A plea for realistic reviews of Mac Apps, using Adium as an example
Under Accessibility Comments for Adium in the Mac App Directory, it simply says “Works perfectly.”
Under Usability, it says “The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver and is easy to navigate and use.”
While these statements may be true, they do not tell the true story.
The truth is that without some considerable configuration at the start, Adium is not usable in any meaningful way by a VoiceOver user.
If we compare the experience of using MSN messenger on Windows, with a screen reader such as JAWS, to using Adium with VO, the difference is startling.
When using MSN messenger, you hear a sound when a friend logs in, a sound when they have sent you a message and have a keystroke to read that message to you. When using Adium, you hear a sound when a friend logs in.
When using MSN messenger, you have single keystroke access to the last ten messages, with message 1 always being the newest and message 0 the oldest. In Adium, the messages from you and your friend appear in an HTML area, with the most recent message being at the bottom. You navigate this HTML area using standard VO commands and in my experience, end up spending a lot of time listening to your own messages.
The good news is that it is possible to configure Adium to give the VO user a much more pleasant and useable chat experience. My point is that by not mentioning this and by insisting that Adium works perfectly and is easy to use, this does a disservice to new Mac users and potentially damages the credibility of the Mac platform for visually impaired users.