Saddened, but not fully discouraged about newest updates

Accessibility Advocacy

As a former user of Apple products, it saddens me very greatly to see the road which it appears that Apple has taken lately in regards to accessibility. Though it seems that some efforts are being made to correct prior error, let's address a few critical things. Realize that these comments stand not just for us blind individuals, but more the bigger picture in a whole.

First of all, there is the situation with all of the bugs which were released with the first-coming release of I O S 8.0. Again, I stress that most issues have been fixed, especially within the new I O S 8.1.1 which was just recently distributed to all users. Unfortunately, due to prior bad judgement on behalf of Apple by means of releasing faulty OS firmware which included many accessibility problems for both blind and visually impaired people, the faith ratio in Apple's reliability has decreased quite significantly in many respects.

Along with the problems which were encountered within I O S, there were also many issues within the new OSX Yosemite 10.10 for the Macintosh platform. Speaking not only as a personal user, but also from an academic level, I myself am a student attending certain college online courses and certification classes. For me, my studies require me to use a mac computer to carry out certain tasks. Part of this involves internet research. In Yosemite, a convenient feature was introduced to low vision and blind individuals who use the Voiceover screen reader to read what is on the screen. Apple introduced a new way by means of simply depressing any of the four arrow keys by themselves to interact with the web content. This applies to any html area regardless the application at hand. The problem however is that if a user decides to switch back and forth between arrow navigation and the traditional Voiceover navigation methods, they will find themselves in quite a mess. More specifically, the Voiceover focus does not track with the arrow key navigation, even if the Voiceover screen reader is set to follow the keyboard focus within the Voiceover preferences. This becomes very aggravating to most users as this means one cannot reliably jump by certain html elements such as headings, tables, form controls, etc. whilst still maintaining use of the new arrow key navigation. For this reason, the new feature is made impractical in many situations.

Another thing which has been reported to Apple multiple times which I do not see fixed, not even in the new 10.10.1 update released on November seventeenth, 2014 is the confusing message spoken by Voiceover when a character is inserted into a text area while in an html area. Voiceover will speak the message "New line selected." For advanced Voiceover users as myself, this is simply a major annoyance, however for beginner users who might not be at all familiar with the Mac, or with Voiceover in a whole, this is confusing, not to mention very misleading. If an individual was unaware that this was simply a bug, they may actually think that they have indeed done just that... selected a new line of text. By the time that they realize this is not the case, they have been pulling their hair out trying to figure out what is occurring. Again, I reiterate that this issue has been brought up to Apple many many times. Even in the new 10.10.1 update, this still seems to be an ongoing problem.

Further, there is an issue with a friend of mine's macbook 13 inch mid 2010 polycarbon system which was just updated to the new 10.10.1 O S X distribution. It appears that when running 10.10, his system ran fine. On the contrary, when he updated, his system became sluggish, and took a significantly long time to finish performing the update. (More so than usual.) In Apple's defense, this could be a result of him having only 2GB of ram, which I did advise him to try upgrading at some point, if at all possible.

In conclusion, my ultimate goal in this article is to bring awareness to the fact that Apple still seems to have a long ways to go to fix the problems which they have created most recently. I would like to say that I have complete faith that they will be fixed, however, though I haven't lost total hope, I am a bit skeptical, I will confess. If Apple Accessibility happens to read this, I very kindly ask that they take into consideration these issues, and diligently work to perform the necessary processes to insure they are dealt with in a timely and prompt manor.



Submitted by Ben Bloomgren on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I am still more or less an Apple user, and I used to simply update without even considering. It was that stellar. However, I was burned when iOS Eight came out, causing me to seek other cellular telephonic adventures. I know several Apple developers, and they all say one thing:

We've told you guys again and again and again that X, Y and Z are either broken or compromised. Upgrades and updates have arisen subsequently, and many of those same issues are still at hand. What are they to do as devs, and what moreso are we to do as customers? I'm not even speaking about the impacts to corporate and organizational clients etc. Why even send out an update/upgrade when the same gambit of negatives is not fixed? it gives the impression as an outsider of a group of programmers sitting in a room trying to code around a termite mound when the best solution would be to simply remove the wood which is the mound's source. it's a bad analogy, but that's what it looks like to me.

