Potential Advantages of ABC-format On-Screen Keyboard Option for iOS Devices Especially for Use By People Who Were Never Touch-Keyboarders, and Have Become Visually Impaired in Their Later Years.
An "ABC" keyboard layout option (i.e., a keyboard where the three rows of letter keys are arranged in alphabetical order from "A" through "Z") could significantly expand accessibility to people with severe vision impairment, especially older adults who have acquired vision loss in their later years. Most people can readily recite their ABCs. This ability organizes the task of learning to read and write, and then continues to assist in the organization of written language throughout our lives.
Yet, even people like me, a 60+ words-per-minute touch keyboarder on a standard "QWERTY" keyboard, still would have some difficulty knowing, for instance, what letters are before and after the "K" on a QWERTY keyboard, although I would readily be able to know that "J" and "L" are before and after the letter "K" in the alphabet. Especially for people who are unfamiliar with a QWERTY keyboard, it is much more difficult to locate specific letters on a QWERTY keyboard when accessing the keyboard using Voiceover cues that are activated using just one finger-tip scanning around the keyboard to find the right key. It seems as if efficiency of learning and subsequent use for locating keys on an on-screen iOS keyboard would be greatly increased for some people with severe vision impairment if an ABC-layout option was available in the list of alternate keyboards within accessibility options.
The somewhat paradoxical dilemma of implementing this option is this:
In 2011, I posted this suggestion on AppleVis, the Apple-sponsored discussion forum for accessibility options for people who are blind, and, as expected, it received no response, either for or against. My belief is that people in the vision-impaired/blind community who are able to access and contribute to AppleVis are already very comfortable with willing to access and contribute to the AppleVis forum are already very comfortable with a QWERTY keyboard. The option of an ABC-layout is irrelevant to them, and so no one bothers to comment, and the suggestion went nowhere.
So, please, I am asking you to comment on this post, on the AppleVis website, either for or against. Consider for one moment that segment of the visually impaired population who may lack familiarity with QWERTY-layout keyboards, and give them at least a fighting chance to access these amazing iOS devices.