iPad Accessibility, Part Two

Posted on Jun 5, 2010
iPad Accessibility, Part Two

We just can’t get enough of the iPad. From every media outlet come mentions of the device as it pertains to our digital lives. Of particular interest to readers of this blog are the iPad’s applicability to topics relating to digital accessibility.

A Great Schools blog post by Valle Dwight describes how the iPad might be the ideal learning tool for students with Down syndrome. Among the apps mentioned are Dragon Dictate, Proloquo2Go and others at the Ability Net and Abled Body websites. Citing her 13-year-old son Aidan as an example, Dwight describes how the iPad’s intuitive interface and rich feature set could benefit people with cognitive disabilities:

As much as he struggles with reading, Aidan’s a wizard with the iPhone. He picked up his uncle’s iPhone one day, and without anyone telling him how to do it, he found and figured out every game app on it (and there were a lot). The touch screen and the apps are intuitive to him in a way that a keyboard is not. My only gripe is that the screen is so small. So now comes the iPad … the GPS could help him if he gets lost, he could use Speak it! if he can’t read the text on the screen, and Dictate will help him make lists.

In the United Kingdom, a draft British Standard on web accessibility has warned organizations that ignoring the needs of disabled users could breach BS 8878 and the Equality Act. This includes a Code of Practice that is increasingly being broadened to cover mobile devices and iPads.

The Standard uses language that refers to websites as “web products,” and it indicates that these online properties can be applied to vehicle streams other than standard computers. It makes specific reference to “app” architecture and asks organizations to consider popularity of future devices in designing products and services:

“[Consider] the importance or popularity of that platform for non-disabled users; whether that platform is used or is likely to be used by disabled people; whether it is possible to make adjustments to the web product to make it accessible to disabled users of that platform; and where it is possible to make such adjustments, whether it is reasonable to do so … [Legislation] is likely to cover software, and require it to be accessible, where it is provided as a download for installation and running on a user’s computer or as an ‘app’ provided as a download for installation and running on a mobile device.”

Finally, it bears repeating that some excellent reviews of the iPad have been contributed by a number of folks with disabilities. Their insights are illuminating and insightful; hopefully content providers will take these and similar case studies into account when designing inclusive content for the iPad.

  • Victor Tsaran writes about his impressions of the iPad from a blind person’s point of view
  • Glenda Watson Hyatt describes the use of the iPad as an effective and affordable communication device
  • Crista Earl, Director of Web Operations for the American Foundation for the Blind, wrote about her impressions on the AFB blog
  • Martin Brooks created an iPhone app to communicate with his severely disabled daughter
  • 10-year-old Grace Domican, unable to speak since birth due to autism, now uses a touchscreen iPhone app to communicate