Accessibility is Inclusion, and Should Ultimately be Mandatory for All
Many of you will not be surprised to learn that I disagree with all the sentiments expressed so far about the place of accessibility in today's technological world. Please know that, while vigorous, my disagreement is intended to be respectful. :-)
I believe that nonvisual accessibility is nothing more or less than a human right. We must have accessibility in order to be fully included in society. Equal accessibility to technology is crucial in order to live, learn, work and otherwise participate in today's world. I believe this need for accessibility as a human right applies to everything, including Apple and its third-party app developers.
In light of this viewpoint regarding accessibility, It's no wonder that I do think, in fact, that we VoiceOver users are getting the short end of the stick. iOS 8 hit the street with severe VoiceOver-related bugs that went unresolved for months. Many third-party app developers continue to exclude blind VoiceOver users in spite of our ongoing requests to improve accessibility.
Is Apple doing the best accessibility job of all technology companies right now? The answer is an unqualified "yes!" Of course, we should be thankful to Apple for its ongoing accessibility efforts. But, should we just be grateful for any scrap of access we get? Heck no!
I’d like to see Apple take accessibility from a nice-to-have product feature to a state of full inclusion. Specifically, I’d like to see Apple making accessibility bugs a higher priority during alpha and beta testing of its operating systems and I’d very much like to see Apple taking more serious steps to urge third-party app developers to incorporate accessibility into their products.
Excruciatingly slow on-screen keyboard input and broken web browsing certainly would not be tolerated by sighted iOS users for six months, so why should similar issues with Braille displays and VoiceOver in Safari have to be acceptable to us?
I would like to ask that Apple make sure to include employees with disabilities in the quality-assurance portions of their development processes, so that critical accessibility bugs do not so easily find their way into released products.
With respect to third-party developers, at a bare minimum, I would very much like to see Apple include an accessibility rating in the iOS and Mac app stores. Moving forward, I would like to see accessibility becoming a requirement that is phased in by app category. While there is little reason for business or productivity apps to remain inaccessible, it may be understandable for some drawing, game or photo apps. If an app developer does not submit an accessible app, I would like to see Apple return an initial denial that invites the developer to explain why the app can’t be made accessible. If the developer provides such an explanation, Apple should reserve the right to make useful suggestions that should be attempted before re-evaluating the app. Of course, these requirements should be applied both to brand-new apps and all subsequent updates.
I firmly believe that, if Apple took these steps, we would be seeing a huge improvement in the overall accessibility of iOS and Mac OS, and we would see a significant increase in the number of accessible apps in very short order.
In our advocacy with Apple and with third-party developers, I believe we can and should act with respect and professionalism, while not accepting the short end of the stick. Let’s frequently file bug reports and make support requests, tracking and reporting the results of each contact.
I have a couple of ideas that may help us move forward in a constructive manner:
1. How about forming a team of blind registered Apple developers who officially beta test and work together to report and track bugs with iOS and Mac OS?
2. How about we establish weekly strategy conference calls to discuss ways to effectively advocate?
Let’s all please keep in mind that, while we certainly must be polite and respectful when advocating, we also need to expect the professionalism and respect that comes from the other party’s serious consideration of our need for full inclusion through equal accessibility.
I hope this is helpful to some of you, and that there would be some interest in proactive advocacy. Please comment in this post or email me directly at Darrell (at) blindaccessjournal (dot) com.
I agree with what darrell said in this post. his explanation to me over the resolution last summer I can deal with. their are apps that can't be made to work with voiceover like drawing apps. I would be interested in working with him and others on having equal access all the way from apple and third party dev.
the problem is you can't, for lack of a better word, legislate people to do
the right thing, at least not in the longterm I don't believe.
Application developers and hardware manufacturers need to be made aware of how having their products accessible will increase their bottom line.
as much as a lot of blind people like to dismiss the notion of capitalism in this debate and make it just one of good will,
that's not the reality and if companies know that making something accessible benefits more than just a nitch market, they would be more
open to the idea. Voiceover isn't just for the blind and accessibility, no matter what form it comes in, often benefits people outside of it's intended target audience and The author completely misses that important fact.
everyone by design is special but that specialness doesn't mean that we should expect more without working for it like everyone else and working for it means being acutely aware of the economics of the situation which goes above and beyond the soft comfortable notion of "this is my right alone".
