NFB Passes Resolution Calling Apple's Software Testing 'Inadequate', Seeking Changes

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Update, 7/4/2016, 3:25 PM CDT: Members of the National Federation of the Blind have just passed Resolution 2016-04. The resolution, Resolution 2016-04, calls on Apple to "make nonvisual access a major priority in its new and updated software by improving its testing of new releases to ensure that nonvisual access is not limited or compromised." The resolution further calls on Apple to "work actively to incorporate feedback from testers who use VoiceOver during the beta testing phase of software development to ensure that accessibility for blind individuals is properly and fully addressed."


At its annual convention, members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)—a United States organization of, for, and lead by blind people—are considering passage of a proposed resolution concerning accessibility bugs in Apple Software.

The proposed resolution, Resolution 2016-04, calls on Apple to "make nonvisual access a major priority in its new and updated software by improving its testing of new releases to ensure that nonvisual access is not limited or compromised." The resolution further calls on Apple to "work actively to incorporate feedback from testers who use VoiceOver during the beta testing phase of software development to ensure that accessibility for blind individuals is properly and fully addressed."

This is not the first time that Apple has been the subject of an NFB resolution:

  • In 2014, Resolution 2014-12 was passed, calling on Apple to require that all iOS apps be made accessible. This included stock iOS apps developed by Apple, as well as a desire for a requirement that accessibility would not be lost during an app update.
  • In 2013, Resolution 2013-12 was passed, urging Apple to fully expand accessibility to the iWork productivity suite--specifically Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
  • In 2011, Resolution 2011-03 was passed, expressing the organization's "frustration and deep disappointment" with Apple for allowing the release of inaccessible apps on the App Store. The resolution further urged Apple, "in the strongest possible terms," to work with the NFB to develop a set of guidelines that would establish a minimum required level of accessibility for an app.
  • While not a resolution, in September 2009, the NFB presented Apple with a special award for its work making the iPhone accessible.

    The full text of proposed Resolution 2016-04, which will be debated and voted on by the convention on July 4, 2016, is below:

Resolution 2016-04

Regarding Apple’s Inadequate Testing of Software Releases

WHEREAS, Apple, Inc. has made VoiceOver, a free and powerful screen-access program, an integral part of many of its products, including the Apple Macintosh, iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV, and iPad; and

WHEREAS, when a significant software update for one of these products is released, there are often accessibility bugs that impact the usability of the product by blind users, causing them to lose their productivity or their ability to perform certain job duties when the use of Apple devices is required; and

WHEREAS, recent updates have included a large number of serious, moderate, and minor bugs that have made it difficult or impossible for blind people to perform various tasks such as answering calls, browsing the internet, entering text into forms, or adding individuals to the Contacts Favorites list; and

WHEREAS, for example, after iOS 9.0 was released, some iPhones running VoiceOver occasionally became unresponsive when getting a phone call, and there was no way to choose any option on screen; and

WHEREAS, although this issue was fixed in a new release of iOS, it would not have occurred if Apple had conducted more thorough testing with VoiceOver; and

WHEREAS, another example of inadequate testing by Apple involves VoiceOver failing to render the contents of the screen when a user attempts to add a contact to the Favorites list in the phone app and has multiple contact groups from which to select; and

WHEREAS, because Apple products and its accessibility tools are built by the same company, there is no need to share confidential information with partners that may affect the normal development of the software; and

WHEREAS, we recognize the efforts made by Apple to inform developers about the accessibility features built into Apple products and encourage the company to keep working in that direction; however several accessibility issues still appear with new software releases even when they have been reported during beta testing; and

WHEREAS, it is vital that Apple give priority to addressing bugs that have an impact on accessibility before releasing software updates: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 2016, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon Apple to make nonvisual access a major priority in its new and updated software by improving its testing of new releases to ensure that nonvisual access is not limited or compromised; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Apple to work actively to incorporate feedback from testers who use VoiceOver during the beta testing phase of software development to ensure that accessibility for blind individuals is properly and fully addressed.

We've reached out to Apple for comment.

What are your thoughts on this proposed resolution? Let us know in the comments!

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91 Comments

Just wow

All I can say is just wow. To me, it sounds like the nfb is trying to force apple to ask for feedback or whatever, but I could be way off the mark. I just don't even know. YOu'd think people would learn, but apparently not. Apple has been the subject of three nfb resolutions. No such resolutions have been made for microsoft and/or google. Makes you wonder.

Here they go again.

This is the same NFB who did the one from last year. It seen they have issues with apple. Yet probably high percentage of members have an iPhone. Beta testing means that those who want to help make iOS better need to to sign and give feedback. Instead of complaining, they need to urged all members who have an iPhone to be a beta tester to make the accessibility feedback better.

Just wrong.

I think this resolution is little short of outrageous. No one has worked harder on out of the box accessibility than Apple. No one continues to work harder to make sure all new software, new products and services are accessible from the get go. I'm not saying there haven't been problems, but in comparison to others in this field they are streets ahead. So why are they being victimised in this way year after year. I'll come right out and say what everyone else is thinking. Could it be that they have failed to sponsor the most money-grabbing, cynical and out for itself organisation that currently claims to speak for blind people in the US? One is forced to wonder.

Who knows?

Who knows? I don't really support the NFb or any other blindness organization. In an case, I agree that this resolution is pretty far out there.

No Mention of macOS?

Given the productivity/usability regressions that have occurred on macOS El Capitan and earlier, I'm surprised to have not seen this specifically mentioned.
More VoiceOver accessibility productivity/usability improvements are needed on macOS Sierra and later...

