Most VoiceOver users are well aware of the wildly inaccurate and blatantly bias review of VoiceOver published by the American Foundation for the Blind back in 2005. There have also been allegations from multiple and separate sources that representatives of the AFB have commented that they would attempt to undermine VoiceOver, viewing it as a threat to commercial Windows screen reading applications.
In the May 2008 issue of Access World, an online magazine published by the AFB, they once again play down the capabilities of VoiceOver. The comments come in a piece entitled "From Vinyl to Digital: My First Experiences with Electronic Audio Players" by Darren Burton. To his credit, Mr. Burton’s comments are not nearly as outlandish as those put forward by Jay Leventhal, but it is important to call attention to a couple of the most inaccurate.
The most notable of the misstatements in this piece is also the most transparent. Mr. Burton writes that VoiceOver will give access to "some, but not all" of the applications on the Mac. While perfectly true, the same statement holds true for any screen reader for any platform. Not every piece of software will be wholly accessible with any screen access solution. This statement, coupled with his emphasis that VoiceOver does not provide as complete access as Windows screen readers serves no purpose but to undermine how powerful Voiceover is in reality without providing any real evidence.
The above is compounded by the fact that Mr. Burton says that he could not load songs onto his iPods with iTunes and VoiceOver, excepting the iPod Shuffle. This seems to indicate that he did not take the time to learn VoiceOver and its full functionality, as there are several ways of loading tracks onto your iPod through iTunes and all of them are perfectly accessible with VoiceOver. These include VoiceOver’s drag-and-drop functions, as well as iTunes myriad of methods for synching music in your library to your iPods.
If Mr. Burton did not take the time to learn VoiceOver, he is clearly in no position to claim that it is less capable than the Windows screen readers he is familiar with.
We encourage those of you who feel strongly about insuring that Access World publishes the facts about VoiceOver and accessibility on the Mac, to contact Access World.