iOS Accessibility

Seeing Assistant is developed by Transition Technologies S.A., available on iOS and consists of a number of applications that are customized for people who are blind or have low vision. The Seeing Assistant applications help users who are blind or have low vision navigate through a city, recognized colors, detect light, read barcodes and enlarge images.

The Seeing Assistant modules boast an intuitive menu and are optimized to work effectively with VoiceOver and use voice control function in the application services and for entering text.

  • Seeing Assistant Move gives pedestrians information about their present location, helps them navigate to a chosen destination, plan the route and record the trace.
  • Seeing Assistant Home helps with everyday domestic tasks with color recognition, light detection, magnifying glass and recognition and generation of bar or QR codes.
  • Seeing Assistant Light detects light sources and generates a sound which changes pitch relative to the intensity of the light.
  • Seeing Assistant Magnifier magnifies small print and objects. In addition, it can change lighting contrast and colors.

At the National Federation of the Blind National Convention on July 1-6 Vital Source Technologies, an Ingram Content Group’s leading e-textbook solutions, showcased new features to its already comprehensive accessibility support for the VitalSource Bookshelf platform.

Vital Source Technologies works to continually support industry standards for accessibility through conformance testing on all bookshelf platforms.  They test offline on Windows and Macs, online on Windows and Macs using standard browsers (IE, Firefox, Safari), and on mobile devices for iOS and Android. All Bookshelf platforms are evaluated using screen readers such as JAWS and NVDA for Windows, VoiceOver for Mac and IOS, and TalkBack for Android.

Vital Source collaborates with accessibility consultants, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to insure the platform is tested in conformance with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In addition to the client updates being released, Vital Source will provide an updated and independently-reviewed Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT) for each of the platforms. The Android, iOS, Browser, Macintosh and Windows VPAT’s are available for download.

Read more on VPAT’s and Accessibility Certification.

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While other mobile platforms are making strides in accessibility, iOS has always been a clear leader. Given the buzz from this year’s annual developer conference, iOS 8 will deliver again. Some of the major accessibility features discussed were:

TabAccess from Zyrobotics is the first assistive device of its type to allow easier access to Android and iOS tablet devices. It allows people with challenges moving their hands and arms.

“Unfortunately, most applications for smartphones and tablets are not designed with accessibility in mind, especially for people with motor disabilities,” explains Dr. Ayanna Howard, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Zyrobotics. “Our strategic launch of TabAccess is both a technology game changer and life changer for so many.”

TabAccess provides access through multiple accessible devices such as sip/puff, button switches and grasp switches.

Learn more about mobile accessibility with Kathy Wahlbin’s Mobile Accessibility on the Move Slides.

Even though WCAG 2.0 was written before smartphones put mobile accessibility in the public eye, WCAG 2.0 was written to be forward-thinking and has proved to be so.

A new hardware and software bundle from Revel Systems provides features for people with vision disabilities. iPad touchscreens don’t naturally have tactile qualities making them difficult to be used independently and effectively by people with vision disabilities.

Revel’s new accessibility bundle allows people with vision disabilities to securely enter their debit card pin numbers or use signature screens when checking out. It uses Bluetooth enabled keyboards with textured keys to provide the necessary tactile sensitivity for people with vision disabilities to privately enter the information.

The Apps For All Challenge 2014 is a competition to find Australia’s most accessible apps. It has been launched by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network and the Australian Human Rights Commission. This is Australia’s first competition for accessible mobile apps. The aim is to raise awareness of issues people with disabilities and aging Australians face with apps that are not accessible.

Awards for the best mobile apps will be given in the following categories:

  1. Most accessible mainstream app
  2. Most innovative app designed for people with disabilities or older Australians
  3. Most accessible children’s app
  4. Most accessible gaming app

Nomination will close on Monday July 14th 2014. Winners will be announced at the ACCAN National Conference in September 2014.

The recent iOS 7.1 updates includes some updates to the accessibility features. Some of the Accessibility highlights include:

  • Keyboard, calculator and many icon glyphs are now included in the bold font option.
  • Reduce Motion now includes Weather, Messages, and multitasking UI animations.
  • New options to display button shapes, darken app colors, and reduce white point.
  • New wallpapers which low-vision users may find make it easier to see text and images. They are available in a selection of solid colors with a polka dot pattern.
  • New option turns on "Button Shapes". This is intended to make buttons easier to distinguish from other text on the screen (such as icon labels).

Although not tagged as part of accessibility, an update to Siri could have some positive implication for users with disabilities.

  • Manually control when Siri listens by holding down the home button while you speak and releasing it when you’re done as an alternative to letting Siri automatically notice when you stop talking.

More information on the iOS 7.1 updates and for more updates see

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on mobile devices for productivity in their work and personal lives, it is increasingly important that we look at the accessibility of the device itself as well as how publicly available digital content works with mobile accessibility features. At this year’s ATIA Conference in Orlando Florida Kathy Wahlbin, CEO and Founder of Interactive Accessibility, tackles this subject in her iOS Accessibility Workshop.

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