My Take

To an extent, I can see how this could be considered true, at least looking at Mac OS where I do think Apple should do more testing, fix bugs that I and many others report via the feedback app and keep fixing things in more than just the first 2 minor updates. I also wish that Apple's feedback app for testers wasn't as much of a one-way link as it is now where you're not even sure if someone looked at your reports, something which Microsoft just improved greatly in their version of public beta testing. But anyway, something tells me that the people who came up with this NFB resolution were mostly Windows users concentrating on iOS, and in the case of the iPhone their accusations are unfounded. Do bugs happen? Yes, but they are usually not big and are very likely to be fixed in future minor iOS revisions. It sometimes takes a few months for it to happen, but that's just the specific of iOS upgrades. Even if a bug is actually fixed quickly in the code there's always a release cycle until a build goes public, and it's not Android where they can just update VO on its own. As someone who is not living in the US, I have to say some of the actions and stances the NFB takes are very often just sad and this is no exception.

wine, bitch, and be ungrateful!

Seriously?
bugs come in any release of software, it's not only the blind users that bugs happen to
Interesting how only voiceover is mentioned in this, and not any other apple accessibility features.
what about platforms we didn't have access to for the longest time?
and have any of the people creating this thought about the fact that apple doesn't have to provide as good of technology as what they do?
sorry but sometimes i think people are way two often ungrateful.
I’m IOS and Mac all the way, and work from my macbook and iPhone.
I have had some accessibility issues, however have never not been able to use an apple pease of equipment that has voiceover (me being completely blind).
I hope this doesn’t not pass, and that we all still let apple know how well they are doing at giving us the same access to our electronics that my sighted wife, or your sighted brother, or her sighted husband has……….

agreed

totally agreed with the last comment.

Praise

I saw applevis mention that another blind organization gave an awore or praise to apple. Do not recall which but there you have it.

I Condemn And Deplore NFB Resolution 2016-04!

I condemn and deplore NFB Resolution 2016-04, maintaining that Apple doesn't properly test its iOS releases; and doesn't give blind people proper input in to Beta Testing suggestions. Accessibility is integrated in to all Apple products and has been for many years! Apple responds to accessibility far faster than Microsoft! And I daresay there are many more VoiceOver users than Android Talkback users among the blind community! This wouldn't be the case if we didn't find our iDevices mostly accessible. Of course there are bugs, but no more than in its software for sighted people. I don't hear too much about Apple not responding to accessibility in the podcasts; and Jonathan Mosen was impressed with all that Apple has done in accessibility in his iOS9 Without The Eye!
Further, just take a look at the BoiceOver settings and see the plethora of accessibility settings for the blind, to say nothing about hearing, touch accommodation and learning! And all the choices in the voices we have now! The bugs which there are, are being worked on, release by release! That's more than can be said for third-party apps! And does anyone in the NFB know that there is an updates tab in Apple's App Store that when pressed, takes to all the apps, that have been updated, most of the apps being non-Apple apps? And when you read the What's New in each one, you see the perverbial phrase "various problems and bug fixes"! And many of these apps are for sighted persons! What does the NFB want? Should Apple hold off making releases till the come up with that accessibility perfect software in which no accessibility or even any bugs can be found? I advise the NFB not to hold its collective breath! New releases ironing out bugs is part of software evolution both for software for the sighted and software for the blind! What do they think? That the blind are being singled out?
And to think I was a member once! Where was my head?

The NFB may have done a lot of good things, like KNFB Reader, and NFB Newsline, (which I daresay, need their own updates to correct bug fixes); but this time they have gone too far!

Here in the U.S., we have had many automobile and food recalls; but I'm sure most of them didn't happen to blind or low-vision persons who were driving or inviving the products, respectively!
The blind doesn't have a corner on too many bugs in apps not being addressed; and for all the bugs, both for blind and sighted in its software, does a very good job addressing these bugs and there software is accessible!

Joel Jeffries

Good overall

It's good but I agree with others -- we're at risk of being a bit "spoiled." As a high schooler of the early 90s blind people could have only dreamed of the kind of accessibility Apple gives us today. Despite the flaws and quirks of VO, there's no other product, be it phone, computer or tablet, that is this accessible right out of the box, and there's no other tech company this dedicated to equal access to their products. The Nfb Is a great organization and have done great things, but they sometimes approach things in a militant, heavy handed way, or they only look at how it affects a blind person without considering the full scope of the issue. For example, the article mentions an earlier NFB proposal wanting Apple to make sure every app in the app store is accessible, which is ridiculous. How is a heavily graphical racing game or a image creation / paint program to be accessible? Now, social media, productivity, dating, audio recording apps -- yes, agreed -- there's no reason these apps shouldn't be accessible so applying healthy pressure on developers of such apps makes sense. But expecting game developers for example to make purely visual games somehow accessible is not reasonable. There are plenty of blind-accessible games on the app store already.

Instead, I think Apple should do what the Windows Store does and indicate on every app in the store whether it is accessible or not. Then we could easily filter out such apps and also know which developers to approach about making their apps accessible. Anyhow, I digress.

Overall this proposal seems reasonable as long as it is presented with respect and gratitude for the inclusive company Apple is.

Shakedown

NFB has no shame. As long as companies give money to them, those companies will be praised. Apple doesn't pay, so these resolutions come up repeatedly. It's nothing but a shakedown.

Seriously, pull your head in, NFB

Why not pass the same resolution for Google Android or Microsoft Windows? Apple has gone above and beyond in providing access, not only for the blind, but for those with hearing, learning and mobility impairments as well . What have the other operating system owners done, not a lot really. Microsoft announced six months after they released Windows 10 that they wanted to make it the most accessible operating system in the world, yet it is left to third parties to do this.
Sure there's a few problems each time there is an update with Apple, but hey at least they fix it in the next update. Does Google? does Microsoft? No, so why bully Apple so much?

