As a low-vision user of iOS devices (iPhone and iPad), I use Accessibility features quite extensively. The two most often used features in this category are VoiceOver and Zoom.
I use VoiceOver most frequently for tasks such as
- Reading Mail Message headers
- Reading Twitter Timeline messages
- Selecting on-screen controls to determine button functions within an app
- Reading on-screen text without needing to zoom in
These four workflow items are indispensable to me. The frustration is that VoiceOver function is not consistent from one app to another. For example, in iBooks, I can read the text of a book using VoiceOver, but I can’t perform the same function in the Amazon Kindle app. When I tap the screen in the Kindle app, all I get is a sound effect telling me I tapped the screen. Not much help at all.
The same can be said for other iOS apps. In social networking, the Twitter app supports VoiceOver, but other Twitter client apps do not.
It would be greatly appreciated if VoiceOver worked consistently across the iOS experience instead of the “hit or miss” patchwork that a currently exists. This sketchy support makes it difficult to purchase apps. It would be nice if the app page in iTunes had an Accessibility compliancy section so I could more easily determine if the app supports features such as VoiceOver.
Another shortfall is the on-screen keyboard. With my particular visual difficulties, the on-screen keyboard would be more effective if the key was dark and the lettering light in a look similar to the chic-let keyboards on a MacBook Pro. You can achieve this effect in Accessibility by manipulating the screen contrast, i.e., a reverse video effect. This changes the keyboard, but it also changing the entire screen. I don’t want to change the entire screen; only the keyboard. Come on Apple, you let me change the keyboard layout. Let me change the default color.
Yes, I know Apple, your company is a leader in making the technology experience available to a wider group of people. Apple is eons ahead of Amazon. Apple has added Siri to the iPhone 4s and dictation for the iPad. But, there is still more than can be done.; some which should be relatively simple to accomplish.