Apple's new commitment to accessibility

Apple's new commitment to accessibility

Summary: Yesterday's Apple media event brought us more than just new iPods and a revamped version of iTunes. Apple used its new iPods and iTunes jukebox software to introduce new accessibility features for the visually-impared.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
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AppleÂ’s new commitment to accessibilityYesterday's Apple media event brought us more than just new iPods and a revamped version of iTunes. Apple used its new iPods and iTunes jukebox software to introduce new accessibility features for the visually-impared.

The iPod nano (4th generation) announced yesterday includes spoken menus that allow blind and low-vision owners choose music more easily. It also includes a new font size setting that lets you choose a standard or large font size. You can enable the large font in the Settings menu (pictured).

Apple also touts the high-contrast, adjustable brightness, backlit screens of the iPod classic, nano and touch as part of their accessibility features (they're easy to read in low-light conditions). While true, these features have previously existed in those products.

iTunes 8 is now screen-reader friendly on both Mac and Window PCs. It also provides compatibility with VoiceOver in Mac OS X Leopard and Window-Eyes 7.0 for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

What's nice is that Apple's new accessibility features are potentially useful for all users and things like spoken menus can be come in handy for operating an iPod when you can't (and maybe shouldn't) give it your undivided attention. Kudos to Apple for the taking these step and I hope that they'll continue to innovate with their accessible features.

The new features are highlighted in the vision section of Apple's new accessibility Web site.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

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18 comments
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  • So they're doing...

    ...what other device manufacturers have been doing for years?

    Innovation LOL!
    Sleeper Service
    • Really?

      Name ONE mp3 player manufacturer that does accessibility
      features.
      CowLauncher
      • RE: Lemon

        Wow! Considering the device has no tactile input a screen reader is going to be off little value if the user has no idea where the buttons are (as they cannot see the screen).

        Looks like Apple has made yet another Lemon and the Pips go crazy over it without even considering the bigger picture.

        The Church of Jobs and his many followers... Sheesh.
        Bozzer
        • You've never used an iPod?

          You've never used an iPod?

          If you have, then you'd know it doesn't need dimples or
          bumps on the click wheel.

          You find the center button (which is easy to find on any
          iPod without looking), and now you have full control of the
          iPod since the click wheel is a 4-axis around the center
          button.

          Anyone (except you, apparently) who uses an iPod for
          more than a few days can operate it without looking.

          Memorizing all the menus and submenus, however, would
          be difficult. So if the iPod tells you which menus you're
          on, you can navigate the iPod without ever looking at it.

          This is an important feature not just for visually impaired,
          but people who are driving or riding bicycles.
          olePigeon
        • Once again into the fray....

          Look. The market share for the iPods is over 70 percent. So
          there are far mother than just Apple fans purchasing these
          devices and that means Windows users. So no the Church of
          Jobs does not explain the popularity of the iPod. And no this
          revision of the iPod is not a lemon but I doubt you'll be seen
          when the next quarters sales figures come to light nor the
          next.

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn
          • Fashion accessory

            Look, the iPod is succesful because it has become a fashion item. However, like all fashion items it subject to a very volatile market.

            Unfortunately for those who are dedicated Apple pips they won't know what hit them, and they will go back to being products for geeks.

            After all the iPod doesn't even have the best sound quality for its price on the market. The success of the iPod is purely down to the fact that all the 'cool' people had one. Now that the local school bus driver and the refuse collector has one, they are hardly 'cool' any more.

            See where your market share is in two years from now Jimmy boy.
            Bozzer
          • Yeah and they've been saying that very same thing

            about the iPod for over 6 years now. My how time flies
            and yet here we remain.

            You fail to see on so many levels. First the other MP3
            players are incomplete items. The iPod with iTunes in the
            complete package. It's ready to run out of the box. WIth
            any other product I have to search around and well do
            stuff to make it work. GREAT I buy a toaster without a
            cord and have to go to the hardware store to purchase
            said cord then attache said cord to my toaster or I go to
            the store and buy a toaster with plug included and
            attached not brainer.

            Second my friend the bus drive has already purchased an
            iPod like 2 or 3 gens back and everyone does have one it's
            not unique in the least nor has it been so for years. Yet
            they still come back tim and time again. That very same
            buss drive probably purchased one or two as gifts for
            friends or family and add his word of mouth to the millions
            who keep praising the iPod and how it works to others and
            you understand that the time of claiming it simply as a
            fashion statement have long since passed. Still if all this
            time and all those iPods out there have yet to convince you
            I can wait another two years and I'll wait for your post
            admitting you were wrong. Like I still wait for those who
            said the same thing 2 years hence. Funny how they
            disappear far faster than the iPod..:P

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
          • Wow, put down the Kool Aid

            Is the iPod selling, yes it is.