NFB

You guys know that the NFB hates Apple, right? Remember the article in 2009 where someone from the NFB basically stated that the Macintosh with VoiceOver was a pile of shit just because it wasn't like Jaws? I can't speak for other blindness organizations, but I have no respect for the National Federation for the Blind. Why aren't they slamming Microsoft for their continued failure to deliver adequate accessibility features in Windows and their other platforms? The improvements coming to Narrator in Windows 10 update should have been included with the initial version of 10 along with other features. No wonder Apple ignores the NFB. If it is indeed true that the nFB praises companies that give them money, that is very sad. I will not support this policy. Simply ignore this and learn that the NFB will never do anything useful for the blind.

lunacy!

I had planned to write this long thing about how the NFB are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats, but I think everyone has pretty much already said that. All I'm going to say is that the NFB should be ashamed of themselves by drafting this resolution. Obviously, they have absolutely no clue how Apple works, and that what they want, once again is simply not possible. It's my opinion that if some of them still have trouble answering a call or adding someone to their contacts, then they need more training using iOS. We can not expect Apple to dumb things down just cause someone can't do something as simple as answer a call. This resolution is a gigantic slap in the face to Apple INC. I am so glad I am not part of that shameful organization. The NFB really needs to wake up and smell the coffee big-time.

I Remember That One...

I remember that article from 2009, and if memory serves they immediately came out with an article after that where they basically covered their backsides and were like, "Oh, we're so sorry we published that article condemning the Macintosh." The NFB is and has always been so one-sided that it's a joke. Granted I haven't used Apple products for as long and extensively as perhaps a lot of you. However, I am eternally grateful for what the company has done with the Macintosh regarding accessibility. Even the AppleIIE was quite good back in the day if you ask me, and that didn't even have a full-fledged screen reader. So come on NFB, and just reunite with your rivals the ACB. Perhaps that's a rant for later though. Anyway, I cannot in good conscience support this resolution. Or the one from a couple years ago requiring every single thing that is submitted to the App store to be VoiceOver-accessible, or however they put it. I think I supported them before, but that was a big mistake and I admit it. I must've been asleep at the wheel at the time.

Here we go again

Not this again, I'm getting tired of this, no no no, please no.

my thoughts

I'll make this quick.
The NFB doesn't want Microsoft tomake windows accessible, so that other companies can force the blind community to pay hundreds if not thousands for a product. The NFB doesn't want google to do it for the same reason. The NFB does not like apple, because didn't have to get sued by them first before they did there job. Apple was a step ahead, and the NFB can't stand it.

Double standards for the lose

App Developer

OK, here's the thing as I see it. I work in software QA, and have done for ten years. There are accessibility issues I've seen in first- and third-party iOS apps, and performance issues that have been in VoiceOver since OS X 10.5 that have only started to be fixed now, that would leave me full of shame if I'd let them slip into a production release. There is, for instance, an issue with the Calendar app on macOS that requires you not to use advanced verbosity in VoiceOver in order to read calendar appointments with the grid view. It would seem like someone would have caught this. Issues also abound with DirectTouch typing in search fields on iOS that have yet to be addressed. To put that into perspective for those playing along at home, you effectively have the system keyboard glitching out in search text fields after you've run around 3 searches, and the only remedy is to switch to "touch typing", which is inherently slower as you have to release one key before you move to the next, or cycle VoiceOver. If the average person had to, say, cycle their device before they could properly enter text again, this would be a showstopper bug that would not only hold back production, but probably generate one hell of a postmortem to figure out who fell asleep at the switch and allowed that bug to ship. So yes, clearly, there are some inadequacies in, if not the testing of the product, the prioritization of bug fixes that smacks, with the admittedly limited visibility I have into the process, of leaning more towards "this only affects a few blind people", rather than "this breaks access to a core OS component". In reading some of the comments, it sounds as though there is an unspoken belief that, as blind people, we should expect inherently more inconveniences, because we live in a sighted world, blah blah, ad infinitum, when, in fact, the technology created here was created by humans who have the ability to reprioritize the order of bug triage such that more severity is given to bugs affecting core OS components. In some cases, and maybe I'm just hitting all the corner cases, I feel like Apple isn't doing this.
Now, before I'm accused of hating unilaterally on Apple, the question I do have regarding this resolution is why we're not seeing any resolutions aimed at Microsoft, Google or Amazon to improve accessibility on their devices. Amazon finally got around to putting a prototype screen reader on their Fire TV, Android is … well, I have a Galaxy S7 Edge for testing, and I can tell the Samsung applications from the Google applications because they feel more like iOS, and let's not talk about Microsoft's laughable attempt to bolt on "accessibility" to Windows Phone 8 in order to meet a legislative deadline. Actually, no, let's talk about it. It was a third party app, which had to be acquired by having a sighted person log into your Microsoft account, download the app for you, configure your phone for you, set up the app, and then, after having to endure all that sighted help, you got a second rate "shell" that gave you fourth rate access to what could be considered a sixth rate operating system, because Microsoft chose an architecture that disallowed third party development beyond their application jail and neglected to add accessibility from square one. I was working for Microsoft at the time (although not that department, and I left right around the Windows Phone 7 release (coincidence, really)), and a fix was "in the pipeline". Well, clearly this was a pipeline shared with what must have been the shower drain of a large number of really hairy fellas, because things kept getting clogged. Windows Phone 8.1 came with Narrator, such as it was, but some genius product manager, whose name and address I would really like to get if I'm ever granted diplomatic immunity, decided to disable the shortcut to enable Narrator by default, thus forcing you to continue to endure more sighted help than you should technologically have to. Finally, in Windows Phone 10, 7 years after you could do this with your iPhone, you can walk up to a phone and enable its screen reader, making them dead last as far as companies allowing independent out of box access to their mobile products (and we're still not completely there with Windows 10, gang).
For the record, I use a Mac at work, and my wife and I own one of every Apple device category currently out there (except for the Apple TV. We only have one of those.), although I find myself having to fall back to a Windows virtual machine for a few things (scanning books while I'm reading them, for instance, or filling out PDF forms), and Apple is, certainly in the mobile device arena, the uncontested accessibility leader. I think, though, that the danger of having the bar set so low is that there is plenty of room for failure or stagnation on Apple's part that would still allow them to maintain their lead, and this is what should be avoided. One should, I think, also avoid the mindset that I've seen expressed here, that essentially being "we had it so bad twenty years ago, we shouldn't complain now". It's akin to, if I may, hearing a woman point out that, well, they couldn't vote back in the day, so they shouldn't complain about their wage gap. What should also be avoided is this single-minded pursuit by the NFB of Apple when there is also—note that I said "also", here—so much low hanging fruit with these other companies. It does rather smack of the other guys throwing money at a problem, enough money that the NFB will be so grateful for the dollars that they'll overlook the obvious product accessibility flaws.

