National Federation of the Blind says "Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company"

Posted:
in iPhone edited July 2014
On Friday, the president of the National Federation of the Blind clarified the group's recent resolution calling on Apple to collaborate with the group's efforts to expand accessibility among third party apps, noting a "good relationship" despite a "provocative and poorly reported article" on the subject released by Reuters.

iOS & OS X Accessibility


Mark A. Riccobono addressed Apple and the NFB's recent resolution regarding the accessibly of apps for iOS devices in a blog update linked to by John Gruber of Daring Fireball.

Riccobono noted the resolution involved a longstanding debate within the group and that "the issues raised in the resolution are not new." However, he also noted that "some media reports made inaccurate assertions about the resolution, its content, and what actions the NFB will take to carry it out."

He continued, "Many of these inaccurate assertions have been fueled by a provocative and poorly reported article from the Reuters news service, linked here only for reference. Reuters has already been forced to correct the article because it reported, inaccurately, that the National Federation of the Blind once brought suit against Apple, Inc.

"This never happened, although a demand letter was sent regarding the accessibility of iTunes and iTunes U, and the Massachusetts Attorney General opened an investigation. Those actions resulted in a voluntary agreement with Apple that was a significant step in getting us the accessibility we experience today."

"Apple has gone far beyond"

AppleInsider originally reported on Reuters coverage of resolution, including the wire service's factual inaccuracy. Both the original report and the link to it by AppleInsider have since been corrected.

AppleInsider also detailed Apple's extensive history in providing accessibility features for Mac and iOS users, with features that still remain poorly implemented on Google's Android platform.

Riccobono's subsequent clarification noted many of the same points, stating, "In the wake of its commitment to making iTunes and iTunes U accessible to blind users, Apple has gone far beyond the scope of that original agreement and made the vast majority of its products accessible to the blind.

"It has done so by incorporating VoiceOver, a powerful screen reader, into the majority of its products, including its Mac computers, the Apple iPhone and iPad, and Apple TV. The native apps on these devices are accessible, and Apple has set forth developer guidelines that allow third-party apps to be made accessible."

Still more to do in collaborating with Apple, NFB says

"Many of the 1.2 million (and counting) apps available in the iOS app store have a high degree of accessibility for blind users. Many more, however, are not," Riccobono added.

"In addition, a recurring problem is that when apps are updated to new versions, blind users find that accessibility has been compromised, either deliberately or accidentally. With no way to revert to a previous version of the app, the blind user must simply hope that the developer rectifies the problem quickly. "Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date" NFB president Mark Riccobono

"No one seriously disputes that these problems cause blind iPhone users a great deal of frustration, and that they sometimes result in real threats to a blind person's education, productivity, or employment. Smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices are increasingly replacing desktop computers in educational and employment settings, making access to apps intended for such devices not merely convenient but often essential."

"The National Federation of the Blind has been struggling with how to address these problems for years. Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards (including our annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award) and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises.

"We do not want to needlessly antagonize a company that has been such an outstanding accessibility champion. Nevertheless, inaccessible apps continue to proliferate, and blind users cannot update the apps on their iPhones without anxiety."

Riccobono continued by noting that the text of the NFB's resolution states, "this organization call 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, and to ensure that accessibility is not lost when an app is updated."

"We have a good relationship with Apple"

"People have asserted that we have thrown Apple under the bus, and are making demands and threats, including the threat of litigation. But none of this is in the text of the resolution," Riccobono added. "As President of the National Federation of the Blind, the individual charged with seeing that this resolution is carried out, I understand the resolution to mean exactly what it says: we are calling upon Apple to work with us. "We have a good relationship with Apple, and it is our desire for that relationship to continue" - NFB

"We are not issuing an ultimatum or a threat. We are not demanding anything. We are certainly not condemning Apple; there is much praise for the company in the many 'whereas' clauses that precede the 'resolved' clause. We have a good relationship with Apple, and it is our desire for that relationship to continue."

Riccobono also stated, "I recently spent time at Apple's headquarters talking about accessibility and critical concerns we have heard from blind people. We simply want Apple to continue to discuss with us what measures the company can put in place to ensure accessibility. The resolution does not state what measures we want, or demand that Apple implement any policy in particular," adding that the group's discussions with Apple are "similar to the dialog we want to continue to facilitate with all of the players in this industry, including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft."

