Learning about the iPhone and its apps is easy. Besides the Apple site and the iTunes store, there are many dedicated blogs and web sites. Interesting iPhone news makes it onto general tech and news sites. But there is little about the iPhone’s accessibility to the blind and visually impaired. Apple offers its view on iPhone accessibility, but Apple’s site looks to reflect its marketing campaign more than the engineering and design.
Being legally blind, I have relied on iPods for many years to bring me my audiobooks. When my last iPod nano passed away, I took a look at the Touch. I have functional vision, so its larger screen and broader feature set attracted me. For better or worse, this came before Apple’s release of the 4th generation nano and its increased accessibility. So, I now have a Touch. I really like the device, but have noticed that many apps are unnecessarily hard or impossible for me to use. Some apps, by their very nature, many not be accessible, but there are several simple things that Apple and its developer community could do to improve the iPhone platform’s overall ease of use. While universal access is the long term goal, these simple steps are meant to improve access in a more limited way, to those of us who still have some functional vision. I have laid out these guidelines in detail in this post, Accessing iPhone Apps:
- Landscape Mode: Wide is often more accessible than tall.
- Multitouch Zoom: Easy magnification makes everything easier to read.
- Scalable Fonts: Tiny fonts are hard to read.
- High Contrast Color Scheme: Light-on-dark reduces eye strain.
With an accessibility perspective missing from the iPhone community, I have been blogging extensively on the issue. This page is meant to be a reference point that brings together all of my posts on iPhone access.
General Thoughts on iPhone Accessibility
- Accessing iPhone Apps: Detailed guidelines for making iPhone apps accessible. The four main accessibility features are : zoom, landscape mode, scalable fonts and a high contrast color scheme.
- iPhone App Accessibility: Quixotic Quest?: Here the conclusions from consulting the forums at Ars Technica. The comments suggests four main strategies; lobby Apple to enable accessibility features by default, push Apple to publish accessibility guidelines as pat of the developer documentation, encourage individual app developers with suggestions tailored to their specific app and develop a community of iPhone accessibility activists.
- iPhone 3.0 Accessibility Preview: Apple previewed the upcoming summer release of the next iteration of its iPhone platform today. A small portion of these features have been documented on the web at the iPhone OS 3.0 Preview.How will iPhone OS 3.0 affect iPhone accessibility? To be honest, it is way too soon to say. Apple’s show today highlighted only…
- iPhone Accessibility: An Open Letter to Steve Jobs & Apple: 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 …
- Accessing the iPhone: How Apple could make the iPhone more accessible.
- Lobbying iPhone Developers for More Accessibility: It has been pointed out to me that an effort to convince the iPhone developer community to embrace accessible design may have more fruitful approaches. …
- Burgeoning Market for Intermediate Accessibility: I strongly believe that there is a burgeoning market for what might be called intermediate accessibility in product design.
- iPhone Easy Access Mode: An App Idea: Notes from a small field posted a neat idea for iPhone accessibility a couple of years back. He proposes an accessibility mode, where the iPhone (or any touch screen device) engages a very simple interface for the disabled. A while ago, I posted about a similar concept for the desktop computer, but that has not achieved any traction either. The basic… »
- Accessing the Touch: An early foray into reviewing iPhone access.
- New iPhone 3G S, More Accessibility: Some thoughts on the next generation of iPhones.
iPhone Accessibility Developer Interviews
- The Accessible iPhone App Developer (BigNames): Recently I wrote about the first accessible iPhone app. BigNames, a large print, high contrast contacts directory app, is due for a review upon its upcoming update release, when it will be available for the Touch. I asked the developer, Jason Moore, to share a little about himself and developing accessible apps fro the iPhone. Jason has… »
iPhone Accessibility Tips
- Accessing Audiobook Speed on iPhone 3.0: iPhone 3.0 has an updated ‘scrubber‘.
- iPhone Tap Dance: Just Tap (Twice) to Zoom: A nifty trick for easy zooming on the iPhone from the NY Times.
