VoiceOver

Blind Arabic speakers left out in iOS 7

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Blind Arabic speakers have identified that the quality of the screen reader has gone backwards in the latest update to the Apple iPad and iPhone software.

In the update to iOS 7, Apple removed the ‘Majed’ voice for the Arab language setting for VoiceOver and replaced it with the inferior ‘Tariq’ voice.

VoiceOver is the built in screen reader for all Apple devices which allows blind users to navigate their smartphone or tablet. VoiceOver can be controlled through a series of gestures useful for blind users who cannot see buttons or other visual elements on the screen.

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Accessibility improvements announced at Apple WWDC

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A number of new features announced at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) held in San Francisco last week reveals some potential improvements to the accessibility of Apple devices. Presenting to developers, Apple unveiled its new operating system (OS), called OS X Mavericks, and the latest version of its mobile OS, called iOS 7.

Mavericks will come installed on Apple’s desktop computers and laptops including the iMac, Macbook Pro and Macbook Air, while iOS 7 will come installed on Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

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VoiceOver saved in Apple, Samsung patent battle

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Apple's screen reader VoiceOver has been saved from being removed from Apple devices, after a German court ruled against Samsung's claim that VoiceOver breached one of its patents. The ruling comes as a relief to the blind and vision impaired community.

VoiceOver is an assistive tool that interprets text on screen and delivers this information back to the user in audible form. This enables blind users to navigate and access apps on their device. When VoiceOver was first introduced in iOS devices in 2009, it became an affordable alternative to other commercial screen readers.

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American Foundation of the Blind launches note-taking app

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A specialised iPhone and iPad app called AccessNote has been launched by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), enabling blind and vision impaired users around the world to write notes on their phones. With a host of accessibility features including compatibility with braille displays and keyboard navigation, AccessNote is an affordable alternative to traditional note-taking devices.

The AccessNote is the first note-taking app specifically designed for blind and vision impaired users, and thus includes VoiceOver support, and adjustable colour contrast and text size.

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