Inclusion is about insuring everyone, whether or not they have a disability, is afforded equal opportunities to participate in society, including those opportunities involving economic capitalism.
Apple is a sufficiently sizable company to get away with requiring accessibility from its third-party app developers. After a short time, accessibility would simply become the way business is done.
I believe there is an intersection between doing business according to capitalism and doing the right things for people, and that's exactly where human rights like accessibility sit.
Even Tim Cook has, on several occasions, stated that Apple is about much more than a simple return on investment. He has even invited disagreeing shareholders to invest elsewhere.
Can anyone here dispute Tim Cook's successful participation in the capitalist world?
Lots to be said on this topic, but I'm only going to tackle one small thing for now because it's bedtime here in London, and there are members who can debate the relationship between capitalism and accessibility with far greater eloquence than I can manage at 03:50am.
Quoting one sentence from the original post as follows:
"I believe that nonvisual accessibility is nothing more or less than a human right."
The flaw IMO are the first two words. You believe, but that doesn't necessarily make it so. Until it actually is acknowledged to be so on paper, you can toss the word "right" around all you like, but it's not a right, it's just something you want very much. In many ways I share your passion for it, but it's not even close to being a human right yet. NO doubt you'll argue that your approach will be what moves it closer toward being acknowledged as such. On that, we disagree.
Just wanted to quickly point that out because I've seen the word "right" being thrown around a few times on the site recently, and I think it's premature at best, careless at worst to be doing so.
Darrell, I understand what you are saying; however, I think there is more going on with respect to improving accessibility at Apple and across the various platforms than perhaps you are aware of. In addition, I can definitively state that I have worked with a number of developers over the last several years to improve accessibility for both the iOS and Mac platforms. Is the state of things perfect? Of course not, but it does not mean Apple or most third-party developers do not care. I absolutely can assure you of APple's commitment to accessibility and I know this first-hand. Just to be clear, I'm not discounting your concerns, but I do want to offer an alternate perspective and make sure others realize that Apple and third-party developers are listening. I would always encourage people reach out in a respectful way and educate developers. I can tell you that when I have contacted developers they often aware of the fact their app was not accessible or really considered accessibility. However, most once they are aware they really try hard to implement changes to improve the accessibility of their app. I like to refer to it as an accessibility enhancement which opens a larger market of users to them. :) Honestly, most developers do not do it for monetary gain, but because they truly do see it as the "right thing" to do and they want to ensure everyone can use their apps. In many ways I have seen much more focus on accessibility and to the point you read about it on "mainstream" blogs. Again, accessibility is not perfect, but it is getting more focus than ever.
I think this all comes down to awareness. I, too, have contacted a number of developers and most of the time, they're willing to make the necessary changes. But the disconnect comes when the developer of said app isn't aware that a blind person could possibly be using their app, or they learn about the accessibility tools that Apple provides, but it's something that never quite makes it into the app, because too many other things have been pushed to the top of the list. For me, accessibility should be at the top of the list, and if I had it my way, an app would be built with accessibility from the ground up. lots of apps already are, but that's not all of them. If we could somehow find a way to get app developers to understand how important accessibility is, I bet a lot more developers would consider it.
that's just it, some of the ideas that darrell has stated such as an accessibility rating in the app store are a good idea, and one i believe we do need.
First, I present my post with the intent that it would continue the respectful dialog established thus far on this topic. Regardless of whether we agree or not on mandating accessibility (there is a lot in your original post I disagree with, more on that below), I think it's important for all of us here...myself included...to not lose sight of the fact that we're all playing for the same team, if you will. I think it's safe to assume that all of us are here because we want to help improve the accessibility of Apple's products and the apps that run on those products.
It is very true that iOS 8 had a number of serious accessibility issues for VoiceOver users. However, iOS 8 had a number of serious issues in general, and sighted users were complaining just as much as VoiceOver users did. iOS 8 was rough by all accounts, but Apple released three major accessibility bug-fix updates in iOS 8.1, iOS 8.1.1, and iOS 8.3. If accessibility were just a "nice to have" feature as you suggest, we'd likely have not received this many updates so quickly. It's also worth remembering that accessibility includes not just VoiceOver, but many other things as well; in other words, we're not the only user group Apple's accessibility team builds features for.