NFB

I'm relieved not to be a member of the NFB right now. This is getting old.

Public beta program.

Well, all they have to do is encourage voiceover users to sign up for the public beta program. In an ideal world Apple would track who is a voiceover user that is apart of that program and direct their feedback to the appropriate developers. Problem solved. On a side note, every time a major version iOS or macOS is released, there are inevitably some bugs. This causes the entire blindness community to act like the sky is falling. Eventually these bugs are fixed and the sky resumes it's normal position. So, let's all learn this lesson now before I OS X is released in the fall. It's going to be released, there are going to be some bugs that were known but not resolved or unknown and unresolved. Eventually the developers will fix those bugs. Now some bugs will persist for multiple versions, and yes that is very annoying. Apple is only a company made up by humans and humans by their very nature art and perfect. So all that we can do is a community is continue to utilize the tools that are available to us for reporting bugs and the like.

why are you people griping

clearly folks, they did not condemn the company, i think this needs to happen. apple does need to make voiceover a part of beta testing, so what's wrong with that. some of you seriously need to get over this apple can do no wrong attitude, and think clearly, and stop griping when we who have honest things to tell apple about.

I think your missing it

I am in no way saying that Apple can do no wrong, but what about google? What about amazon? What about Microsoft? Oh let me throw a couple more institutions out there, The University of Tennessee? What about the company that makes totally inaccessible literacy software called text Help? While apple does need to include VoiceOVer in it's in house testing, the NFB needs to get it's priorities straight. The NFB in my state is worse than the worst joke, an absolute abomination to the blind community.

Well, this is somewhat better

Compared to the resolution wanting accessibility to be a requirement for any and all apps to be accepted in the App Store, I think this resolution is a step in the right direction for NFB. At least this resolution is more reasonable, so far as that goes.

I would be more understanding if this resolution came after the mess that was iOS 8, with dozens of accessibility bugs, including several major ones, which required multiple iOS updates to address. I forget how many times my iPad crashed to the Apple logo, how many times I couldn't use my Bluetooth keyboard, and how many times I had to switch to my Mac to do something I should have been able to do easily on my iPad. As I recall, this led Apple to put someone new in charge of their accessibility department, and thankfully the state of accessibility has been much better since then. The update to iOS 9, although not perfect by any means, was a much nicer transition than iOS 8 was.

Seriously, the examples provided in the resolution for issues that should have been caught in testing are poor ones in my opinion. I guess they don't care about the Mac, because there are plenty of examples of VoiceOver bugs there, including ones that have been around for years, that I'm frustrated with to this day. It really bugged me when I sent a bug report to Apple Accessibility and was told that the bug I reported could not be reproduced, even though everyone I knew of could reproduce it easily with the steps I provided Apple.

Probably the biggest problem I have with the resolution is that it doesn't accurately reflect the problem. With iOS, the major issue is that Apple is obligated, by their own design, to release new versions of iOS in September, whether they're ready or not. This is why iOS 8 was such a debacle - because they tried to do too much with the update and had to ship it before it was really done. They didn't do as much with iOS 9, so the September release was more stable, but this year's iOS 10 is pretty massive, perhaps as big as iOS 8 was, so I'm concerned it won't be stable upon release because of the hard deadline.

The problem with Mac OS is that it doesn't get near the attention iOS gets, because there aren't nearly as many users of the Mac. This doesn't just affect Mac accessibility, but it also affects the quality of the operating system as a whole. A number of professionals who used to do their work on the Mac have switched to Windows or Linux because Apple hasn't kept up. Have you noticed how often their Mac OS updates focus on enhancing the experience for iOS users? That's clearly their priority, not the Mac itself.

In both cases, what NFB is proposing doesn't solve anything. The solution for iOS is to get away from the hard deadline of September for major updates, and instead ship new versions when they are fully ready, even if it takes weeks or months to get the major bugs worked out. For the Mac, the lack of users is the platform's downfall, so either Apple needs to give it more attention in spite of the smaller user base, or the user base needs to grow significantly in order to make Apple pay more attention.

Lack of attention to macOS

App Developer

I've been wondering for a while if personal computing will be moving almost entirely away from the Mac over time. You see folks with their iPads doing video editing and other computer intensive tasks previously reserved for desktop computing, and with Swift Playgrounds, I'm wondering if we're beginning to see the development process migrating over to, or at least buying a summer home in, the iOS landscape.

Analysing the resolution and my thoughts

Below is the text of the resolution in its entirety with my comments below each paragraph.

