An Open Letter to Steve Jobs and the iPhone Development Team
Over the last few months, I have dedicated much of my time and blog to thoughts and reviews of the accessibility of the iPhone platform for the visually impaired. Since I am partially sighted with some functional vision, I have been focused on simple, easily-implementable features that would improve the iPhone’s ease of use for users with less than perfect vision rather than for the profoundly blind. Building on the multitouch zoom, landscape mode and the iPhone’s good color screen, I have set out some guidelines for iPhone developers. Additionally, I have begun a series of app reviews based on an accessibility perspective. I now have a single web page bringing together all of these posts: http://www.timobrienphotos.com/large-print-ideas/iphone-accessiphone-access/.
I know that you have had some contact with the American Federation of the Blind on making the iPhone more accessible. I do not know the outcome of these discussions, but I know the AFB’s focus on providing universal accessibility. I am not addressing that here. Rather, I am focusing on access for the visually impaired more than for the more profoundly blind. With the aging of the baby boomers and the fading of their eyesight, this market will only blossom exponentially. The iPhone is already popular among younger users. This type of accessibility that I am addressing here will help Apple tap into the older market, the market wearing reading glasses.
Not being a programmer myself, I felt that I needed to consult some developers to ensure I am not asking for the impossible. The forum participants at Ars Technica have been more that helpful; sharing ideas, support and insights. As you can read in the discussion here http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/8300945231/m/189009737931, the consensus is the Apple is key to making the iPhone more accessible. By providing good accessibility documentation and enabling key accessibility features (zoom and landscape mode) by default, Apple could go a long way in a few short steps.
I hope that you can look at my suggestions and consider both implementing them in future iPhone software and recommending all app developers use these design principles in writing their programs. Please visit my iPhone Access page (http://www.timobrienphotos.com/large-print-ideas/iphone-access/) and help me make the iPhone a little more accessible. Please.
If I can be of any assistance, let me know.
Timothy O’BrienIf you find this post useful or interesting, please consider buying me a cup of coffee.