Tribute to an Advocate for the Blind
By Michael Lauf
while I only spoke with him three times, all under the guise of getting interviews for the SeroTalk Podcast, Torsten was always polite, knowledgeable, and passionate about his efforts to give the blind and low vision community access to mobile phones.
Torsten was one of the very few people I have met that had nothing bad to say about his competitors. When possible, he worked with them in the friendly spirit of co-opetition.
The last time we spoke was at ATIA 2010 in Orlando in late January. We talked for quite a bit after I shut off my Sony recorder, with its furry windscreen that has been nicknamed the furry nipple.
I remember feeling guilty that I spent so much time with him when there were so many other interviews to be conducted.
Let this be a reminder to me, and those of you reading this, to make the most of each interaction we have; for who knows when, or even if we shall ever meet again.
I remember being surprised that he didn’t blow me off, as many will do during what is understandably a very busy event. The three things I remember him saying were that his favorite Symbian phone is the Nokia N86. He said Apple could learn from Nokia how to build a phone, and Nokia could learn from Apple how to improve the user interrface.. and I remember him comparing the iPhone to Nokia phones by saying the iPhone was like a girlfriend that amused you for awhile, but the Nokia was a true partner, and the one you wanted to take to bed every night.
As a latecomer to talking phones, getting the Nokia N82 with Talks 3 dot something in June of 2008, I honestly have no clue what the pioneers went through to bring screen readers for phones to the point they have evolved to today. I wish more people used the accessibility products they create as Torsten did. Who knows where we would be today. Suffice it to say, we are all better off through his work and contributions to accessibility, and he will truly be missed by myself and many others.
To learn more about Torsten, you may also wish to read and listen to:
Mike Calvo Introduces the First Talking Cell Phone/PDA Using Talx, the Nokia 9290, December 2002.