WHEREAS, Apple, Inc. has made VoiceOver, a free and powerful screen-access program, an integral part of many of its products, including the Apple Macintosh, iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV, and iPad; and

Apple has indeed made VoiceOver a core part of the accessibility framework of nearly all of its products, yet the NFB has on many occasions badgered Apple as to why VoiceOver is not better than it is. The NFB has made attempts to discuss the accessibility shortcomings of other companies, yet they have consistently badgered Apple, and to a lesser degree Amazon. It is also worth noting that Apple refuses to attend or sponsor the conventions of the National Federation of the Blind, while they presented a session at the convention of the American Council of the Blind in 2015.

WHEREAS, when a significant software update for one of these products is released, there are often accessibility bugs that impact the usability of the product by blind users, causing them to lose their productivity or their ability to perform certain job duties when the use of Apple devices is required; and

This is inherently the nature of software, and usability and accessibility bugs also may negatively impact the communities of people with other disabilities and also the mainstream community. Thorough testing and performance improvements mean that these bugs are likely to soon disappear.

WHEREAS, recent updates have included a large number of serious, moderate, and minor bugs that have made it difficult or impossible for blind people to perform various tasks such as answering calls, browsing the internet, entering text into forms, or adding individuals to the Contacts Favorites list; and

This is indeed the case, and such bugs do inevitably arise from using a mainstream operating system. People who use VoiceOver (I am quoting here from a catch-phrase often used by the NFB) "want first-class citizenship". This being said, when bugs also affect the sighted community, VoiceOver users should not expect to have a bug-fre operating system because that would lead to us being second-class citizens as we would not have to contend with the bugs that also affect sighted people. If blind people find it difficult to perform their job duties, they can find another operating system where such bugs do not exist so that they may perform their djob duties.

WHEREAS, for example, after iOS 9.0 was released, some iPhones running VoiceOver occasionally became unresponsive when getting a phone call, and there was no way to choose any option on screen; and

Yes, but this only affected some iPhones, and in some cases could not be tested for. No-one was being compelled to upgrade to iOS 9.0 on the day of its release--in fact, even people in the mainstream community were being advised by some websites and podcasts to abstain from upgrading until a few minor updates had been released which fixed some of these bugs. Serious, moderate and minor bugs also affect the communities of other people with disabilities and the mainstream community.

WHEREAS, although this issue was fixed in a new release of iOS, it would not have occurred if Apple had conducted more thorough testing with VoiceOver; and

This is possible, but why should Apple focus more effort on VoiceOver when there are far more people using certain other accessibility features. Even if this accessibility bug had been known about, Apple may have deliberately chosen to prioritise it lower than some other bugs.

WHEREAS, another example of inadequate testing by Apple involves VoiceOver failing to render the contents of the screen when a user attempts to add a contact to the Favorites list in the phone app and has multiple contact groups from which to select; and

Being blind entails some minor inconveniences, one of which is this.

WHEREAS, because Apple products and its accessibility
tools are built by the same company, there is no need to share confidential information with partners that may affect the normal development of the software; and

Because VoiceOver is closed-source, it is actually much better as there is less fragmentation, and it is very easy for Apple and its users to see how seamlessly it works with iOS, and, when accessibility bugs arise, they are much easier to remedy because of this.

WHEREAS, we recognize the efforts made by Apple to inform developers about the accessibility features built into Apple products and encourage the company to keep working in that direction; however several accessibility issues still appear with new software releases even when they have been reported during beta testing; and

As previously stated, Apple has more people to focus on than just the people who use VoiceOver.

WHEREAS, it is vital that Apple give priority to addressing bugs that have an impact on accessibility before releasing software updates: Now, therefore,

In some cases, this is done. If accessibility bugs do come out in the final release of software, that is unfortunate, but we can see from Apple's track record on accessibility that they are committed to fixing the accessibility bugs that affect many users within a relatively reasonable timeframe.

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 2016, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon Apple to make nonvisual access a major priority in its new and updated software by improving its testing of new releases to ensure that nonvisual access is not limited or compromised; and

Expecting Apple to ensure that there are no bugs for VoiceOver users within its operating systems is extremely discriminatory to people who use Apple software who are not VoiceOver users. We can help Apple by becoming beta-testers and writing reports of bugs that we may encounter.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Apple to work actively to incorporate feedback from testers who use VoiceOver during the beta testing phase of software development to ensure that accessibility for blind individuals is properly and fully addressed.

Apple does incorporate the feedback from beta-testers and from Apple's accessibility team. However, no operating system is ever completely bug-free.

VoiceOver bugs

I would like to add my thoughts here. Firstly I am greatful for the efforts Apple has made in accessibility overall. That is why I have always stuck to the iPhone ever since I got my iPhone 5, back in 2012. I find it has much more functionality than the Nokia one I had prior to it. However, Apple does need to improve the way it responds to VoiceOver bugs when updating the software, right across the platform from the Mac to iOS. I live in Australia so I am not familiar with the national federation of the blind from the US in comparison to blind citizens Australia. I do agree, however, that it is unfair to single out Apple for this, why not demand the same of Google or Microsoft for accessibility related issues as others have stated here? I should make it clear that I do not expect totally bug free software. However, when it comes to VoiceOver in particular Apple should make sure that the major bugs are addressed at the very least at initial launch of an update and fix the minor ones in the smaller incremental updates that follow the major versions. Sighted people do not have to deal with lack of access to contacts or not being able to swipe the screen when someone answers the phone as was the case for some in the past. Basically, if an issue was affecting sighted people too, I could understand Apple's approach, they would be trying to fix the bugs for everyone. I assume it would be difficult explaining to a sighted person why one couldn't accomplish something when they could do it perfectly. I realise no company is perfect, but as Apple has been great at accomplishing accessibility, it stands to reason to keep improving VoiceOver's performance. Beta testers from the public need to be heard more often as they are the ones utilising these devices day-in and day-out. It is a great initiative of Apple to create a public beta testing program as it expands the numbers of potential beta testers for such feedback in the future. Once again, I am personally greatful for the accessibility Apple has put into its products, not just voiceOver but other things such as hearing aid compatibility. I must admit I was sceptical at first of using a touch screen even when my friends were telling me how easy it was to utilise, but I finally realised once I received my first iPhone, how easy it was to use, in fact, texting was faster as I no longer had to triple press some buttons to write a single character. The neat thing about iOS devices is that you can use a keyboard or braille display, you are not limited to the touch screen. I certainly utilise my Apex for texting and composing emails on the phone, utilising the braille display functionality.

