blind or vision impaired “a powerful way of stimulating both the individual and collective learning, as well as supporting social processes of perspective-taking and negotiation of meaning that underpin knowledge creation”[JISC 2007 : 185]. The colors that appear in the physical world hold meaning to those who “see” them.

Problems arise in the app when notions of privacy are examined. The user of the app is essentially recording the environment around them, and in a public space, inappropriate circumstances make themselves present. Stores are beginning to recognize that a camera can be an harmful tool and are beginning to ban it. As seen in Chapter 1: MannGlass “Business establishments like T&T Supermarket are actually in violation of the law because they forbid the use of a seeing aid in their establishment.I wasn’t recording anything until I was told such activity was forbidden. Once told to stop recording (which I wasn’t doing), I started recording, so that I would have evidence of their illegal activities” What would the user of Color Id do if the privacy concerns of the public prevents them from properly using the social justice app?

There are omnipresent issues for digital philosophers and their fight for social justice. Privacy concerns being just one aspect of the fairness of society today. The future of augmented reality will provide support for social justice apps because they will allow greater access and accuracy than the social justice apps that are around today.

Works Cited

Color ID Free. (n.d.). Retrieved March 8, 2014, from

Denvir, D. (2013, March 6). Police Brutality in the iPhone era.

LIGHT, Ann and LUCKIN, Rosemary (2008). Designing for social justice : people, technology, learning. Discussion Paper. Futurelab.

Mann, S. (2013). Chapter 1. In MannGlass, SpeedGlass, Googlass, and The Veillance Contract.


One thought on “Privacy Concerns Don’t Help Blind Users

  1. The idea of helping the blind learn the concept of colors is extremely innovative. This can lead to a much easier process for if a blind person receives a transplant and is able to see again. This is also great for colorblind people as this can help them to be more discreet about their visual impairment. The only concern I would have for this is how sensitive the camera is to other object in the picture. Also, what happens when something has multiple colors?

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