Accessibility is about making apps and interfaces that are usable by everyone.
Apple is one of the few, if only, tech companies that routinely puts accessibility front and center on both its keynotes and its feature sets. Just this week, Apple received the Helen Keller Award for VoiceOver, a technology that provides an audio interface layer for those with visual impairments. Yet VoiceOver is only one part of a far more well-rounded, far reaching campaign to help raise awareness for something that, frankly, benefits us all.
Steven Aquino attended WWDC 2015 and paid special attention to the accessibility sessions. He wrote up his impressions for TechCrunch:
Sessions are helmed by a member of the respective platform's Accessibility team. There are dedicated sessions for iOS, OS X, and new for 2015, Watch OS. In broad strokes, the accessibility sessions are about best practices for supporting accessibility. The presenter focuses on an attribute of Accessibility like, say, VoiceOver, and demonstrate how to properly integrate it into an app, making it work with labels and images. Troubleshooting techniques and tips and tricks are also discussed.
The technical aspects of the sessions related to coding went largely over my head, but I did learn a few things that I didn't know before. For instance, some UI mechanics of Apple Watch related to the digital crown and the Zoom feature, where a user can turn the crown to move line by line when reading text with Zoom turned on.
(You can find a lot more of Steven's writings on accessibility right here at iMore.)
To coincide with the Helen Keller award, the App Store highlighted some of the best VoiceOver apps for iOS.
Craig Hockenberry of Twitterrific fame wrote about the work his company has been doing to implement accessibility. From the Iconfactory blog:
Over the years, we've learned that it's essential to have folks with impaired vision as beta testers. It's very easy for a developer with good eyesight to make bad accessibility choices. A beta tester who uses VoiceOver all day long will tell you immediately about a screw up.
Apple remains committed to making their products accessible. Smart developers will follow their lead.
I first became aware of the need to bring more attention to accessibility when Dave Wiskus suggested we do a podcast on its importance. It was enlightening and humbling to say the least. In his latest video, Dave continues to try and raise awareness and stress how critical it is to make apps accessible.
If you're not familiar with accessibility, take a few minutes and check it out. You'll almost certainly find something that makes your experience, or the experience of someone you care about, better.