why google and Microsoft aren't contacted

Hi. It's my understanding that both Google and Microsoft are sponsoring the NFB convention in some form or another. So this means that Appl isn't going to spit in the face of the sponsors by calling them out. As someone said earlier, it's basicly a shakedown. If Apple started sponsoring, or otherwise giving money to the NFB, I just bet you all these complaints about the lack of accessibility as they call it would vanish pretty quickly. Pay the NFB and they stay quiet.

money talks?

Right? I guess the old saying "money talks" applies here. Kinda sad if you ask me.

money talks indeed

You know, a group like this should at least have some morals, but I guess it's Justas corrupt as any other mainstream group.

Slow down, everybody

A few important points. 1. I have seen very little on this thread about Apple's focus on accessibility in the development process, the topic of the proposed resolution. Their claim is that Apple is not great when it comes to prioritizing non-visual access when they are developing new software. People on this thread have said "well, what about Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc?" Does anyone here have any experience that allows them to compare Apple versus those other companies when it comes to prioritizing accessibility in their development process? If not, you have very little standing to respond to the NFB here. 2. The NFB fights with Amazon constantly, so those of you who have mentioned Amazon as another company on whom the NFB should focus their efforts are not paying much attention to what the NFB does. 3. The Microsoft and Google comparison might be valid. I don't know really. For those of you who think Microsoft is doing nothing for non-visual accessibility, see my fourth point below. They, unlike Apple, have layed out a clear, long-term plan for how they will improve their accessibility efforts, and it will, if completed, lead to some serious improvements in the lives of blind people, including on iOS. Additionally, the assertion that Microsoft and Google are paying off the NFB to be silent should probably be backed up with some facts. That's a little intense of an accusation to just throw out. 4. Someone here complained that access to Microsoft products is expensive because it is through third parties. That is true, but irrelevant because you can buy a Microsoft computer that is solid and long-lasting for a fraction of the cost of an Apple computer, and NVDA access, which is free, is pretty good. The cost of a JAWS SMA still won't get you to the price of an Apple computer, or even an iPad Pro, and JAWS is a far more powerful screen reader than VO. If you haven't ever used JAWS, please do not respond to this comment. 5. Those who are using this as an opportunity to bash the NFB generally as a terrible organization that does nothing significant for the blind should really read up on your history. We would be nowhere near where we are without them. 6. Apple has said it wants to be the gold standard for accessibility. The NFB is holding them to that standard. The NFB just understands this standard to be the maximum access possible to software from the moment it comes out; as close to the access sighted people get as possible. People here seem to think the gold standard is just being really good. That difference is fine; mostly a matter of opinion about what our goals as blind people should be and what our tactics for getting there should be. But those disagreements are not worth the rants about how the NFB is useless, money-grabbing, out-of-touch, etc. A little maturity would be greatly appreciated.

Re: Slow down, everybody!

App Developer

With regard to some of your above comments:

  1. As pertains the Microsoft accessibility development process, and certainly on mobile devices, as I'd posted in a prior entry, I have had some experience on how that development process went, and it was a scramble to get things working in a timely manner.
  2. As per your comment regarding Amazon and/or Microsoft "paying off" the NFB to be silent, though I can't speak for anyone else here, I sort of wonder if it's more that the NFB is indebted to those companies for sponsoring the convention (which Apple did not), and coming forth to mention the accessibility shortcomings of your sponsors might withdraw that sponsorship in the future. I don't so much think the NFB is shaking down these companies for money, as, if I may be frank, I don't think any of the major players having a resolution filed against them at a convention of one organization of blind people would be enough to threaten their well-being (whether any litigation if they failed to meet some standard or guideline would damage them is a different matter, but, and do please correct me if I'm wrong, these resolutions on their own plus a five spot might get me a venti Cappuccino). I think, if it's a money issue, it's that the NFB doesn't want to lose sponsors.
  3. Feature for feature, JAWS definitely wins the battle over VoiceOver (I can't find a Text Analyzer analog in VoiceOver, for instance). However, giving Microsoft credit for Freedom Scientific's development efforts, as seems to have just been done here, is a fallacy. Windows 10 was released with some major gaps in accessibility. Edge was mostly sort of usable with Narrator if you tried hard. Again, for those of you playing at home, Microsoft REGRESSED accessibility, and, while I don't necessarily argue that they are making strides to fix this in Windows 10 v.next, how many of those changes are fixing what's broken that had worked previously? This would be akin to giving your child credit for cleaning up the mess they made in your office that they shouldn't have been in in the first place. And as for Microsoft having a clear plan for improving accessibility in the future, providing we're talking about their own tools and not third-party technology, they have significantly farther to go along that road than does Apple. There are reasons for this, some of them involving an outcry from third party access technology vendors at the idea of Microsoft bundling a screen reader with their OS, but the fact remains that it's easier to plan accessibility improvements when you've got a lot of ground to cover.
  4. Did I just see you equate maturity with not criticizing the NFB? I feel like I may have.