As far as apps and accessibility, I honestly do believe that things are getting better. Over the last couple of years, I've seen more and more developers taking an interest in accessibility, and Apple's increased focus on accessibility will probably lead to even more of that. If mandating that all app developers make their apps accessible was that simple, Apple would have done it already.
With that said, I'm rather uncomfortable with this whole idea of treating Apple as an adversary--never being happy, always wanting more, more, more. Please understand that I am not, in any way, saying that we should "just be grateful for what we have" or that "we should be happy we have accessibility at all." What I am saying, however, is that we should seek first and foremost to work with Apple as a partner, not an enemy. Instead of portraying ourselves as helpless in a world of inequality and injustice, let's adopt the attitude that things are getting better, and that we want to help continue the trend. Let's congratulate Apple where they've done well and present our suggestions as ways they can make their products even better. And if they don't require that all apps are made accessible (again, if it was that simple...Apple would have done it already), perhaps we could consider that there are many different interests and many other explanations besides, "Apple doesn't care about its blind users."
there are three ways this could be done. the last to are similar but i will get to that in a second. the first way is the developers could have a checkbox to check when submitting their app to the ap store. the problem with this is developer's lack on knowledge of voiceover specifically but the whole idea of a disabled person using their app at all. if the developer is ignorant of such things their probably going to check the box not knowing if it is true or not. a brief story to illustrate my point here. in the windows store i know there was a check box at one point that said in the description of an app if it was accessible. i can only assume that it was checked by the developer. because after downloading the app it was not accessible at all. i'm not sure if that is still in the window's appstore but it was a total fail. using this as an example i can then only assume the app store will be flooded with an onslaught of pps that claim to be accessible but which actually aren't. then we will be in a worse off situation then we were in if we didn't have the rating at all. the second and third ways are closely related so i will lump them in all as one. we could have either the appstore submission people test the apps for accessibility or we could have the general population of voiceover and other related AT users test apps for accessibility. but the main flaw in that is that accessibility means many different things for different people. one person might think an app is fine and give it the thumbs up that its accessible. but then if someone else comes along and tries it out they could have a completely different take on the app and say actually its not its really only usable for one reason or another. for many different reasons. you just have to look briefly at the many different topics here about asking for help with an app to understand that people see apps differently and people's skill with using voiceover and their attitude on how they use said app colors their thoughts. of course this site has worked really well for checking of something is accessible or not, so maybe it might work better in practicality than first thought. but then if the appstore does implement something like an accessibility rating and its driven by user input, that would toss applevis out in the cold on a huge part of the site here. hopefully this made sense just woke up and haven't had coffee yet. happy forth to all.
edit: after posting i saw another comment pop up. and very much agree with the sentiments express by lad.
Hi! We mustn't forget that accessibility on Apple devices isn't just available for blind people, there are features to help people with other disabilitties as well, such as the deaf and physically disabled. So, if Apple ever brings in an accessibility rating as some have suggested here, it would have to specify what kind of accessibility the app in question has. Obviously, the users posting to this site are more likely to be interested in VoiceOver, and also Zoom in the case of people with enough vision to use Apple device screens with their eyes, but we're not the only ones who benefit from Apple's accessibility features, and I think any accessibility ratings should reflect that, clarifying what kind of accessibility it has, whether that means VoiceOver or any other feature which can help disabled people.
Some of us do, actually, have legal rights to access. I'm not as up as I'd like to be on EU law as it applies to people with disabilities, and I guess countries in the EU differ, but I know you do have some access rights.
In the US, where I live, We have the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act),a piece of civil rights legislation, which granted people who have disabilities equal access to goods and services twenty-five years ago. That's our law, passed by the mechanisms that the US has for passing laws, and passed with bipartisan support and there is no movement which I'm aware of to overturn it.
The law puts the responsibility for this access on both public and private entities. Regardless of the loopholes and problems with implementation, that's the principle. Entities that are not required to provide access are private clubs which don't admit everyone, or advirtise publically and private individuals, meaning we don't have to make our homes accessible.
