Start-up helps app developers reach the blind

Staffed entirely by blind people, Appcessible offers direct user feedback rather than automated testing procedures.
Written by Rob O'Neill, Contributor

Blind iPhone user and technologist Jonathan Mosen is offering app developers a helping hand in servicing the blind.

Mosen has founded Appcessible, a start-up staffed entirely by blind people, to help app developers gain access to users of mobile assistive technologies.

Jonathan Mosen

New Zealand-based Mosen says while there are apps catering specifically to the needs of blind people, but most apps used by the blind are the same as those used everyone else.

If those apps are inaccessible to the blind, developers are missing out on a valuable market.

Blind people use VoiceOver, the screen reading software built into Apple's iOS, and Talkback on Android devices to perform the same tasks as their sighted counterparts.

"There is nothing more frustrating than downloading an app to find it isn't accessible with the screen reader that makes it possible for blind people to use these mobile devices," he says.

Feedback from developers was that they struggle providing such accessibility.

"It really isn't that difficult, and the app doesn't have to lose any of its visual appeal in the process - just conform to a few simple guidelines so the screen reader knows how to speak the information to a blind person, or display it using a Bluetooth-enabled Braille display," says Mosen.

Appcessible is the first platform where app developers can receive feedback and suggestions for making their product more accessible, he says. It offers reports on completed apps and consulting to ensure design principles are built in from the start of development.

There are no automated testing procedures. Instead, blind iOS and Android users test the apps at each phase of the process. The company will then help developers connect with blind customers and submit reviews of the app's accessibility to app directories.

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