    But those disagreements are not worth the rants about how the NFB is useless, money-grabbing, out-of-touch, etc. A little maturity would be greatly appreciated.

    If one had the opinion that the NFB were, as should ultimately be the case with any advocacy organization for a monitory group, on a path to eventual irrelevance, how would you suggest that they express that opinion? What I've seen is people drawing a correlation between sponsorship at the convention and a lack of resolution passed against companies that are, let's face it, more flawed than Apple in a lot of the accessibility arena, and I challenge anyone to show me they're not, using only the native tools of each company's operating system.

  5. In response to your comment:

    5. Those who are using this as an opportunity to bash the NFB generally as a terrible organization that does nothing significant for the blind should really read up on your history. We would be nowhere near where we are without them.

    As I said previously, if an advocacy organization eventually advocates itself into irrelevance, is this a bad thing? We have light years to go before they reach their stated goal of us being universally viewed as equal to our sighted peers, as evidenced even in my own small sphere by the fact that I encounter ten to twelve people almost daily who feel I don't have the sense not to walk into New York City traffic, and I'm occasionally approached by the security guards in my office building and spoken to in significantly smaller words than I've seen them use to the sighted person whose questions they've previously answered. I'm sure many people reading this have had more scathing examples of discrimination, and I remember a few such in ancient times before the 32-bit microprocessor. Using the argument that a movement has no present relevance because of what they've done in the past, though, would be akin to saying that the anti-slavery movement has applications in the present day. That movement made monumental changes that can't be paralleled, and it doesn't particularly exist now. In order for an organization to remain needed, it needs to be making tangible changes now, not just be responsible for our exponential progress back in ancient times before the color television.

counter points

You made a point that said that that Microsoft has made a long term plan for accessibility. . Microsoft never put a plan forward until apple started to. Microsoft does not have to put forth the same plan as apple because Microsoft has said "We leave full screen reader access to third parties." You also said that apple has serious problems to fix in apple OS. That may be true, but I have used android and windows phone, and they have serious, and I m mean serious problems.
If the NFB is so we want equal access, they need to go after all three of them.

ChromeVox Next vs. Mac VoiceOver

I've been using a Google Pixel 2 with ChromeVox Next as my primary computer.
This resulted from the major regressions in macOS El Capitan, which haven't been resolved in Sierra.
Lots of computing are cloud-based and require interacting with web-apps with high-degree of productivity and efficiency if one wishes to be competitive to sighted peers.
With the natural Pixel 2's touch screen interaction to relate to spatial layout and great responsiveness with ChromeVOx Next M53, I am far more effective at work without legacy virtual buffers.

Apple is the only concern on this thread

There should be no mention of Microsoft or any other company that Apple on this thread. My concerns about previous resolutions are another matter. As for Apple addressing bugs for users of Voice-Over, does Apple have enough beta testers that use the built-in screen reader? I would think that the more beta testers who rely on Voice-Over, the better. If Apple gets very little feedback, they have very little to work from. I only have one iDevice, and rely on it too heavily to risk inadequate results from using it as a test device.

Re Slow down, everybody

I agree with you, there is nothing wrong with NFB passing this resolution. I am here at the convention, and I will be voting yes. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens tomorrow.

my concern is

My concern is that Apple will view the NFB's resolution as a demand instead of a suggestion, and will possibly take people with disabilities less seriously than they have previously. Someone else here did make a good point that Apple may not have a lot of blind beta testers, I have no idea how many they have for obvious reasons. This is a dangerous resolution.

I use Windows Mac, and IOS. just upgraded to Windows 10.

The two screen readers that I have access to will not work properly with my computer after the upgrade. This is Windows. I don't have that problem with the MAC. Yes I know that there are problems, but in the end for me they are not deal breakers. I can work with them. The problems I am having with the windows computer have turned it in to a desk ordennmant for me. Thank goodness that my wife can see the blasted thing.

seriously?

There have been many opinions expressed in this topic, most against a few for, but what I agree with most is the comment made by Piotr Machacz

I don't really have anything different to say on the matter besides what others have already said, I.E if you want bugs to not exist in the final version go ahead and beta test,submit coherent and detailed bug reports.Before you go and submit that 30000 word bug report though, make sure that the thing you are reporting is actually a bug and not something caused by your ignorance or mistake.
and no, if you want results, 1 or 2 people reporting bugs won't do either, so instead of writing up pointless resolutions,and voting on such I would suggest that the NFB members and the people who came up with this brilliant idea actually strap down for the betas when they come out,find bugs and report them in a constructive manner.

You want equal access and priority as your sighted peers? sure that might come as long as you are willing to accept and deal with them as others do. How are the bugs that aren't VO related caught and resolved? its hundreds and hundreds of people reporting the same thing with actual details and not just a few people here and there.

Call me what you would, but I am not actually a apple fanboy or anything of the sort, in fact I much prefer windows but IMO, to the people who say we agree with what NFB has been and is doing all I have to say is this. Sit down, take a windows machine with narrator,a windows phone,android and so on and take a mac, ios device,anything made by apple really, and perform the usual tasks on each of the devices. I'm willing to bet hands down that the apple devices would beat the others by a long long mile. out of any of those other company devices that might even come close would be talkback, perhaps. After that's done, think on it,whether you should be hounding a company that has already done so much and continues to! do much much more than the others out there.
Does this mean that apple doesn't have problems? sure it does, but fix those problems by doing something towards a solution that might lead to the fixes that is the bug reports. and keep in mind while doing so,every operating system has bugs,anything new that comes out will have bugs, its a fact and walk along with that on your mind during the process.

resolutions like these and others when considered with the fact that other companys that do far worse don't even receive a word from the NFB, do nothing in the long-run but lead to disgust and in the end to being ignored.