So, for example, a private business is responsible for the ramps a wheelchair user needs to get inside. In another country, that person might have legal equal rights, but it might be accomplished by providing them with strong assistants who carry them up stairs. Or the government might have sole responsibility for putting in the ramps, or might pay business owners to provide access. They might mandate that even private homes be designed with wheelchair access. Or they might define equality as purely the right to enter if you can, meaning if that person can drag themself up the stairs on their butt, you can't turn them away. I don't exactly like everything about the US law, but this is what my civil rights are in this country. Companies that wish to benefit from doing business in the US have to comply with US law. Nobody forces them to do business here. One problem here is that we don't have a real system for enforcing the ADA, except for individuals making complaints or filing lawsuits.
A notable missing piece in the ADA is that product manufacturers and designers are not included. Builders of buildings are covered, which means that physical access will be built into new buildings. Excluding product manufacturers creates a mess for some disability groups. So, for example, my local laundromat is required to give me equal access to their machines, but the people who manufacture these machines which are designed specifically for public use, legally produce clothes driers where one needs to use a flat screen to set temperature and designate which machine is being paid for. One might think that capitalism would come into play here - if you want to sell your clothes driers to laundromats which have to comply with a law, you make the design change so you can sell your product. And these controls are probably problematic for other groups of people also. If one manufacturer puts in this form of access, theoretically, laundromats would suddenly all purchase from them. But that's the problem with hoping capitalism can give us better access. It's just not a big enough component and we're just not a big enough market to make this sort of change financially worth even considering, regardless of how little it would actually cost.
Because of this exclusion of manufacturers, other measures have been put into place to partly fill it. FCC regulations require product manufacturers to make phones which are accessible to people with different communication disabilities, for example, in every product line, meaning they must have *some* fully accessible phones, not that all phones must be accessible.
Additionally, while web sites as public services, or commercial entities barely existed when the ADA was passed and phones with apps didn't exist, recent rulings in the US indicate that our judicial system does, in fact, consider access to them to be our right under the ADA.
apple, to do business in the US, does have to produce accessible phones. They have made the decision to do this in a really beneficial way by deciding to include access on all their products and they do it better than any other company by really integrating many forms of access and supporting these features better than any other business does.
third party app developers also have access obligations if they want to sell in the US. Aand if any of them have government contracts, they have even more stringent access requirements.
So, yes access to our phones and to third party apps *is* a civil right in the US. In practice, developers can get away with ignoring access unless they work for a company like Amazon or Western Union which are big enough for someone to sue, but it is my legal right to have access to most of these apps.
We don't have to like it. If someone wants to encourage blind people *not* to try to get this right enforced, or to ignore the legal requirements and ask developers nicely to be kind to us, you also have that right. And, in truth it may be a more effective method, especially with small developers. However, again, in the US, we do have a legal right to this access.
I love my iPhone and appreciate Apple for the way they implemented access. I do think, however, that they are basically violating my legal rights when they release upgrades that do (*not* provide me with equal access. Because once they release a new iOS, they don't sell new phones with the last iOS, they don't allow me to go back to the previous iOS if it had better access, and they pressure me to upgrade when I go for support, sometimes stating they can't help me until I upgrade. And they don't warn us about access problems before we obtain the new iOS. If they rectified all of these problems, they would probably be in the right, legally, but what would be the point?
I also think that technically, in the US, they may be violating my rights by not at least providing and mandating something like a self-assessment tool to developers. They don't just put up a store as a marketplace to sell any app anyone puts together, and they don't make it possible to purchase apps that are not in their store. So, the store and the requirements they place on developers to be included *are* part of their product.I haven't heard any blind people claiming that someone developing a graphical app for the purpose of visual design needs to figure out how to make the actual graphics accessible. But there is no reason they shouldn't make their controls accessible, and I should be able to look in the app store and see a list that includes "compatible with VoiceOver," and a second statement, something like "the essence of the product is not useful for blind people", or "product is intrinsically visual."just as the blindfold games might state "essence of product not useful to deaf people," or "the product is essentially auditory." The phrasing would take some thought.
I have heard from enough developers of products which I *could* make use of that they were not previously aware of VoiceOver access, to think that Apple has not lived up to their responsiblity in this area. My thoughts at this moment are that they should not necessarily be responsible for evaluating the accessibility of all apps, but if they had a tool for developer self-evaluation and we had information from the developer to work with, developers of apps which we do have a right to access ,would have to confront their decisions, and couldn't say "we didn't know." The developers who would happily provide access would be alerted to the need, and we, as end users would have a lot more useful information.
