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Archive for Editorials

★ A First Look at VoiceOver in iOS 6

Apple’s sixth major release of iOS has finally arrived. Along with the scores of new features for users of all stripes come changes and enhancements to the mobile operating system’s accessibility features, including VoiceOver.

This article is not meant to be an exhaustive list of everything that has changed in iOS 6. Instead, it should provide highlights of some of the most interesting additions and enhancements to the system’s accessibility feature set.

Although iOS 6 is available on the iPad 2, 3rd-generation iPad, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S, as well as Apple’s forthcoming iPhone 5, not all features are available on all devices. We will try to clarify when a feature being discussed is not available on all devices.

Let’s take a look at iOS 6. » Read more..

★ A Look at Accessibility and VoiceOver in iOS 5

As is our custom at Mac-cessibility, we won’t be covering the more general enhancements and additions to the iOS operating system which powers Apple’s mobile devices in this review. While some of the new features will certainly be relevant to our discussion, we’re going to be primarily focussing on what’s new in terms of accessibility, especially where regards VoiceOver.

A Note on Timing

A few people have asked us why we waited so long to publish our review of iOS 5 and the new features found in VoiceOver. The fact is that any users publishing reviews, blogs, and additional information on iOS 5 and the new VoiceOver features prior to 12/October/2011, beyond that which Apple has specifically released, are doing so in violation of Apple’s Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which they had to accept before gaining access to the software. We at Mac-cessibility believe that such violations show a lack of respect to Apple, and most especially to the developers who comprise the VoiceOver team. We, therefore, will never publish details of Apple’s products before embargoes are lifted, nor will we provide links to sites which publish such content, unless the information comes straight from Apple itself.

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★ The Lives He Touched…

Louis Braille…Helen Keller…Steve Jobs…

If that list seems incongruous, it isn’t. There are few throughout history who have had as profound an impact on the lives of the visually impaired as Steve Jobs.

He wasn’t an engineer, or a scientist, or a mathematician. He was, at his core, a man who saw beyond the limitations of the present to the possibilities of the future, and how that future could, and in fact should, be inclusive to all, regardless of an individual’s limitations or abilities.

A few of those who have contributed to this site over the years have shared their thoughts on the loss of Steve Jobs. The pieces below do not try to tell a cohesive story. They are meant only to offer a glimpse into the lives of a handful of individuals among the multitudes whom Steve Jobs’s vision touched.

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★ Crossroads: Rekindling the Accessible Ebook Discussion

A few weeks ago, I read a question posed by someone on Twitter that rekindled a line of thought I have had on and off for a couple of years. In essence, the question was this: "We have BookShare.org, the National Library Service, and other similar resources. Why should we care about the accessibility of eBook platforms like iBooks, Kindle, Adobe Digital Editions, etc?"

On the surface, this question, which has been posed by several people with whom I’ve been acquainted, appears to be a pragmatic one. If one digs a little deeper, however, it becomes an illustration of an alarming attitude, often an unconscious one, throughout the visually impaired community.

Before exploring that aspect, though, let’s take a quick look at just a few of the strictly practical answers that can be given to this question.

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★ Memoirs of a Blind Switcher: 5 Years On

by John Panarese

It’s hard to believe that I have been a Mac user for nearly six years now. I look back on the original article I wrote on my early days as a switcher from Windows to the Mac, and I am truly amazed. I can’t believe how much time has passed, and I certainly am so proud and thrilled to have been a part of something that has progressed so quickly and so impressively. Indeed, if there is someone who is “truly a happy Mac user”, I surely fit the definition.

That’s right folks. VoiceOver on the Mac is still going strong. It wasn’t a “quick fix” Apple was legally “forced” to create to keep them from facing lawsuits from disability groups. It wasn’t a one-shot deal that would never see improvements. Apple hasn’t decided to throw it by the wayside because us blind folks make up such a small segment of a potential market. It hasn’t become stagnant or left behind as Apple has come out with new operating systems.

So many of the detractors and critics said all those kinds of things over the years. But, after Tiger came Leopard, and after Leopard, Snow Leopard was released. And this summer, Lion will become the latest operating system Apple will produce for the Mac. Through it all, VoiceOver has continued to evolve and improve, and I have no doubts at all that this trend will only continue. Apple is committed to accessibility, and it’s becoming harder and harder for the doubters and detractors to make the claims of the past, especially as the iPhone became accessible and we, as blind people, have access to the iPad and all of the latest iPods.

Here I am with my Mac Book having been replaced by a Mac Book Pro in 2009, and I own an iPhone 3GS, an original iPad, and a 2nd generation Apple TV as well. I also still use my 4th generation iPod Nano just about every day. Yes, as Apple has expanded the accessibility in their devices, it seems their products have found their way into my home. I don’t deny it in the least that I have become an Apple "fan boy".

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