- Variable Speed Playback on the iPhone: Speeding up a recording used to make it sound like Alvin & the Chipmunks. Growing up, I had a cassette player for the blind that had a variable speed playback control. Being a kid, I used it mainly for entertainment value. Fun was had with friends making the narrators sound silly. Slide the bar… »
- The Widescreen Edition: Why wide is more accessible than tall.
Accessibility Reviews of iPhone Apps
- Reading Apps
- Accessing your Kindle on the iPhone: Spotted today on Slashdot, Amazon Releases iPhone Kindle Software. “The Amazon Kindle 2 just started shipping last week, but Amazon surprised everyone late on March 3rd …
- Stanza – Accessible E-Book Reader for the iPhone:My first accessibility review. Stanza is a very versatile e-book reader with lots of accessibility features. The only thing it lacks is content.
- Accessible e-Reading: Google Books: A reveiw of Google Mobile Book Search on the iPhone. While not as good as Stanza, it is not befeft of accessibility.
- News Apps
- Accessing the NY Times, iPhone Edition: Being an avid news junkie and a fan of the New York Times, it was inevitable that I find the NTimes iPhone app. I found the app a while ago and have been drafting a review. From an accessibility point of view the app had little going for it. Since it was slow to load…
- Accessing Public Radio on an iPhone Tuner: Hi. My name us Tim and I am an addict. Addicted to public radio, that is. The alarm clock radio, the shower radio, the kitchen radio, the car radio. Even iTunes. Now the iPod Touch. The Public Radio Exchange has released a fee iPhone app, Public Radio Tuner, that finds and public radio streams.
- No Access to the NPR iPhone App: Great app for accessing NPR on hte iPhone. NPR Mobile lacks most accessibility features in its first version.
- Feeds on the Go: Accessing Google Reader on the iPhone: To keep track of all the blogs I like to follow, I use Google Reader. It has a nice clean interface and works in any browser from anywhere. So, I naturally wanted to check this out for the iPhone. Like most of Google’s online applications, access to Google Reader is through its mobile web site on the iPhone’s built-in browser… »
- Social Media Apps
- Accessing Twitter from the iPhone: Comparing the accessibility of TwitterFon, Twitterific and the Twitter mobile web site on the iPhone.
- Access Facebook on the iPhone: Facebook, despite its ubiquity, has naver been very accessible. The pages are densely cluttered with an overload of information. Since the company is not doing much about it, there is now a Facebook Accessibility project going on at the volunteer developer group, Project Possibility. But I digress. Facebook has developed a free app, Facebook for iPhone,… »
- Accessing Google Talk on the iPhone: Google’s iPhone app brings most of Google’s many applications under one roof. It refers most features to that application’s mobile web site. Google Talk is one of these applications. Since my wife and I are one of those couples that instant message each from one room to the other, I wanted to test this out on my iPod Touch.”… »
- More on Accessing Twitter from the iPhone: Updated Twitteriffic Review: An updated (and corrected) review of the Twitteriffic app for the iPhone.
- Note and E-Mail Apps
- WriteRoom: The WriteRoom App is one of the most accessible and versatile apps for writing on the iPhone. Full screen and wide screen modes as well as alternate color schemes and scalable fonts make this a top choice.
- Giant Fonts for iPhone Mail: The iPhone Mail app offers an adjustable minimum font size. It is not obvious how to access this setting. Apple buried this feature in the Settings app and can not be accessed from the Mail app itself. From the home screen, tap on the Settings app. Then tap on the Mail, Contacts & Calendars tab…
- Accessing Easy E-Mail Free: iPhone App Accessibility Review: Easy Email Free is another iPhone Mail substitute. This app offers font control and landscape mode.
- Accessing EasyWriter: iPhone App Accessibility Review: EasyWriter is a substitute for the iPhone Mail app. EasyWriter offers landscape mode.
- Accessing Fliq Notes: Fliq Notes is a nifty and accessible note taking, organizing and sharing app.
- Accessing WritePad: WritePad is a handwriting recognition engine for the iPhone from Phatware. WritePad is the free basic app that powers Phatware’s more functional suite of apps, WritePad Affairs, WritePad Events and WritePad Notes. WritePad Supports iPhone and iPod Touch 2.0 or later WritePad is a new custom editor for iPhone that utilizes handwriting recognition input… »
- Miscellaneous Apps
- iPhone Full Browser: On every digital device, some piece of the screen is almost always lost to toolbars. This app goes full screen, adding up to 40% more screen space.