            Is it the best MP3 player in the market, not even close.

            You rant about an integrated experience with iTunes and the iPod, and well, that experience varies from user to user. I HATE iTunes as it slows donw my machine and is completely non intuitive and yet, you claim this integration is the key to Apple's success.

            Well, ever used a Zune (the answer for you is probably no)? Zune integrates with the desktop an dis frankly a beautiful piece of software (something you Apple nuts claim is high on the priority list). It also integrates with Windows Media Center, windows Home Server and the XBOX 360 so that you can use your Zune Pass to downlonad 2 million plus songs and stream them to any device in your house.

            Let's say I'm having an 80's party at my house. I can go to the Zune marketplace and download a playlist (there are lots of them)or create my own and stream it to anywhere in the house.

            Get over it jim, people fell in love with the iPod because of good marketing (and ignorant people who believe said marketing).

            I'll go feature by feature with you on the Zune vs. the iPod and guarantee the Zune wins.

            So, are posting because your favorite device is more popular or that it is better? Hell, the Us voted for George W back in 2004 but does that mean he's the best president?

            Pat
            omdguy
          • Eh?

            Since when do toasters come without a power cord? And what kind of analogy is that anyway?

            You say an iPod just works out of the box. Wrong. You have to pair it up with iTunes before it will work! How is that just working out of the box? Ever tried creative Zens? You just plug them into the USB port and copy whatever you like accross to them, from any machine, anywhere.

            Oh, and dude. Newsflash for you. The iPod is just a portable music player. Obviously your reverence for it has clouded your judgement about the real world. Jobi mind trick? Perhaps you have never heard of the Sony Walkman and how that dominated the market for a while.

            Whats new this year with the fashion item? Not much. What are they going to do next year? Not much, its become a commodity item now. Get a grip Pagan Jim, its only a bloomin music player not a cross you wear round your kneck.
            Bozzer
          • You two are soooo funny

            You keep beating that some old drum and saying the same
            tired thing "Marketing" like it is the answer to the
            continued iPod popularity. Sure I'll give you that marketing
            can get people to purchase an item once but not all. Then
            comes the truly powerful took of the market people and
            what they say about a given product. When they rave
            about the iPod more and more people buy it and they
            continue to do year after year. If on the other hand they
            hate a product or find it lacking then it's sales despite
            marketing drop...as the iPods do not seem to be suffering
            from. So once again you two are wrong.

            As for trying out other products. Well here is your
            problem. I love my iTouch. Why would I waist time and
            money to go elsewhere? That is the problem most
            products like the Zen and Zune face. There is not clear
            incentive to try them for they don't offer anything
            compelling to switch. A great many of those so called
            features that you like to list of are not really all that and a
            bag of chips.

            80's party.... seriously!?!

            If the best you can do is throw tired arguments like
            marketing and even less impressive insults like kool aide
            drinking well then back to school for you two...:P

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
          • RE: Marketing = Tired?

            Boy Pagan Jim, you're such a genius to realise that marketing has no place in todays society. I guess all those companies lining googles pockets have a thing to learn from you.

            What do you honestly think jobs is doing when he gets up on the pulpit? Oh, let me guess, you probably think it is a sermon. Newsflash, he is marketing...
            Bozzer
        • Followers

          The iPod line holds a 73% marketshare. That's a pretty big
          church, as you call it.
          What do you call the group that buys personal computers with
          Windows on them?
          observer1959
          • Wheres the punchline?

            What happened to the rest of your joke? I really want to know what the group is called?
            Bozzer
          • More of a question and a fair one at that...

            I've been in the personal computer business longer than
            most. Now one of the longest claims in MS's favor has
            been it's market share and it's dominance of the OS
            business. Now "IF" that claim is to be believed as proof
            Windows quality and consumer desire for said product that
            should not the iPods continued market share dominance
            be considered in the same fashion. Now don't get me
            wrong I've never excepted that claim but still turn about is
            always fair play.

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
      • I couldn't find any. [nt]

        [nt]
        olePigeon
    • Well Sleeper might we ask for examples?

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Sure...

        ...the iRiver H series and the early Archos PMPs equipped with Rockbox. I'd also point out that Rockbox worked with iPods from at least 2007 as well.

        Plus, of course, every decent multimedia phone released in the UK over the last two to three years.
        Sleeper Service
        • Just checked out the iRive H300

          Tried to find any wording that pointed to accessibility but
          could not. Found it ugly as sin and looked a but pudgy.

          Pagan jim
          James Quinn