I've worked with the ADA, and on the surface it seems like this would work, but accessibility means many different things to many different people. As has been stated already, accessibility doesn't just mean VoiceOver. What about hearing impaired? what about people with other cognative issues? or any other disability you can think of. It is impossible to place such a rating on accessibility, folks. It sounds great, but if you can figure out a way to legislate it, and make sure that all apps are accessible, I'd love to see it. I very much want this too, but this rating business isn't going to make an impact with sighted folks. All apps are accessible to sighted folks. The only one that it matters to are the people with the disabilities themselves, and that's why Applevis exists in the first place. It is better to have a site like this that lets people know if an app is accessible, rather than having to wade through several hundred apps, only to find the one you picked just isn't getting the job done as far as accessibility goes. I'm sorry if this upsets some of you but this is how I see it.
First, I would love to see this post of Darrell's promoted to the AppleVis blog. Michael's objective review pointing out not just the strengths, but the weaknesses of the Apple Watch, gives me hope that we may be seeing a maturing of the AppleVis site. My perception has been that largely, AppleVis has seen itself as a fan site. But that doesn't prevent objective, well-reasoned criticism. Those of you who follow me on Twitter know that I read a lot of tech media. Many Apple sites I read are willing to point out where Apple needs to do better. We too need a site that dispenses critical analysis.
We can be profoundly grateful, as indeed I am, for all that Apple has achieved, while also pointing out that there is much left to do, and thinking about how we can best be a constructive part of the solution. I've written a number of posts on my own blog about accessibility concerns with iOS. Marco Zehe wrote a thought-provoking piece on his blog about OS X and how it has been left largely to languish in an accessibility context for some years, as well as another on iOS quality control concerns. Just last week, Brian Hartgen wrote an articulate, thought-provoking piece on why he doesn't believe he can get his work done efficiently in OS X. So these thoughtful posts are out there, and it would be nice to see AppleVis being more of a team player in our community and offering to syndicate, or at least linking to these well-reasoned post, so one site can truly act as a conduit on Apple discussion in our community.
Anyway, this post for now is in the forums, and I'd like to comment on its substance.
I am in full agreement with Darrell that accessibility is a fundamental human right. It is protected by domestic legislation in many jurisdictions, and it is also protected by the United Nations Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, to which many countries are signatories. Physical access to the built environment is now well-understood and accepted. We're still coming to grips with translating those same concepts into their cyber equivalents. How that manifests itself in real-world outcomes is still a matter of evolving case law, and where necessary, it's important we test those boundaries.
In the case of Apple, however, I don't think there could be much dispute that they have displayed a remarkable sense of commitment, good will, and allocation of resources towards the blind community. In 2009, when VoiceOver was introduced to iOS, Apple could have done just enough to claim that they had satisfied the requirements of section 255 of the US Telecommunications Act. They have done far, far more than the minimum. There have been substantive improvements, at least in VoiceOver for iOS, every year. Apple isn't doing this because a lawyer is breathing down its neck. Nor is Apple doing it because it has a huge positive impact on its bottom line. In fact, we know some investors are less than thrilled about the return on investment from technologies like VoiceOver.
I get the impression that Apple loves the impact its technology has to change lives because of a genuinely strong corporate social conscience. They get a kick out of it, and we as blind people have had our quality of life improved immeasurably as a result. In an era where it's all too easy to be cynical about corporations, it is a fantastic story.
My wife and I just got back from a weak in a place we've never visited before. Armed with my iPhone, I was able to navigate unfamiliar surroundings, find out about museums, places to eat, and even read the compendium in our hotel room. The iPhone just rocks.
I'm saying all this because I really want to convey that it is possible to be profoundly grateful for how far we've come, and still respectfully seek even better things at the same time. It's not greedy, and it's not ungrateful, it's our right as paying consumers, and it's our duty as advocates.
