iOS Accessibility

With the release of iOS 7, Apple has added many new accessibility features that make an iPhone and iPad easier to use for people with disabilities. This post summarizes the new iOS 7 accessibility features for people with visual, hearing, mobility and learning disabilities.

In research conducted by the University of Kansas, preschoolers with autism will use an iPad voice output app with their classmates. This will help determine whether the technology can improve deficits in communication, social reciprocity and play skills typical for children on the autism spectrum. Read more about the app for autism.

Wireless CapTel by Sprint powered by Raketu is now available for all iOS powered devices. Wireless CapTel by Sprint gives real-time word-for-word captions of phone conversations. Now persons with hearing disabilities can read captions of conversations on the phone’s display when the call is connected to the CapTel service. Watch the YouTube Wireless CapTel video here.

I was interviewing the owner of a large web design firm on my radio show, Seacoast Business Connections and the topic of accessibility came up. As my guest was explaining to me that his firm makes a point of designing with accessibility in mind even if the client is not concerned with it, his twin boys, both of whom were born with cerebral palsy (CP), played in the lobby just on the other side of the studio’s large glass window.

Barnes & Noble has been slow when it comes to the accessibility of its e-book platforms, but it has definitely made an effort with the latest release, version 3.3, of the NOOK application. Although the NOOK tablet device is still inaccessible to people with vision loss, the accessibility improvements in this application are worth an investigation.   The free NOOK application works with the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

The AFB article provides a description of how to use the app with information included about the accessibility of the various features and functions of the app.  Read the full article, A Guide to the Barnes & Noble NOOK App: Another Accessible Option for Reading Books on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad.

Adobe Edge Inspect has been around for a while but the latest accessibility upgrades will be a breath of fresh air for accessibility professionals.  Adobe, as a provider of developer tools, recognizes that accessibility is not a concept that just opens doors for users with disabilities. Accessibility is actually a concept which improves the user experience for everyone.  At Adobe this includes the development experience for developers and testers.

This is the first in a series of blog posts about mobile accessibility testing for mobile phones and tablets.

When testing for mobile accessibility use the devices and OS that will be supported by the website or application and that have decent accessibility support. Most of the time, this is includes iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android (phones mostly, and some tablets) which are the most common mobile devices used today in the United States.

Enhanced Siri also expands to iPod Touch - Apple’s introduction of the slimmed down, faster iPhone 5 includes the expansion of Siri to the iPod Touch. Siri, the digital assistant available on iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and now iPod Touch, provides additional accessibility by performing a variety of tasks without the need for eyes or hands. Additionally as Newsday writes in their article about the iPhone 5, “Apple also enhanced the speech-command service Siri, adding features that let users search for sports scores and make dinner reservations by speaking to the smartphone.”

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