NFB Adopts Resolution Urging Apple to Require All iOS Apps to Be Accessible

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Update, 7/5/2014, 4:02 PM CDT: Members of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) have just passed Resolution 2014-12 at their annual national convention. The resolution calls upon Apple to work with the NFB to develop standards and policies to ensure the accessibility of all iOS apps. The full text of the resolution, as well as our original blog post, is below.

Earlier this week, a resolution was proposed at the National Federation of the Blind (a United States organization of and led by blind people) annual convention that would urge Apple to adopt and enforce requirements to ensure that all iOS apps be fully accessible to VoiceOver users.

The proposed resolution, Resolution 2014-12, calls upon Apple to "work with the National Federation of the Blind to create and enforce policies, standards, and procedures to ensure the accessibility of all apps, including core apps distributed by Apple in the base iOS distribution, and to ensure that accessibility is not lost when an app is updated."

The full text of the proposed resolution, which will be voted on this weekend, is below:

"Resolution 2014-12 Regarding Policies, Standards, and Procedures to Ensure and Maintain Accessibility of Apple Inc. Apps

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

WHEREAS, although VoiceOver has the ability to enable nonvisual access to hundreds of thousands of applications that are available today through these platforms, such access cannot be achieved unless the applications are written to provide VoiceOver with the information it needs to tell the blind user what he or she needs to know; and

WHEREAS, through presentations at developer conferences, specific guidance issued in programming guides, and application programming interfaces that are simple to implement, Apple Inc. has made it easy for application developers to incorporate accessibility features for VoiceOver users into their programs; and

WHEREAS, despite Apple Inc.'s efforts to encourage accessibility, too many applications are still not accessible to VoiceOver users because buttons are not properly labeled, images of text cannot be interpreted, and other display elements cannot even be detected by VoiceOver; and

WHEREAS, although Apple Inc. has given VoiceOver users the tools to assign labels to unlabeled elements on their own, a growing number of applications that have been released cannot be made accessible using these tools; and

WHEREAS, even if the current version of an application is accessible to a blind VoiceOver user, Apple Inc. has no policy, procedure, or mechanism in place to ensure that this accessibility will be maintained when a subsequent version is released; and

WHEREAS, not only are inaccessible applications inconvenient for the blind VoiceOver user, but they can also prevent a blind person from independently performing the duties of his/her job; and

WHEREAS, Apple Inc. is not reluctant to place requirements and prohibitions on application developers, but has not seen fit to require that applications be accessible to VoiceOver users; and

WHEREAS, making products accessible to users of VoiceOver should be as important as any other requirement imposed on application developers: Now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fifth day of July, 2014, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon Apple Inc. to work with the National Federation of the Blind to create and enforce policies, standards, and procedures to ensure the accessibility of all apps, including core apps distributed by Apple in the base iOS distribution, and to ensure that accessibility is not lost when an app is updated."

A very similar resolution was adopted by the NFB convention in 2011, Resolution 2011-03.

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



Submitted by Jordan Gallacher on Sunday, January 10, 2016

In reply to by brandon armstrong

Agree totally. They need to get out of the fog about Apple and deal with the problems with Google and Microsoft. Also, I find it comical that they will sometimes send out Surveys using Google Docs and not giving a damn about the fact that not every screen reader works with Google Docs. I know the one I am using right now will not work with it.

Submitted by riyu12345 (not verified) on Sunday, January 10, 2016

This has achieved nothing.

Apps are still as they were, which in my opinion is how it should be. It should be our job to write to the developers of the apps we want to be made accessible.

I understand that for those in countries where this is not possible this is bad news but unfortunately there's nothing I can do about that.

Submitted by molly on Saturday, March 19, 2016

I hope this resolution did not pass. What a dumb idea to for the nfb to want to make Apple force app developers to make every app accessible. I think accessibility is important. However, it's a a really ridiculous idea to make every app accessible. Once again the nfb has to have something to bitch about. Excuse my language. Clearly the nfb are just a bunch of people who think they can get there way with anything. They are so clueless. How can you possibly make evry app accessible? You can't. I'm a blind developer myself, and I don't like the nfb for wanting to force Apple to have developers make all apps accessible. Like I said I totally agree with making apps accessible, some are just not meant to be accessible and that's that. I've lost all respect for them.

Submitted by tunmi13 on Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ok, sorry if this makes you guys think that I'm angry or something, but I have to throw this out.
Look what Apple has done. They've made a screen reader for iOS, Mac and Apple Watch! What else do they want Apple to do? They can't force a developer to make an app accessible because there are some apps out there, take Candy Crush for instance, that just cannot be made accessible at all, and even if the developer wanted to it would be *complicated*. Apple is trying to help, they're not lacking anything. I would rather have them talk about accessibility with Android and Microsoft rather then babbling about this Apple accessibility forcing developer stuff. It makes me furious! Not that my comments are trying to be furious about this, but as I'm writing now I'm 100% furious!!

Submitted by Joseph on Saturday, March 19, 2016

That was a few years ago though. not sure if it passed, but even so, the last poster is 100% correct. Some apps just can't be made accessible. That's just how things work sometimes. And then of course you have the devs who either don't know about VO, and thus may not know how to make their apps usable with it, or just don't give a damn.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Saturday, March 19, 2016

Well this is the same organization who protested about the movie MR. Magoo. It seen they will be only happy when they are the only one who decides what is accessibility. Maybe they want to be the only one in charge about how the blind community thinks.

Submitted by TJT 2001 on Saturday, March 19, 2016

Perhaps there is a reason why Apple decided to give a presentation at the 2015 American Council of the Blind National Conference and Convention rather than the NFB National Convention.

I don't belong to any blindness organizations. I despise these people, they do not represent me. You are absolutely right who the hell nfb think they are.

Submitted by Toonhead on Sunday, March 20, 2016

The language of the resolution sounds beautiful, accessible apps for everyone. But some apps just aren't made that way. There are a lot of games for the iPad that my 3-year old cousin would enjoy, but I might not. My 3-year old cousin can see, so there'd be no reason to add accessibility into the apps my aunt and uncle let her use, and there's only 2 or 3 of them. I think it might be better to strongly encourage mainstream app developers to add and, maintain accessibility to apps that blind people may have an interest in, like the ones we use already. I added in the maintain part because we've all seen the classic situation that app is great but then a new version comes out but it's accessibility has either dropped off considerably or completely. So it would be good to encourage them to keep accessibility in mind when making changes, and if accessibility drops off in beta testing, they should try to squash the bug during testing if possible. But some games, and other drawing apps aren't something we would even have an interest in using, so why add accessibility to those? It just seems rather unrealistic.

Submitted by Joseph on Sunday, March 20, 2016

Too true. Couldn't have said it better myself. I'm not a member of any blindness organization either, but when i see the NFB acting like this, it makes me question some things.

Submitted by Ahmed on Wednesday, February 12, 2020

In reply to by Justin

Their is an entire factor they need to consider and that’s the government angle of this issue because the idea of home appliances must have talking software is unrealistic because what’s the government supposed to do? Spend money making sure that all home appliances talk? It’s unrealistic second this idea that apps must be made accessible is also unrealistic because it’s up to the developer to implement full accessibility Besides some apps just can’t be made accessible and yes? I applaud their efforts