Submitted by splyt on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

And .... there is the time to marketing mather, which few of you seen to understand.

In the past, Microsoft was the single operating system manufacturer representative enough. As such, Microsoft did what they wanted .... noone could talk or do nothing. After all, if one was not satisfied with Windows, they could very well go use an obscure operating OS and be incompatible with the world.

Microsoft introduced accessibility at the win32 API level, developped MSAA (Microsoft active accessibility), then built uia (user ibnterface authomation) and a lot of screen readers could be created / developped, enabling disabled people to use at a better or worse level the operating system.

If Microsoft chase not to integrate accessibility APIs and support, folks would not be able to use windows, thus staying outside of the mainstream computers use. But they did work on accessibility and then things went the way all us know and that's all.
But not everything is only about accessibility:
If you get the visual studio 6 and compare with visual studio .net, if you get office 97 and compare with office 2003, if you get the 9x architecture and compare with NT architecture, you will see a difference.
If you compare windows XP with windows 7 and windows 7 with windows 8 you will see a difference. And why?
Because the market changes and so change corporations on that market.

But the subject here is Apple. And we have to realise that Apple was for many years what Microsoft was for PCs, in the mobile context.
No other company could dictate what to do. Apple had all its time and all the power to decide what and when things were made .... those unsatisfied could very well leave the iphone and go use any oother obscure, basic and buggy piece of hardware trying to be a smartphone.

In this context, Apple has chosen to be an accessible company, in the sense that VO brought an unprecedented in my opinion level of quality of screen reading. I think many people like me migrated practically all their computing related activities to the iphone. This was untill more or less the IOS 5 build.
But then the market changed again. Android started to implement new features, and Apple was no longer the only player deciding what would or not to be best or what would be available as new features to devices. In fact, IOS 6 was so different from IOS 5 and IOS 7 was a full rebuild of the whole thing. This would not happen if Apple still were the only player deciding what paths the smartphone market would follow .....

In this senarius, things become more complicated. When one does not have the power to decide when and how things are done, some priorities have to be choosen over others.

What Apple did and anoied me in IOS 7 was they went as fast as they could and made IOS 7 available. Clearly accessibility was bnot a high priority and they could not wait untill everything was ready, they needed to make the build available, cinse their competitors were also making thheir new OS's available. Loose time to marketing was not acceptable. In fact, IOS accessibility came to an acceptable level in my opinion almost seven or eight months latter.

What Apple did that makes me happy in IOS 8 is that about one month latter the first OS release fixed the vast majority of the accessibility problems. If they can't wait for the accessibility stuff to be ready and have to put the new OS for release but soon they update stuff fixing these issues, it's ok for me.
We can not forget that the two other competitors are not as worried with accessibility, so this is not something they have to take in account. IOS shall not loose space, because once it stops to be the reference OS in terms of mobile operating system and once it gets less used, the situation will became worse for us cinse the next company to be the reference is note likely going to be as worried with accessibility. So if the price to keep IOS in the first place is to wait one month for an accessible enough build I am in.

Submitted by Special K on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm with Splyt on this one. Regardless how frustrated I get with Voiceover's bugs, and can I say it took iOS8 a month to get the ones I was most frustrated with settled, it's still the best built-in accessibility solution bar none! I realize Talkback is making strides, and I have an Android Tablet running Lollypop, and an Android phone running KitKat, but let's face it! Talkback is clunky, and worse on it's best day than Voiceover is on its worst! Also, where sighted people are concerned, even if you read the gushing Lollypop reviews, you will find that there are some things that were inplemented sloppily, or even completely left out of that operating system. As for seemless operation, I had to hack my device that I bought just a year ago to get L to install on it, while even an iPad 2, and an iPhone 4S are supported, although with a noticeable speed decrease, but that's to be expected. As for your friend's 2010 Macbook, really? I think it's great that Yosemite even works on it at all! If it's a bit sluggish, he shouldn't complain. Some of this is just nitpicky entitlement stuff, and come on! Most people settle for worse performance from Jaws, and still gladly dole out the credit card info for the updates. Apple's are free, and again, Voiceover on it's worst day is still more seemless than Jaws on its best! I know, I use both! It's all about perspective!