He concluded, "The stakes are too high for the blind to settle for hit-or-miss accessibility. They are nothing less than whether the blind will be equal and included or isolated and excluded in a world driven by personal technology. Everyone agrees that the status quo is not acceptable. We must, and we will, try to change it."

NFB echo Stevie Wonder's praise for Apple's accessibility efforts

Nearly three years ago, Stevie Wonder gave a similar shoutout to Steve Jobs for Apple's pioneering efforts to make the iPhone and iPad fully accessible to disabled users.

"I want you all to give a hand to someone that you know whose health is very bad at this time," the performer stated on stage in late 2011. "His company took the challenge in making his technology accessible to everyone. In the spirit of caring and moving the world forward, Steve Jobs."

He added, "because there's nothing on the iPhone or iPad that you can do that I can't do. As a matter of fact, i can be talking to you, you can be looking at me, and I can be doing whatever I need to do and you don't even know what I'm doing!"

Apple is expanding its support for new accessibility features in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, including new APIs and tools to make it even easier for developers to add accessibility support in their third party apps, in addition to testing their implementations to make sure they work well for users who rely on accessibility features.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,246member
    Sloppy reporting making Apple look bad? Shocker! But I thought it was only new media that did that . . .
  • Reply 2 of 40
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,354member

    There is sloppy reporting everywhere.

     

    True journalism died in the Nineties.

  • Reply 3 of 40
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member

    First sentence; body of article:

    Mark A. Riccobono  (who is the… blah blah blah?)  addressed Apple and the NFB's…

     

    Who the hell is he? It should state title (or something) right after his name.

    (Composition 101)

  • Reply 4 of 40
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,354member

    Quod erat demonstrandum

     

    (Sadly.)

  • Reply 5 of 40
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post

    Mark A. Riccobono  (who is the… blah blah blah?)

    Who the hell is he? It should state title (or something) right after his name. (Composition 101)


     

    Reminds me of a bit… maybe Seinfeld did it? Anyway, you know how in local papers they’ll have the name and then the age in parentheses? Like “Ted Olsen (45) says he can no longer balance his checkbook or his life.” What they should really have is the IQ. That’d make more sense. “Ted Olsen (87), says he can no longer balance his checkbook or his life.”

     

    In our case, we should have a percentage of predictions correct.

     

    “DigiTimes (4) says Apple will be launching a 15” iWatch last month.”

  • Reply 6 of 40
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member

    "Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards (including our annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award) and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises."

     

    So here's what I want to know.

    If Apple has been so great, then who is it who has not been so great? Why is the NFB not calling these companies on the carpet; starting with the worst offender? (that has to be somebody).

    It's just like Greenpeace. Take the company who is doing the most and the best, and then see if you can find which little thing they are not doing, and then publicly flog them for it.

     

    You know what, Riccobono; just shut up about Apple altogether! Apple actually doesn't need your defense. Just go after (publicly) those companies who are actually not rising to the standards that Apple has set. That way you will actually be doing something for your constituents.

  • Reply 7 of 40
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,428member

    I wonder what the percentage of blind users is for iOS vs Android?

     

    I wouldn't be surprised if it's 99% iOS and 1% Android.

     

    I had a granduncle who was blind, who passed many decades ago, and he was a craftsman who would carve the most amazing sculptures out of wood. He had more vision in his fingers than most people have in their eyeballs.

     

    If he was still around, I am 100% certain that he would be rocking an iPhone.:smokey: 

  • Reply 8 of 40
    normmnormm Posts: 548member

    Rather than adding rules to try to force developers to make their apps more accessible, why not establish a foundation to provide funding targeted at helping developers do this?  Such a foundation might also help accessible apps stay alive and accessible, and finance new ones.

  • Reply 9 of 40
    kibitzerkibitzer Posts: 1,113member
    bobschlob wrote: »
    "Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards (including our annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award) and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises."

    So here's what I want to know.
    If Apple has been so great, then who is it who has not been so great? Why is the NFB not calling these companies on the carpet; starting with the worst offender? (that has to be somebody).
    It's just like Greenpeace. Take the company who is doing the most and the best, and then see if you can find which little thing they are not doing, and then publicly flog them for it.

