After orientation and mobility training, a job, and maybe a white cane and/or a guide dog (all in that order), the most useful thing a blind person (a blink) can do for themself is buy an iPhone or an iPad. (Not a “cellphone” and not a “tablet.”)

And, apparently, they are doing that. WebAIM’s screen-reader survey – just a survey, not a census – shows VoiceOver use at about 9% on desktop but nearly half on mobile. Those numbers seem plausible in order of magnitude. Most computers run Windows, including those blind people use on the job. But there’s more choice in the matter when it comes to phones; blind people pick the intrinsically accessible platform.

What are the alternatives? There really aren’t any.

  • At this point you shouldn’t be surprised that Google ships first and asks blinks questions later. It’s possible to run Android nonvisually, but that scenario seems to apply only to malcontents and tinkerers. Add in cheapskates and you’ve just described the Android userbase.

  • CrackBerry? RIM just issued another of its announcements about a screen reader, which, like Android’s, works with only some applications. I’d love to learn more, but RIM’s Web site won’t let me.

    Incorrect Browser: This [W]eb page uses ActiveX controls that work only in Microsoft Internet Explorer

    It won’t let Google in, either. (Google is a blind user.)

What about the Grey Lady?

I think we should just look the other way in response to the Times’s 1999-style, WCAG 1–compliant special blink version of its homepage. Without bothering to ask anybody there (not that they’d answer my mail), I infer this was the best they could get away with under the constraints of their CMS and their internal politics. One guy there knows how to solve the problem properly, but surely this isn’t the Costa Concordia and no single person can change the course of a ship that big.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2012.06.07 15:21. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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