Credibility

If NFB refuses to criticize their sponsors and keep going after the leader in mainstream accessibility, they have no credibility. Their members feel like they are doing something by creating these shameful resolutions, all they do is show their ignorance. If you want to make a difference become a beta tester. The NFB has a conflict of interest by not going after sponsors. It makes them look corrupt. There are many of us that believe they are corrupt. If the NFB members want to change this perception, maybe they should create a resolution against the NFB and their practices.

sympathetic to this resolution

Hi all I am actually sympathetic to this resolution,
while its true that ios accessibility is generally good, mac seemingly not so good, I think apple has totally dropped the ball when it comes to windows iTunes accessibility and did so many years ago if it even had possession of it to begin with.
for example I just installed the latest iTunes after apple told me that managing apps on the iPhone should again be screen reader accessible, the issue isn't at all fixed, the result of this is that app names are not announced when browsing apps on the iPhone, instead just the size of the app along with the words install or remove, before they were identified as checkboxes.
the affect of this is say an app becomes inaccessible I can't reinstall an older version through windows iTunes without sighted help.
when I first raised the issue with apple they said it was down to screen reader makers to address the issue, so I wrote back and explained why I saw this as completely unacceptable because basically its down to apple releasing an iTunes version which breaks accessibility in this area, and OK sure jaws or NVDA could probably come up with a work around but why should they given that it was apple who broke this in the first place, if they fix the issue on the screen reader end its allowing apple to not follow best accessibility practices.
also since installing iTunes 12.41 I have noticed that I can't find out easily what apps are available to update, when you select updates it says apps table view but you can't navigate this with the arrow keys or even find out how many apps updates are available for, and I like to keep my apps up to ate on the pc as well as ios.
finally I noticed an unlabeled button in iTunes preferences, you do have to wonder how some of these issues got past the testing process, so I wouldn't be sorry if this resolution got past though I doubt it will do any good, and I have reported all these issues to apple and told them about the regressions I have found.
also remember that buggy iTunes we had last year where loads of button labels were missing and it took months for a fix to be issued, lets imagine Microsoft issued a version of windows with no start button you can be damb sure a fix would come out very quickly for that.
OK I am not saying apple should immediately rush to release versions of iTunes or ios just for accessibility fixes, but where serious issues are identified they could accelerate testing of a new version.
the issue with managing apps on the iPhone through windows iTunes has now been present for a good 6 months if not longer. and yes I do agree about the double standards not holding Microsoft or google to account, windows 10 access in the start menu is pretty dreadful for example, and why should blind users have to pay for buggy third party software just to create accessible windows install disks, the developer of the program which creates them is far from reliable for reasons which are beyond the scope of this article.

Definitely understood re iTunes in Windows

I'm right there with you when it comes to iTunes in Windows 7 or even Windows 10. I wrote a very detailed message to the Apple accessibility email address, outlining the specific steps I took to do a few things, and saying what I expected to happen. In other words, I followed their exact rules for following up with a bug report, and I received the usual canned response that it would be forwarded to the proper people. I'm glad they responded, but it'd sure be nice if the actual people working with iTunes in Windows were to write back to me, and follow up with the issue so it can be resolved. The way they have it set up now, you have to wait for the next update, and hope against hope that the accessibility issues are fixed. That is quite definitely something they need to work on. However I don't think an NFB resolution is the right way to go about it, and have you guys noticed that none of the other resolutions have been taken seriously by Apple? I'm just concerned that these resolutions will be taken as demands instead of suggestions. What they want just isn't practical unless they have more data to go on. I agree with what they're saying in some areas, but not others. I just don't think this is the way to go about this, and could actually be dangerous.

the resolution passed

hi all, just thought i would drop a quick note to tell you guys thank god. the resolution passed, and I'm sorry folks but apple should be held accountable for the stuff they release, and fether more, this should have happened a long time ago.

Wow

This kind of junk from the NFB is one of the many reasons I will never again be an NFB member. They have never done anything about Google and the problems that come up everytime a new version of Android comes out nor have I seen anything from the NFB about Windows Phones. The NFB is all about Apple from what I can see. A bit off topic but something else to note is one of the NFB's sponsors is Pearson. Pearson makes webbased products such as My OM Lab, which is completely inaccessible to the blind the last time I had to use it.
Jordan

have you guys noticed?

The KNFB reader app is on sale for both iOS and Android. But guess what? Conveniently enough, the android version is on sale at the convention for $19.95, while the iOS version is also on sale but for considerably more. Google sponsors the NFB convention. You do the math, folks. I call Bravo Sierra.

Android A11y

Android accessibility has come up a couple of times in this thread, but I've not seen *any* concrete actionable feedback.
Has anyone tried current Android N, TalkBack 5, and Chrome 50?
Based on the hand-wavey jabs, it would be safe to assume that most have based their judgements on legacy Android accessibility; others based critique on hear-say.
FOr those who are using the latest iOS and ANdroid accessibility, I'm sure that you'd agree that there are areas wehre they're comporable and others where the other excells. Regardless, competition drives innovation, and provides for a more accessible user experience for all of us.

The NFB, while it has done

The NFB, while it has done some great things for blind people, seems to want special treatment. Apple has done all it can to make sure that everyone who uses their products, including the blind, have a good experience. Apple's employees are people, just like the rest of us. We need to be grateful to them for even implementing accessibility features into their products. They didn't have to do that for us. VoiceOver is going to have its bugs, just like all other technologies. The resolution that the NFB made here does show some arrogance.

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