My greatest concern, as i have blogged about in the past, is the poor state of contracted Braille input on Apple products. I don't know whether Apple lacks Braille literate engineers or QA people, but their contracted input lags far behind the quality of the rest of its screen reader. As a blind adult who's read Braille for years, I can work around that, but I shouldn't have to. A feature should be just as fit for blind people as any feature for the sighted should be fit for purpose. The Braille input in iOS reflects a lack of market research and understanding of market need. It especially has a huge impact on blind kids, who might be given an iPad under the mistaken belief that it is an acceptable solution in a classroom. And then there is a market we should never forget, the Deaf Blind. Braille isn't an adjunct for them, it's not a nice optional extra, it is absolutely essential. If there were ever a need for another AppleVis campaign of the month, it is the Braille input crisis on iOS devices.
I also agree with Darrell that the iOS 8 fiasco hit blind people harder than most other Apple users. Yes, there were some serious quality control issues across the board with iOS 8, and no, I don't believe iOS 8 demonstrated a lessening of Apple's commitment to us as a market. It was just a mess for everyone. However, when that mess extends to completely disabling VO in certain Braille configurations, or serious lags with certain kinds of input, or being unable to use the web effectively, then quality control issues are a bigger deal for us. It's the nature of this market. We are more vulnerable in this respect.
Regarding Darrell's specific suggestion about a group of blind iOS testers getting together to compare notes and file quality bug reports, through my company Appcessible, I started such a group last year. We have a private mailing list where we see if we can duplicate bugs, then file bugs which hopefully are clearer because we've all been able to compare notes and find ways to duplicate issues. Those with iOS developer accounts are welcome to contact me if they would like to be a part of this team. I'm proud to have started this group in an attempt to be a part of the solution. And of course there is no reason why there can't be several such groups, although i would think a large team working together may achieve the best results.
In closing, let me make two points. First, while I am heavily invested in the Apple Ecosystem because of all the Apple devices I now own, my impression is that overall, iOS users are quite a bit better off than Android users in terms of accessibility. Apple deserves every award, every accolade, they have received. So let's not forget to put pressure on other companies who aren't doing as well. It's natural that many of us will focus strongly on Apple, because of how many blind people are now using Apple mobile devices.
Finally, it can be quite hard to get to people at Apple who can really make decisions, and blind people have become used to a more personal style of dialogue with their screen reader manufacturers. If you subscribe to the Eyes Free email list for Android, for example, you will often see developers posting there. People may be frustrated by their answers, or the speed of change, but still, you know who they are and they are posting. These are not QA engineers, these are product managers and developers. That's not really Apple's style. But it would be good for us to find ways to engage constructively in ways that foster a partnership, to build on the amazing job already started.
Darrell is right though, there is room for improvement, and we shouldn't be hesitant to say so.
I to, agree with everything Daral said, however the VoiceOver bugs i reported in the beta of yosemite, all were fixed, son i'd say, apple are listening more now. so when are we going to start aedvacateing, and doing these weekly conference calls? and how will we make a dialog with apple with regard to accessibility beyond what we're all ready doing and as well, to bring this outside apple for a bit, Google, and microsoft should be doing more for accessibility. i don't really know much about the current of windows phone with narrator, but last i herd it doesn't work well with most third-party apps. Google should stop relying on Samsung to build accessibility into andro89id. after all, most of the accessibility features in Lollipop, came directly from samsung. and what of macademanut cookie? these mainstream companies should take a page from apples book and take narrator and google talkback more sioiosly. hell, samsung listened to the talkback users, and built it's own screen reader in the s6. if this keeps up, my next phone will be an s6 and i'll do whatever the opasit of promotion is for the nexus 6. just as google is fixing talkback though, blackberry who have abandoned their os, they
've come out with android phones with physical keyboards. this includes another set of the population, who for whatever reason, can't use touch screen keyboards- I being one of them. so every player in this market seems to be doing something for accessibility. let's hope for more development in this field, and amazon are doing their part to, with their kindle fire h d x, just remember that, don't through them under the bus.
I also agree with Jonathan on what he said. I too believe that equal access is a right, not a nice to have feature. I too use my iOS device everyday to do tasks from reading menus, to reading my mail I get in my post box every day. I would be very lost with out my iPhone, and grew up having to go through the high cost of equal access. we shouldn't be afraid to say something if their is need for improvement.
First, I'm going to start by stating that this post is nothing official on the stance of AppleVis, nor is it a stance the staff of the site take. It's my opinion, and I've no idea whether the rest of the Editorial staff agree with me or not.