    You know what, Riccobono; just shut up about Apple altogether! Apple actually doesn't need your defense. Just go after (publicly) those companies who are actually not rising to the standards that Apple has set. That way you will actually be doing something for your constituents.

    So you would rather publicly shame the laggards rather than gain their cooperation to catch up to the example set by Apple? Sadly, your comment speaks more about you than it does about accessibility.
  • Reply 10 of 40
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,428member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Kibitzer View Post



    So you would rather publicly shame the laggards rather than gain their cooperation to catch up to the example set by Apple? Sadly, your comment speaks more about you than it does about accessibility.

     

    Of course! Why shouldn't the others be shamed?

     

    Apple is all that a blind person needs. I don't care about blind Android users or any other kind of Android users. Why would a blind person choose Android in the first place?

  • Reply 11 of 40
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member
    Even with this back tracking I still think these guys are way off base here. They are still demanding that all apps be blind accessible, while hat might be a lofty goal in an ideal world it has nothing to do with the world we live in. For one many small time developers do not have the resources to support the blind and frankly many apps simply aren't making the big bucks to even stay on App Store. Not to mention is the free apps that are given to the world by people with no desire to make money and usually as spare time efforts.

    In a nut shell the demand that all apps be blind accessible is nonsense. This is exspecually the case with games whci frankly aren't usable without sight.

    I really don't wish to be unkind and frankly would never want to be blind but I really see this as an unreasonable expectation on the part of this association. I engage in many tasks and hobbies that I cant even imagine doing safely blind. Personal health problems right now prevent me from doing some things that would put either me of the public in danger. Everybody has or eventually ages into limitation as to what they can do, it is something you can resist but really can't beat.

    A few months ago I read an article about a blind woodworker who made a living professionally. That is an amazing accomplishment considering that I do a bit as a hobby. From my stand point it would be extremely dangerous but yet he is successful. Successful by the way with machinery never designed to support the blind. Obviously where there is a will there is a way!

    In any event let's say that the Association here started to demand that all wood working equipment be suitable for use by the blind. Is that a reasonable requirement? What is it explodes the price of the equipment in such a way that it makes the tools inaccessible to more people, via increased expense than it realistically makes usable to the blind. Also what do we do about the small time supplier of tools that simply doesn't have the resources to meet the demands being place upon them. In the end not everything can be realistically tailored to support the blind here and the same goes for software.

    That shouldn't mean that everybody gets a free ride either. I just don't see where universal support is possible. It should be there when possible but we shouldn't be putting excess restrictions on small time developers, especially if the software isn't of use to the blind in the first place. Not to mention all the free software that is put on App Store by people with no intention of making a profit or even finishing the product.
  • Reply 12 of 40
    bobschlob wrote: »
    "Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards (including our annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award) and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises."

    So here's what I want to know.
    If Apple has been so great, then who is it who has not been so great? Why is the NFB not calling these companies on the carpet; starting with the worst offender? (that has to be somebody).
    It's just like Greenpeace. Take the company who is doing the most and the best, and then see if you can find which little thing they are not doing, and then publicly flog them for it.

    You know what, Riccobono; just shut up about Apple altogether! Apple actually doesn't need your defense. Just go after (publicly) those companies who are actually not rising to the standards that Apple has set. That way you will actually be doing something for your constituents.

    This is what riled me when I read the original Reuters article. I was flabbergasted as to hy the NSFB would strike out at Apple to do even more when other competing companies are doing much less thn Apple.

    To learn that Reuters intentionally lied about the true facts annoys the hell out of me. If the publication intended for me to fall in line with its reporting it was mistaken. I was agry at the NSFB not at Apple. It is disheartening that I must ask about the agenda of an article written about Apple's activities.
  • Reply 13 of 40
    As a registered-blind Apple user, I am grateful for the tools Apple offers.

    I also listen to a lot of audio books and was surprised to find one a few weeks ago created using Apple's text-to-voice application and given away free. I wish more authors would do this.

    The voice wasn't perfect, but the story was so well written that it was easy enough for me to follow it. I even laughed and cried because of the humour and emotion, even with the voice being fairly monotone.

    Here is the link for anyone who is interested.

    http://briarkitesme.com/2014/04/17/hanson-drake-free-audio-book-from-briarkitesme/
  • Reply 14 of 40
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    ... "provocative and poorly reported article" on the subject released by Reuters.

