Thursday, March 9, 2023

2022 Apple Vision Accessibility Report Card

AppleVis (via Steven Aquino):

To gather the ratings and comments contained in the report card, we conducted a comprehensive survey where participants rated their experience using Apple’s various platforms with the available vision accessibility features on a scale of 1 to 5. Additionally, we invited participants to provide detailed written feedback and suggestions for enhancing Apple’s vision accessibility features and user experience. The survey also included questions that assessed Apple’s performance in addressing vision-related bugs, as well as the new vision accessibility features added in 2022.

The report card below presents a summary of the survey results, showcasing the areas where Apple excels and where there is room for improvement. It also includes a selection of participant comments, providing further insight into the specific challenges and opportunities related to Apple’s vision accessibility offerings.

There are lots of complaints about VoiceOver on macOS.


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Yup, as there should be. And this is an excellent answer to people who think that Apple just cares so very very much about accessibility, for the warm fuzzy factor.

Thanks for platforming! We need the help.

In my experience as someone who works regularly with the macOS Accessibility API as part of my day job, I can see accessibility features in macOS languishing. Apple doesn't add APIs for new features, like the Accessibility Keyboard. (Why isn't there a way to trigger it programmatically?) And accessibility data about UI elements is getting less and less reliable.

A big part of the problem is Electron apps. One of the major downsides of using Electron that I rarely see people talk about is that it doesn't support accessibility at all. Period. You cannot get *anything* about what's going on inside those apps, meaning that screen readers and other accessibility tools are utterly useless with them.

But perhaps more worrying than that, Catalyst apps don't work properly either. They do at least support the Accessibility API in a cursory way, but often the information they report is wrong, or completely out of step with a native macOS application, once again rendering Accessibility applications broken, or requiring them to do kludgey workarounds to fix Apple's own bugs. That's really worrying because it's *Apple's* API, not some third party.

And shall I bring up TCC and all of its bugs, and how awful it can be trying to get apps authorized to even use these functions?

Anyone following this particular API could see the decline in Apple's software quality before it started reaching critical levels in macOS 10.15.

@Bri Yup, Electron apps are only as accessible as the app dev wants them to be, exactly like the web in general. Sometimes it's passable, sometimes it's nonexistent, never is it ever as good as a clean native app. The struggle for supremacy is thus on who can offer the strongest bodges and workarounds, and here Windows AT seems to have the edge. As a Mac platform fan(boy), this makes me sad.

And you're right, Catalyst is shocking really. The Mac App Store requires VoiceOver users to struggle to obtain information, and to use the physical mouse or mouse simulation in order to trigger elements that can't be activated using standard accessibility events. It really is very bad.

All of which it to say that Apple certainly get praise for the principle, but increasingly not for the practice. Beware the PR siren song of commitment to accessibility. Especially if you don't rely on it! There's a cost to internalising accessibility, much as I adore the philosophy. That being, it changes with business priorities.

Hello and thanks for blogging about this. I have been a Mac user since the end of 2013, and I respectfully disagree with some of this. Apple does care about accessibility, and they even state it on their website. Nobody and nothing is perfect, but I've been quite impressed with this company over the years. In 2018 I became an iPhone user, and never even thought I could use one due to the flat screen. But I'm still on my first iPhone, and am going for my second one hopefully by the end of the month. I'm only a speech user for now, but recently received a free Braille device courtesy of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled and HumanWare. My thanks also goes out to AppleVis for being a wealth of information in this regard.

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