Submitted by splyt on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

And fior the VO focus .... once you select a heading or other HTML element just do a vo right arrow and there your focus goes as it should go. Problem solved.

What worries me are not problems that might be easily solved as this one can. Instead, serious bugs such as the bluetooth keyboard not working ... but these are already squashed.

Submitted by Special K on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Even so, a workaround for the bluetooth keyboard problem existed, and worked. Fortunately though, they squashed the bug.

Submitted by Nickus on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The other day we had this exact discussion on another forum, Apple releasing versions of software these days with more and more bugs, as if they release it before its totally finished. But yes it's all about the compatition and staying ahead of the game. This is not about the Steve Jobs eara, some guys maintain this sort of thing didn't happen in those days and if Jobs was around today it would still not happen, but even if Jobs was around today it would have happend. It's all about getting your product to market quicker, to beat the compitition in bringing out a new phone, a new computer, a new feature in your latest OS update. Ultimatly it's about getting more market share than your compeditors.
I also agree that I'm totally fine to wait a month or 2 for VO bugs to be squashed, in my mind Apple is still miles ahead of Android when it comes to straight out the box accessibility and eas of use.
Just this passed weekend when I got my iPhone 6 I was reminded of this again, I took it out the box, pressed the power button for it to turn on, tripple clicked the home button and boom I got going. The other day I wanted to help a friend set up his new Sony phone and for the life of me I couldn't get the Talkback going without sighted assistance. I'm a early adopter and always want the latest and greatest software, earlyer today I updated to the new iOS 8.1.1 and as I type I am busy downloading the Yosemite 10.10.1 update before even reading anything on possible new VO bugs.

Submitted by splyt on Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Miles ahead of android when it comes to accessibility but not for other subjects.

And it does need to be miles from Android for all other subjects to keep being used by more people. We deppend on sighted people, they need to keep using IOS ... otherwise money goes away and so it goes the accessibility investiments ..... so the more they keep using Apple stuff the better for us.
So yep... let's keep folks using IOS and enjoy the great accessibility that acompanies the OS.

The OS X 10.10 is the very best version I have ever yused in terms of accessibility. Apple is doing a good work.

Submitted by Usman on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I disagree that accessibility on IOS is miles ahead of android. Maybe this was the case in the past but its no longer the case after the release of lollipop. Although accessibility on android is not up to par, the gap is slowly decreasing between the two operating systems. Once accessibility is at par, I will switch over.

Submitted by rdfreak on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The fact is, and will always remain for me, apple was the very first to implement accessibility out of the box. I have a lot of respect for them.
I agree with the majority of comments here. eg, if apple are going to release updates to try and get on top, but they want to kill VO bugs in a months time, I'll live. As long as I can still nuse the majority of featues I'm more than satisfied.

Submitted by Mike Freeman on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It seems to me that if we are going to take Apple off the hook for broken accessibility features for a month or two in order to allow Apple to keep up with or get ahead of the competition, then Apple ought to allow us to downgrade our iOS versions to the last update of the last major version of the iOS for at least six months if we find accessibility in the new OS unsatisfactory.

Submitted by Wayne A on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I have been an Apple user since losing my eyesight and have continually been impressed with their commitment to accessibility. From what I've seen, no other mainstream organization has come close to matching their success in integrating accessibility in all their products.

I think we have to realize that every new software release will undoubtedly have bugs that affect various aspects of how the software performs, including accessibility. However, I am impressed that Apple has addressed many of these bugs in the two updates to IOS 8. Would I like to see further improvement? Absolutely. But we have to remember that Apple is, no doubt bombarded with a multitude of demands. What is important is to notify Apple Accessibility of any bugs. However, I don't think it is reasonable to attack Apple's commitment to accessibility because every bug is not fixed as soon as we would like.

