Advocates Want Better App Accessibility for Blind iOS Users
In an age when everyone uses a touchscreen-based smartphone, people who are blind or visually impaired are far from the exception. The iPhone is an especially useful device for those with disabilities, and advocates want the developers behind popular iOS apps to make it even more so by improving app access to be in line with Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) guidelines.
AppleInsider reports that members of the National Federation for the Blind will embark on a new campaign to get Apple to consider accessibility when approving apps for the iOS App Store. Advocates for the blind and visually impaired acknowledge that Apple’s additions of features like VoiceOver, plus screen-reading capabilities expected to deploy with iOS 8, have represented great improvement.
It’s perhaps counterintuitive, but the iconic smartphone that gave rise to the era of touch-based phones with few physical buttons has brought revolutionary accessibility features for those with disabilities. However, users and advocates argue that Apple hasn’t done enough to get third-party developers to add accessibility features to their apps, making the usefulness of Apple-built features like VoiceOver spotty, especially when apps don’t include button labels that the feature can read out loud.
The NFB sued Apple in 2008, and the company paid $250,000 and put new accessibility features for iTunes in place. Since then, it’s added accessibility improvements to the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Apple TV. NFB members aren’t yet calling for more litigation, but some view it as a possible, even inevitable development if Apple doesn’t find a way to improve accessibility or implement new requirements. As Reuters reports, advocates believe that federal law requires that apps be made accessible to everyone, but courts have not yet ruled on the issue.