That out of the way, yes, we need to be critical of Apple just like any other company when it comes to technology or any other place where something is not usable by us as people with disabilities. For me, as someone who is deaf-blind, I have a different idea of what is "accessible" than someone who only uses gestures on their iPhone coupled with speech output.
I agree with Jonathan that something really needs to be done about the braille input issues found with iOS 8. Though I've written a guide on how to speed up input, and it does seem to work in most situations, a guide like that wouldn't be needed in an ideal world. And then we have an issue which has been on the table since the implementation of braille input altogether, and that is, the issue of translation. While I can work within these issues, should I have to? No. And so while I'm grateful for all that has been done, I still press on diplomatically attempting to educate Apple on what I see could be improved upon.
But at the end of the day, let's have a look at other platforms. Because I'm writing this, and because I consider an operating system usable by me if I can use it with braille, there simply is no other choice. <a href="http://chrishofstader.com/testing-android-a-deaf-blind-perspective/"> Android's braille support leaves a lot to be desired,</a> and built-in support for braille on the Windows platform, mobile OS or no, doesn't exist. Yes, the Android article was written last year, but Braille support has changed very little since that time, and so I still link to it.
My point is that there are accessibility issues for me on every platform, and there always will be. Though Apple is the leader in the pack, and a certain organization picks on them the most, the reason for this, I think, is because Apple is trying. However, Microsoft and Google are much bigger fish to fry, and I don't think a hefty contribution toward sponsorship of said consumer organization should disqualify both companies from the truth that they have a ton of work to do. In the interim, I'll vote with my wallet by not purchasing either Windows Mobile or Android devices. Because, simply put, that's what works best for me. IN 3 or 4 years, I hope to have a choice just like everyone else does. But if not, well, I will remain vocal about my choice and why.
We can’t, as pointed out earlier, claime to speak for the accessibility of someone who needs to use a switch control, someone who uses the TTY function of iDevices, etc, unless we’ve used it ourselves. And then there are people who use Bluetooth keyboards almost exclusively with VoiceOver, or those like myself who try to only use braille as often as possible. Braille isn’t a luxery for me, it’s my lifeline.
So when and where will all of this advocacy start? I'm ready to do my part, what about the rest of you? Posting here is a start, but the likelihood Apple will read this is quite low.
Granted I am on Applevis but every time I read one of these posts it's always frustrating that we only go after Apple. For example NFB and the resolution only mentioned Apple last year and I wonder why that is? Could it be Microsoft or Google is donating something? We are talking about equal access, but I would argue where are we exactly getting equal access anywhere in life? If I read my mail it takes me minutes to read who it is from where my dad who can see can look at the letter and move on in seconds. Yes it is great KNFB exsists, but it doesn't make me equal to my sighted counterpart. Does it allow me to be indipendent sure. Do I think we should have some mention in the Appstore yes. Again I'm not sure how you could do that easily. Even on Applevis we argue what is or what isn't accessible. I just read someone on facebook mention Sirius wasn't working with voiceover, but I navigate it just fine so again do I want Apple or just some random user saying something can't work? The standards you'd have to set would be interesting. In Louisville are local tv is required to do audio discription, and guess what I can't navigate my tv menues on my own to get it turned on. Even if I did or could most of the time it would be in spanish so it defeats the purpose. I just find it wierd that Apple continues to be the only one mentioned with this everything has to be accessible march. I do commend Dan for saying something, because not to many others did.
Hi everyone. At first when I read Darrell's post here on Friday evening, I was not too thrilled. But after giving it some thought and reading all these comments, I have to agree. I'm not in any way, shape or form trying to give a thumb's-down to advocacy. As a matter of fact I feel it's extremely important for all of us to stand up for our rights and be counted. I guess my issue is with some of the methods by which people go about this advocacy. But I could go on and on about that, which I won't do here. I'll just say that I totally agree with those of you who want Apple and these other mainstream companies to implement some sort of a rating system for accessibility. What that system should look like I'm not certain, but it would definitely help out not only the disability community but app developers too. Having said all that, I'm very happy with what Apple has done already in terms of screen reader access. The only 2 products of theirs which I own at this time are a MacBook Air and a SuperDrive, and the SuperDrive most probably doesn't need to be made more accessible since all you do is slide in a CD and eject it when iTunes is done doing its thing. In terms of VoiceOver on my MBA, I couldn't be happier. It's built right in as opposed to being tacked on as an after-thought, and it does exactly as advertised plus a bit more. I'm excited to see what the future holds for VO, and hopefully someday in the not-so-distant future I will get my hands on an i-device of some sort.
