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The Nillabyte Perspective: Technology

iPod nano Vs. iPod touch: Which Is Better For Blind Users?

Since both the iPod nano and the iPod touch come preloaded with accessibility features (assistive technology) geared to those with poor or no vision, one may wonder which serves blind users the most effectively. The fact is, they both do. But each has its own virtues and disadvantages, both from an accessibility stand point as well as from a basic feature-set standpoint. In this article, I have set out to describe some key points and differences in order to help those with visual impairments decide which is best.

iPod nano

The basic feature-set of the iPod nano is music, podcasts, audiobooks, pictures, TV shows, and movies. If that is all that the user needs or wants, the iPod nano handles these very well, and at a cheaper price when compared to the iPod touch (8GB currently $124 and 16GB currently $155).

As far as accessibility on the iPod nano, there is only a screen reader, but it works very well. There is an option to make the fonts on the screen large to assist those with low vision, but the "large" fonts really aren't much bigger than the regular-sized fonts and most people will likely find this option to not be useful. The screen reader responds instantly, and audibly tells the user what is selected. Since the iPod nano's menu is basically a list and sub-lists, navigating is extremely easy. And since there are physical buttons to press, some blind users may prefer the iPod nano.

For photos and video playback, most with lo vision will probably find the iPod nano's screen of 2.2" to be a bit small. With a proper magnifying lens, some users may find it adequate though, it simply depends on the type of vision impairment the user has.

iPod touch (Click here for a full review)

The basic feature-set of the iPod touch is vast. It does internet browsing, email, calendar, weather, stocks, notes, YouTube, and everything the iPod nano can do. Additionally, the iPod touch can download and run most of the apps and games found at Apple's App Store (link will open iTunes). The iPod touch uses WiFi (802.11g) to connect to the internet; a WiFi network is needed for some features to work, such as email and internet.

The accessibility features of the iPod touch are terrific. It can invert colors to turn the text white on a black background, it can zoom (or magnify), and it has a built-in screen reader. (Read this article for greater detail).

Because the iPod touch is a bit more advanced with its basic feature-set, the accessibility is more advanced when compared to the iPod nano. Navigation may take a while to master and it may be slow going at first, but once the user becomes accustom to the user interface and learns the finger gestures needed to navigate with accessibility, the iPod touch becomes an incredibly entertaining and useful device.

The features mentioned previously (internet, email, calendar, weather, stocks, notes, YouTube, music, audiobooks, podcasts, etc) come preloaded on the iPod touch and all are compatible with the accessibility features. The downside is that not all third-party apps and games found at the App Store are compatible with accessibility. You will have to ask others, or the app's creator, if a specific app is accessibility friendly. I wouldn't let this deter you though. As someone who is blind, I use the preloaded features of the iPod touch regularly and find them to be worth the cost of the iPod touch. Not only that, but I have found several apps and even some games that are accessibility friendly. Additionally, if sighted people will also be using the same iPod touch, they will be able to utilize all the apps found at the App Store. My children (who are fully sighted) love playing several children's games available for the iPod touch.

For photos and videos, the iPod touch will do a much better job than the iPod nano. It has a 3.5" wide screen, allowing those with low vision to more easily see photos and videos, and also to see everything else the iPod touch can do.

The iPod touch is a bit pricier than the iPod nano (32GB currently $259 and 64GB currently $344) but as I have already mentioned , the iPod touch's capabilities justify the price.

Additional Notes And Conclusion

If the user wants something simple and isn't very tech savvy, the iPod nano may be a better fit. Although its basic feature-set is small when compared to the iPod touch, it is still a very entertaining and easy to use player.

If the user has the patience and skills to learn the interface and finger gestures of the iPod touch, will regularly use internet, email, calendar, etc, and if they frequently have access to WiFi, the iPod touch is worth the price.

I own both an iPod nano and an iPod touch. I consider myself to be fluent with both and I still think the iPod nano is the easiest to navigate. But on the flip side, I feel that the iPod touch has the most to offer, offsetting the fact that it sometimes takes a few seconds longer to navigate.

Both the iPod nano and iPod touch require iTunes. If you have Windows, in order for iTunes to be accessible, Apple recommends using Window-Eyes, although others have found success with other screen readers. If you have a Mac, your machine already has all the accessibility features needed to use iTunes.

Currently, the 4th and 5th generation iPod nano are the only iPod nanos that support accessibility. Likewise, only the 3rd generation iPod touch (32GB or 64 GB) support accessibility.

Hopefully,this article has helped those of you who are curious about the differences between the iPod touch and the iPod nano and each of their accessibility options. If I left something out or if you have questions, please post a comment. You can also find support in our community forums.

iPod nano 8GB
iPod nano 16GB
iPod touch 32GB
iPod touch 64GB9

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  1. Samantha Nicole's Avatar
    Thanks Kyle. This is very useful. Iím sure that my friend is quite capable of learning the iPod touch, but for some reason, I feel that she would appreciate the nanoís simplicity. Now, if I can just get her to switch to a Mac ...
  2. Kyle Buckley's Avatar
    Quote From Samantha Nicole
    Thanks Kyle. This is very useful. Iím sure that my friend is quite capable of learning the iPod touch, but for some reason, I feel that she would appreciate the nanoís simplicity. Now, if I can just get her to switch to a Mac ...

    You are quite welcome. You can always have your friend read this article about Mac OS X accessibility.
  3. Mary's Avatar
    Thank you very much for this informative article. It has helped me to convince myself to get an iPod touch. I have a little sight, but not much. I think the zoom features of the iPod touch will work great for me.
  4. Lilly's Avatar
    Thank you so much for this article. I appreciate that you put forth the effort to help those with difficulties similar to yours. And I had no idea that the iPod touch had assistive technology built in. My teenage son recently lost most of his eyesight and is finding it hard to adapt. After I read this article and told him that the iPod nano and iTouch both have assistive technology he can use he was so excited. I now know what my husband and I will save up for for our son's Christmas present. Thanks!


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