WWDC 2018's most important message comes from scholarship winner John Ciocca

John Ciocca is a 2018 graduate of Estero High School in Florida and a WWDC 2018 student scholarship winner. He wrote this about the apps he makes, which include youBelong and MyVoice, an Edison Award Winner, and why he makes them. We loved his insight and perspective, including his views on accessibility and inclusivity, so much, we just had to share it.

Here it is, is John's own words.


Soon the curtain rises on the biggest developer event in the world. App Store is turning 10 and app development has become an industry capable of transforming lives like no other before it. As the top tech minds gather in San Jose for WWDC this week, it is a great opportunity for the developer community to consider the true purpose and passion behind our work.

For me, it's about making apps more inclusive.

My brother Christian, who was born with Down syndrome, had limitations with communication at an early age. Now that we are grown, I have seen the need for assistive technologies for those with disabilities. Christian and many others have adapted to the emergence of mobile technology and the apps that come along with it, but the experience isn't always perfect.

Christian has inspired me to change my focus as a developer to build apps that are level the playing field and empower users with differing abilities.

The process of opening my app or any other app and then using it for its intended purpose should be the same for any and every user - No exceptions. The experience for people with disabilities should be one without barriers in which they can achieve their goals just like everyone else.

With Apple's development tools and technologies, it has never been easier for developers to add basic accessibility functionality such as support for VoiceOver and Dynamic Type.

Technology is most powerful when it empowers everyone.

We have reached a time where mobile apps have become an extension of ourselves and our lives. Developers need to realize that accessibility shouldn't be a feature. It is a requirement. Accessibility is an essential aspect of the development process that needs to be addressed by developers and designers before shipping a product. Accessibility should be recognized as a requirement early on in the development process. What may seem like additional work upfront is, in the end, beneficial to both the developers and their users. An app that is accessible has the potential to reach a substantially larger audience. Those users who are typically left out now have the ability to achieve more and will remember that your app enabled them to do so.

Apps that are inclusive deliver upon an important mission, and that mission is to make a difference by empowering every user. It is our job as developers to integrate accessibility into our projects, because technology is most powerful when it empowers everyone.

You can follow John on Twitter @JohnCiocca