Apple needs to take away the displays of their programmers for a couple of months. Then their software would quickly become fully blind-accessible, and VoiceOver would likely get some overhauls too. Only once their own software meets a more stringent accessibility baseline, can they start rejecting third-party apps from the app store.
Let me preface by saying that I definitely agree with the original poster's desire to see a greater pursuit of accessibility across the board.
However, from a purely objective standpoint, I have to disagree that equal access is a right, in every situation. Yes, I have the right to equal access to materials and services provided by my government. That is because I am a tax-paying citizen. But that equal access is not a right afforded me by virtue of being a human being. It's afforded me by virtue of being a citizen of the United States.
So what about equal access to things existing in the private sector? One can make the argument that equal access to information is a universal right, or equal access to public services...But as far as equal access to items being sold in the private sector - I wish I didn't have to disagree, but I do. Apple, technically speaking, doesn't owe me anything. If they want to make a product that I can't lose, and lose my business, that's their right. If I can't eat gluten, I can't sue the baker down the street for not selling gluten-free brownies. I just go to another baker, and the baker down the street loses my business. If I can't find a baker, I can't sue the government and make them require that bakers sell gluten-free brownies, because access to brownies is not a human right. You can lead a healthy, functional, productive life without brownies.
It's a complex issue, and it all hinges on questions of what sorts of things are required for equivalent productivity in society, and which are just nice things to have. But I think when you start looking at the logical implications of saying that accessibility in regards to privately produced technology is a right, you find that it leads to some major inconsistencies.
Again, please understand that I wish you were right. I'm just not convinced that you are. So if we're going to make this sort of argument, we need to be able to back it up. Why is access to an iPhone not the same as access to brownies? That's the question we need to be able to answer.
If I can't eat a brownie, because I am allergic to Gluten, then I can still eat other forms of food, many of which provide me with far better nutritional value. I am not going to be forced out of a job or lose an educational opportunity because I am being excluded from enjoying the baker's Gluten-filled brownie.
The stakes can be far higher when we're talking about inaccessible technology. I have already lost one job due to inaccessible software, and there are serious concerns about a similar issue with the job I have right now, so I believe I know what I am talking about when it comes to the high-stakes nature of the need for equal access to information and technology for blind people.
Ultimately, though, I am correct about equal accessibility being a right because the governments of the United States and several other countries have made it a right through laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Federal Rehabilitation Act, the Disability Discrimination Act and many others. Despite the severe limitation in all these laws, they do spell out that, at least in some situations, accessibility is a right, even in the private sector.
Having said all this, the right, humane thing for the baker to do would be to bake at least a few Gluten-free brownies, so that she is fully including as many of her customers as she possibly can in the enjoyment of her products.
Can you point out in those federal laws where the private sector is included in that right? To identify this right the government gives in the private sector, we must find the provisions in law somewhere. We need the specific citation that includes the language of private sectors as well.
Yes, we have equal access to jobs, food, government services, and in some cases, the private sector. Unfortunately, I have never seen language in the anti discrimination laws to include equal access to the private sector for disabled users. My supervisor who has worked in anti discrimination law for almost 30 years can't even find the language.
The best he can come up with is that all government services must be accessible to all. Besides, Congress can't create commerce laws that govern the products being manufactured and sold. To put it closer, Congress cannot make a law that mandates all operating system manufacturers to include a fully functioning screen reader. Along the same lines, Congress can't force a baker to create every type of brownie possible, just so the person down the road can have one.
The rehab act requires all state and federal governments to produce or purchase software and equipment that is accessible out of the box, or that can be made accessible with minimal effort. The ADA law sets out provisions that require all federal and private sector employers to treat the disabled candidate equal with their non disabled counterparts while applying for or working at a job site. This still does not establish that Apple or Microsoft must manufacture an accessible computing environment. So far, we have identified requirements that the government must go with the most accessible solution possible. This is why most schools have adopted Apple products in the classroom. They generally are more accessible and cheaper to keep up to date with accessibility. Either way, post some provisions from the anti discrimination laws that includes private sector language, then we can talk.