This is Audio Pizza’s open letter to Tim Cook podcast where we discuss the accessibility issues of MacOS, iOS, and the Apple Watch, and ask Tim to listen and react to the unique problems faced by the VoiceOver community.
Thank you, as a company, for realy being a pioneer in accessibility, but we would like you to bump it up a notch and make quality a high priority for the accessibility team.
So we had four issues we wanted you to take a look at under the mac. First, there’s the HTML5 rendering engine that we demonstrated in the MacOS app store where the navigation flow is completely broken, which is as if your mouse just jumped randomly all over the screen instead of where you moved it. Second, there is the responsiveness of the action item with the VO-spacebar to trigger buttons, which is as if your mouse button only worked some of the time.. Third, there’s the audio ducking where we loose the VO text to speech volume , which is as if your screen brightness just randomly went dim all day long. And fourth there is the drag and drop / finder issue
where VO is reporting the wrong item under the VO cursor, which is as if your selection in the finder was the item next to the one you wanted.
Taken individually these bugs are serious. Taken together as a whole, they are critical. They have a direct impact on our productivity. We need these fixed. Please, Tim, make it so.
Under iOS we think you are doing a great job with accessibility. But some of the hardware choices you are making affect us more than you may think. There are bluetooth issues where we cannot control VoiceOver reliably with our keyboards. The lack of a headphone jack and the lag we see with your wireless solution fails us.. It’s as if every key you type takes seconds to appear on the screen.
It affects our productivity to the point of making the device unusable. Please try this yourself, it’s easy to understand once you experience it. And finally under iOS consider taking the next step to being an advocate for accessibility. Require your developers to do the bare minimum to their apps if they want to be in the app store by requiring them to use Xcode’s accessibility tools to remove all warnings and properly label standard UI controls. It’s a small price to pay and it makes Apple look really really good as a leader of universal access. Not to mention, quality of the apps in the app store will improve as you educate developers. Since you will happily kill 32- bit apps, how about killing the poorly coded non-accessible apps as well.
And with WatchOS, we are just looking for improvements over time. We thank you for making nit accessible out of the box. We look forward to its future as improvements with both tactical feedback and text to speech evolve. We are very excited about the direction you are taking the Apple Watch.
We respect Apple as a company; we respect you as a person. You are both leaders in universal access and accessibility. We hope you listen to this podcast and reflect upon the management and design decisions you make and how they impact all your users.
Thank you Tim, and I’ll be happy to demonstrate that walking chocolate tour using voiceover for you anytime.
Scott, Shaun and Garth