Developers: If you're updating your app for iOS 7, please take a moment to consider accessibility

If you're updating your app for iOS 7, please take a moment to consider accessibility

A lot of developers will either be updating their apps to fit the new look and feel of iOS 7, or launching entirely new apps to coincide with its release. While that's no doubt going to be a stressful, exhausting process all on it's own, it's also a landmark that seems like the perfect time to consider either adding or improving accessibility features as well.

Apple offers an incredibly robust set of accessibility features for developers who have the time and will to implement them, and it can make an incredible difference to people with visual, auditory, motor skill, or other challenges. It can not only make your app usable by them, but it can help make their lives better. WWDC videos highlight accessibility for a reason. It matters.

Noted accessibility expert Doug Russell spent some time with us on Iterate explaining how accessibility can be added to virtually any app, and sharing some resources for doing it. He was later tapped to handle accessibility for Vesper, which included it in version 1.0.

Give the show a listen - or a read - and then look over your iOS 7 plans and, if you're not already, see if you can fit accessibility into your release schedule. So many people will be glad you do,

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Developers: If you're updating your app for iOS 7, please take a moment to consider accessibility


After listening to all the WWDC sessions on accessibility for the past several years, I have come to the conclusion that they are going about it the wrong way. All of Apple's efforts center around modifying existing apps to add things like speaking buttons. I found it annoying to listen to for just a few seconds at a time during the sessions. If I was blind and had to use it all the time I think I would go crazy. Sure it is better than not being able to use the app at all but there has to be a better way.

Instead of getting developers to design apps for people that are blind or deaf, why not design apps for everyone that wants to use an iPhone or iPad when they can't look at the screen or hear what is going on? In iOS 7, you can make the text any size you want. That's a superb accessibility feature because it helps everyone not just those with limited vision. Let me really use my iPad in while I am driving and can't take my eyes off the screen. For example, use Siri to set the screen brightness or adjust settings when you get home or to work. "Siri, turn off all audio when I am in a movie theater." Currently as far as I know there is no way to link features of your app to Siri beyond simple speech text entry. The same goes for sound output. When I am in a location (like that movie theater) and get some kind of notification, the iPhone should know to present it differently such as with a vibration rather than a loud audio alert.

So Apple, please stop beating us up over shoehorning accessibility into our existing apps and start giving us real tools to make apps available to anyone that can't see the screen or hear the speaker for any reason.