- Another iPhone Full Screen Browser: On every digital device, some piece of the screen is almost always lost to toolbars. Windows has its Task Bar. Each individual software has its title bar up top, usually following by the main menu bar.
- Dialing by Ear on the iPhone: Fred’s Head blog just posted about Sight-Free Dialing with the iPhone. This caught my attention and brought me to the iHear Dialer app from KayZee Solutions. This is a great new accessibility app for the iPhone. iHear Dialer allows you to dial phone numbers without looking at the keypad. As you move your hand around on the keypad, the dialer… »
- BigNames: The First Accessible iPhone App.: There is hope! A few days ago, an email popped into my inbox about a new iPhone App. BigNames has been developed with accessibility in mind. This is a first. BigNames is a contact app for the iPhone. “BigNames displays your iPhone contacts extra-large and easy to read. Perfect for when you’re on the move and …
- Blogging on the Go: The iPhone WordPress app lacks all of the important accessibility features. Fortunately, it is only in an early version with landscape mode expected in the next iteration.
- Accessing Wikipedia on the iPhone: Wikipanion Accessiility: Wikipanion is a feature-rich access point Wikipedia on the iPhone. it has an intelligent, well thought out interface.
- Accessing iPhone Maps: Accessibility of the iPhone Maps App: Google Maps is a great thing. There is no question about it. But it is not perfect. Surprisingly, it suffers from the same gripe I …
- Weather Access on the iPhone: Call me crazy. I carry my own meteorologist around in my pocket. I check the temperature, outdoor conditions and the forecast several times a day. I guess I am crazy. But the iPhone’s Weather App is a great personal meteorologist. Well designed,, it lays out lots of information in… »
- Accessing the Eyechart App: iPhone Eyechart App Every so often, I browse iPhone’s app store looking for programs that are useful, interesting and, best of all, free. Very occasionally, I …
- iPhone as Accessible Pocket Watch: An easy to ready digital clock app for the iPhone.
- Accessing iPhone Time: The Digital Clock App: Free Digital Clock is a nifty little app for the iPhone. It turns the iPhone into a bedside digital alarm clock. Colors are customizable and the app swivels smoothly from portrait to landscape mode. From its web site, Rock iPhone: A free version of the favorate… »
- Coming soon: Facebook, LinkedIn, ShapeWriter, Wikipedia, and more.
iPhone Hardware Accessibility
- Expensive Access for the iPhone: Carl Zeiss’ video headset, the Cinemizer Plus, has received the go-ahead from Apple for release as an iPhone accessory. This could be the most expensive accessible accessory for the iPhone yet (or ever). According to the web site, the Cinemizer Plus’ “image is optically tuned to appear as virtual 45-inch (diagonal) screen, as viewed [...]
Miscellaneous iPhone News
- Voice Terminal Service on Today’s NYT Tech Talk: : Today’ NYT Tech Talk podcast from the New York Times features two accessibility pieces. The first accessibility segment featues Audiopoint Voice Terminal Service, a phone-basd web interface. The second segment discusses iPhone voice dialers.
- iPhone Touch? An Accessible Case for the iPhone: Discussion of an innovative iPhone case design.
- Will it Kill the Kindle?: Shortcovers will be an app for mobile devices, including the iPhone, that turns your device into an e-book reader.
- iPhone May Feature Voice Control and Feedback: As spotted on MacWord’s iPhone Central, Ars Technica is reporting that iPhone OS 3.0 to feature voice control and feedback. Various voice-related features, under the codename “Jibbler,” have been discovered in the version of SpringBoard set to ship with the next update to Apple’s mobile operating system. …. Not much information is known at this time, but according to our own people familiar… »
- New Mobile Accessibility Web Site: The Mobile Manufacturers Forum has a new web site devoted to Mobile Accessibility.
So far, the most important thing I have leaned is that I can not make the iPhone platform accessible alone. If you find this worth some time, please help.If you find this post useful or interesting, please consider buying me a cup of coffee.