Accessibility For Everybody

Other people find smartphones and tablets even more frustrating. Imagine not being able to hear audio cues or unlock a device. A two-fingered swipe or pinch isn’t effortless with osteoarthritis or with a finger in a cast. The World Health Organization estimates 295 million people worldwide are visually impaired, and nearly 40 million are blind. Ever answer a call or check Twitter without seeing what you’re doing?

Back in 1995-1996 when I was helping people set up some of the earliest cybercafes, we quickly learned that the emerging connected world needed to be, and could be, accessible to all regardless of physical or sensory impairment, and that improvements in accessibility frequently benefited all users. The Macintosh was generally a good platform for supporting screen readers and assistive devices, though it could get pretty expensive quickly (similarly for adding multi-lingual support), but OS X changed everything by building this stuff right into the out-of-the-box experience. That iOS still has the best assistive support is no surprise, but this isn't about one platform winning—it's about driving the whole market to do the right thing.