iOS Accessibility Isn't Just About Apple

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has received much praise since accessibility became an integral element of iOS. Much has certainly been said and written on how this has been a life-changer for so many people, and that it has opened up a world of possibilities.

These are sentiments that it's hard to disagree with.

A few short years ago miniaturization was the trend for mobile phones, resulting in handsets so small that you could almost lose them in the fluff that gathers at the bottom of your pockets. At that time I saw mobile communications as a technology that I would soon be excluded from. The best that I hoped for was a handset that I could at least still use to make phone calls. I would never have predicted that a mobile phone would become so much of a gateway to the world around me.

Now, I can walk into one of a number of local stores, pass them my credit card, and walk out a few minutes later with something that will tell me where I am; where I need to go; and, with the aid of apps such as VizWiz, even tell me what I am looking at.

However, this is only part of the story. Yes, an iOS device gives me access to tools that help me as a blind person, but it also gives me equality of access to things that the sighted world takes for granted: email, text messaging, listening to music, checking news, finding out the weather forecast ... and the list goes on, and on. It's a list that every reader of this post could add a score of things to, each of which is only ever a double-tap away.

At this point of writing I look back and see just how much of an Apple Evangelist or Fanboy I am sounding, and am aware that I am opening myself up to the ridicule and abuse that this can bring your way. However, it's hard to sound any other way when talking about Apple, iOS and accessibility.

But, heaping more praise upon Apple wasn't the intention of this post. My ramblings were actually prompted by an email exchange that I had earlier today with an app developer. This exchange was another reminder that iOS accessibility isn't just about Apple, it's also about the people who put the time and effort into reporting issues to Apple and app developers, and its about the developers who respond so positively to requests for improved accessibility. Each and every one of you should feel a little bit of pride when you hear a comment about how accessible an iDevice is, because you have all contributed.

I won't mention the specific app that prompted this post, because if you download it from the App Store right now you will find that it is unusable with VoiceOver. However, having just tested a beta version of the next update, I know that this is about to change. I'll certainly be back to mention the app once the update hits the App Store, because at that point it is likely to become my default RSS reader.