I have updated to the latest IOS and Yosemite versions and am very happy with their overall performance. In fact, despite the bugs, I found both Yosemite and IOS8, in their original forms, to be very usable with a few workarounds.

In conclusion, let's continue to notify Apple of any accessibility issues and be a little patient. In the meantime, this Forum is a great source of information on how to deal with or work around any perceived bugs.

Submitted by Joe on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I think they've made improvements. With every new release things change. Apple has tons of different departments which all have to then get with accessability, and I think thats why we see some times the lag. However this being said the last 2 releases have fixed things well.

Submitted by JuanitaHorn on Monday, November 24, 2014

I'm using an Astrum 3.0 Bluetooth keyboard and sometimes while typing, letters repeat themselves. To get rid of this annoying problem, I have to switch off my iPhone 5C and back on again. The short cut keys in the Safari App is not working.

Submitted by Ekaj on Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I just upgraded to Yosemite a few weekends ago, with the help of a sighted friend. It is working very well thus far on my mid-2013 MBA. For instance, one accessibility enhancement I've seen is that VoiceOver now announces "low battery" when it needs to, without Battery Monitor. But I've decided to keep that app on my system at least for the time being, just in case the built-in low-battery notification is broken again in a future update or something. Despite some minor VO quirks I have to hand it to Apple for rolling out another good release. Sure there is the strange password glitch when upgrading from Mavericks and using Keychain. I think this has been further complicated on my end by the fact that my Apple ID was on lockdown recently. But part of that has since been resolved. In addition, it seems that I can no longer install system updates for whatever reason. But I don't think this is accessibility-related, as all commands and dialogs are working as they should. I definitely agree with those of you who say we should continue to report these accessibility issues to the accessibility team at Apple, either via phone or online.

I have to disagree with this and the general sentiments regarding Yosemite, because for Low Vision users it is a step backwards. The extra transparency and faint fonts are not good. There are also a lot of complaints about font smoothing in Yosemite. When running on non retina displays the fonts look dreadful and blurred apparently. Looking at Yosemite in the Apple Store I have noticed a bug in the "Reduce Transparency" option that gets set automatically with the "Increase Contrast" checkbox I think. When you have the "Reduce Transparency" option set the Trash can is much more difficult to see! The new Safari 8 has nasty features, but they are general and not access related as such, apparently there is a way to get the browser to display the proper url in the address bar by changing a preferences option.

For various reasons I have only just upgraded to Mavericks, after having got it before Yosemite became available, and Mavericks is the best OS X I have used. The thought of going to Yosemite appalls me. I noticed that Safari 5.x had a better Reader option that Safari 6.x that happened with the last update to Lion. Safari 7.x hasn't improved this. The Reader now has less contrast, also the Reader no longer responds to "Pinch To Zoom". This is ironic as the new TextEdit in Mavericks does respond to "Pinch To Zoom".

The Black theme seems to be a gimmick, only the Menu bar and Window Tittles are changed, I recall, from looking at it. I hope the next OS after Yosemite is better, but I won't hold my breath since iOS 8 is more of the same iOS 7 offering, just warmed up. I don't use any smartphones or tablets, but looking at iOS 7 showed me it was dreadful. There have been some improvements, but compared to the old iOS it isn't good.

The only annoying bug in accessibility in Mavericks is that Zoom doesn't start on startup. If you shutdown with the display zoomed, it will not be zoomed when you next reboot. You have to restart it with Command Option 8, or do the Control 2 fingers swipe gesture to zoom. I can't solve this or find any reference to it online. I have a post about this in the OS X discussion forum about this, with no replies.

The fact that I have full access to Launch Pad, Mission Control and Time Machine backups makes up for this annoying bug. The display is much clearer than under Lion. It is a great shame that the display in Yosemite is a lot worse on non retina displays apparently.