15+ reasons Apple is best for accessibility

Apple does more to ensure its solutions are accessible to a wide range of users than any other platform, in spite of any drivel suggesting otherwise.

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Look at the evidence

You may have read the selective fantasy peddled as fact by Christina Farr, which claimed blind and deaf users want Apple to do more to make its systems accessible. Her inherent bias was clearly confirmed when those advocates also said Google has done far less to make Android devices accessible.

Contrast Apple's success with Chris Hofstader's review of Nexus 7's claimed accessibility features: "Google insults the community of people with print impairments by claiming that this device is accessible," he wrote.

Apple engineers "go to extraordinary lengths to make our products accessible to people with various disabilities from blindness and deafness to various muscular disorders," said Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Coming soon

iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will be even more accessible, with:

  • Speak Screen: read what's on the screen using gesture or Siri
  • Improved zoom
  • Support for hearing aids from companies including ReSound
  • A new system-wide Braille keyboard
  • An Accessibility API for developers to make apps more accessible
  • An Accessibility Inspector to review UI elements

Recognition

Apple was among the first tech firms to recognize the need to make its solutions accessible and began introducing features to meet this need in the original Macintosh.

VoiceOver

Introduced with OS X Tiger, VoiceOver was a critical moment for accessibility in IT -- what Apple now offered for free within the OS, users with disability had previously needed to pay hundreds of dollars to acquire.

Control your Mac -- by voice

You can control your Mac using speech. Here's how it's done.

Braille

Apple introduced braille display support in OS X way back in 2008. This sends information about what is displayed on screen to the Braille display.

Text editing

Apple's accessibility features mean users can control the cursor, select text and engage in editing functions including cut, copy and paste on its platforms.

Guided Access

Apple's parentally controlled Guided Access technology exists to help users remain focused on a single app. This is of particular relevance for autistic users.

Closed Captioning

Both OS X and iOS support captioning and subtitles in multimedia content.

Mono Audio

If you suffer hearing loss in one ear you can lose important audio elements when listening in stereo -- so Apple includes a mono audio setting.

Facetime

Facetime enables people with hearing or speech difficulties to communicate non-verbally using sign language and facial expression.

Alerts

Most people are used to hearing the phone ring. If you can't, Apple provides vibrating alerts and enables users to set the LED flash to illuminate when calls come in.

Assistive Touch

If you have difficulties with some gestures (such as pinch), you can make them accessible using a more comfortable gesture -- even shake and rotate can be accessed in this way.

Much more

Inverted colors, cursor size controls, Screen Flash, Slow and Sticky Keys, Speakable Items, Mouse Keys, Onscreen keyboard, Simple Finder, Larger Dynamic Type… there are literally dozens of options to help make Apple's platforms more accessible to any user, for no additional charge.

More than anyone

Apple's contribution to assistive tech means, "Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date," said NFB President, Mark A Riccobono.

Important increments

Apple's intrinsic commitment to accessibility changes lives, as noted in this 2010 post. No one else offers so many accessibility features within the OS. And while Apple can (and will) do better, it remains the best platform for anyone with accessibility needs.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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