VoiceOver

Inaccessibility even faster: Facebook’s latest update

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Facebook's latest app update has improved the speed of the software but has failed to increase the app's accessibility, and made performing some tasks impossible for blind users.

According to Facebook, newsfeed updates will load faster and actions such as commenting and clicking 'like' will be updated in real time. However, our testing of the updated app on an iPhone 4S shows a number of features that are still inaccessible using VoiceOver.

Some of the new accessibility barriers include:

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Google Maps make Sydney public transport directions accessible

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Google and Transport New South Wales have teamed up to introduce Sydney public transport directions to the Google Maps app.  After testing, we can safely say that accessibility has been a key consideration in the feature’s development.

Media Access Australia staff tested the public transport option in the Google Maps app for iPhone and found it is accessible via the VoiceOver screen reader. This means people who are blind or vision impaired will now have greater access to information on Sydney’s trains, buses, ferries and light rail services when using the Google Maps app on the Apple iPhone.

Information that can be accessed through the public transport option on the Google Maps app includes:

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Fleksy app improves texting for blind or vision impaired users

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A yet-to-be-released iOS iPhone app called Fleksy has stripped down the traditional touchscreen keyboard to make typing text more accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired.

The app automatically detects words as a user is typing and works with the inbuilt iOS screen reader VoiceOver.

While traditional keyboards offer a tactile experience for blind or vision impaired users, touch screen keyboards often prove challenging without something tangible to guide users while typing. However the Fleksy app will improve this experience for blind or vision impaired users through automatic detection of words as the user types combined with VoiceOver which will announce suggested words.

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Free and mobile screen readers on the rise

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The use of free screen reader NVDA and screen readers on mobile devices has increased significantly over the last year, according to a survey conducted by WebAim. The results of the Screen Reader User Survey, conducted in May this year, has shown that the popularity of commercial screen readers such as JAWS and Windows-Eyes have waned in the last year while use of NVDA has increased in the same period. Screen readers on mobile devices have also become more popular in the last year.

The survey, which received 1782 valid responses, was a follow-up to the original WebAIM Screen Reader User Survey of January 2009 and the follow-up survey from December 2010.

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