     

    "Provocative" is the name of the game in online news reporting.  It's all about the clicks.

    Web traffic is everything.  And a provocative title is just about the best way to get web traffic.

    And you're going to need to do some A/B testing to find the best possible wording.

    But we all knew that already.  Right?

     

    "Poorly reported articles" are just a byproduct of the overriding need to generate web traffic.

    Because you need to follow up on that provocative title with something, anything.

    But no, it doesn't need to be Woodward and Bernstein quality.  This is the public we're talking about here.

  • Reply 15 of 40
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,428member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MacHiavelli92 View Post



    As a registered-blind Apple user, I am grateful for the tools Apple offers.



    I also listen to a lot of audio books and was surprised to find one a few weeks ago created using Apple's text-to-voice application and given away free. I wish more authors would do this.



    The voice wasn't perfect, but the story was so well written that it was easy enough for me to follow it. I even laughed and cried because of the humour and emotion, even with the voice being fairly monotone.



    Here is the link for anyone who is interested.



    http://briarkitesme.com/2014/04/17/hanson-drake-free-audio-book-from-briarkitesme/

     

    Excuse my ignorance, but I'm just curious. How are you reading this reply to you?

     

    Is it being read aloud to you as audio?

     

    And how did you type your post? Do you use voice to text? I'm not blind, but I find that voice to text works remarkably well, as long as the person speaking does not have any strange accent.

  • Reply 16 of 40
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member

    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

    ... For one many small time developers do not have the resources to support the blind and frankly many apps simply aren't making the big bucks to even stay on App Store. ...

     

    Well, actually, I don't think it's all that hard to make your app friendly to blind users.  You need to make sure that your UI has text titles on all buttons.  Then you make sure all text in your UI can be scaled up to larger sizes without getting garbled.  Then you need to make sure your app works with VoiceOver.  All of that shouldn't take one developer more than a few hours, depending on how many scenes the app has and how complex the UI is.  And that work should make it possible for blind and low-vision users can use your app.

     

    I saw a group of blind and low-vision users with iPhones last year.  It was fascinating.  They were able to launch apps, select items from the UI, change system settings, and do nearly everything that a sighted user could do with an iPhone and non-visually-intensive apps.  But yes, it took far longer than just looking and tapping, and it was a little noisy.  (But that was OK since it was at a bustling Peet's Coffee and Tea shop.)

  • Reply 17 of 40

    Funny, funny.

  • Reply 18 of 40
    bobschlobbobschlob Posts: 1,074member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Kibitzer View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post



    "Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards (including our annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award) and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises."



    So here's what I want to know.

    If Apple has been so great, then who is it who has not been so great? Why is the NFB not calling these companies on the carpet; starting with the worst offender? (that has to be somebody).

    It's just like Greenpeace. Take the company who is doing the most and the best, and then see if you can find which little thing they are not doing, and then publicly flog them for it.



    You know what, Riccobono; just shut up about Apple altogether! Apple actually doesn't need your defense. Just go after (publicly) those companies who are actually not rising to the standards that Apple has set. That way you will actually be doing something for your constituents.




    So you would rather publicly shame the laggards rather than gain their cooperation to catch up to the example set by Apple? Sadly, your comment speaks more about you than it does about accessibility.

    Oh, I see. But in your opinion, publicly shaming Apple, as has been the case (even though Apple does more for the environment, and for the blind and the deaf than any others in the same field), is fine.

    If anybody is to be shamed, of course it is (what you call) "the laggards". I personally call them "the selfish"; "the careless"; maybe "the discriminatory".

    Your pathetic little "1950s motherly shame platitude" says a lot more about you than it does about me.

    Now go in the corner and think long and hard about what you've learned!

  • Reply 19 of 40
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,988member
    The "if you are successful you must be evil" sickness that has infected media outlets has gone too far. For the life of me I can't figure out what they hope to accomplish by destroying their credibility and burning their integrity. Are more page hits really worth it? Maybe they should try to do something, anything no matter how small, good for the world instead of polluting the world with their self serving, small minded, and biased media spew.
  • Reply 20 of 40
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,836member

    Sloppy reporting... it's not just for bloggers.™

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