I have been using so called smart phones for about 7 years and have been in contact with dozens of developers for various reasons so far. The most important of these reasons is accessibility, for sure.
In this post, I will share the most interesting responses I received from developers to my accessibility related feedback and fun dialogs we had. At the end of the post, I will specially thank a team of developers that we have been working with recently and have achieved success in a very short amount of time.
First of all, let me briefly explain why we would need accessibility improvements. In order for us, the visually impaired, to be able to use the apps effectively and equally like everyone else, the apps must work well with the screen readers we use on our smartphones and computers. Making the necessary improvements is not very difficult, but what is more difficult than the development phase is to ensure that the developers are aware of the issues we experience and call them for action. Believe me, this is not really easy.
I want to share the most interesting answers I have received so far without revealing any app or developer’s name. Since most of these developers are Android developers, considering the fact that Android accessibility is less known than iOS side, you may imagine the resulting dialogs already. Normally it’s a tradition to add to the very bottom of posts as a disclaimer, but let me explain in advance. TalkBack, which you will often read, is the screen reader we use on Android. From local developers to developers of well-known apps around the world, I got interesting answers from all of them. Let’s get started now, right 🙂 Sit back, relax and enjoy the post!
“Everything’s fine, but…”
The response of a developer, that I wrote by adding the necessary resources and what was missing in his app in a very detailed way was as follows:
Okay, Everything’s fine, but there is a very important question in my head. How to connect a screen reader to the phone? Besides, I also heard that the price is too high. I don’t have the money to buy such a device. Better yet, use the (xx) app that is very similar to my app.
In fact, he got a point. There is a commercial screen reader on the Windows side and it is sold at very crazy prices. He might have thought of this As soon as he saw the words screen and reader. . I made some more explanations to him, but unfortunately we couldn’t get to a positive result.
“This Is Amazing!”
The response I received from a developer made me smile a lot. His app is quite simple, but there were several unlabeled buttons. He responded to my mail in a few hours and wrote:
I feel quite excited since I read your message. I never thought that a blind person would use my app. It’s amazing! I’ll do what you suggested right away and send you a beta.
He said he would and he did in the same day. He fixed all the problems and sent me a beta. There are thousands of apps doing exactly the same job, but I have used his app for a long time just because of that warm approach. Nowadays, he no longer publishes updates though.
“We don’t recommend using our app with TalkBack”
That was said by a senior manager of a very popular app. At first I talked to a live chat representative and then to a higher level representative. When she understood nothing from what I said, she directed me to their senior executive manager. I told him about all the accessibility problems we had during almost 2 hours. As a result, he tried to stand out, saying that the app should not be used with TalkBack Hence they have never worked for the accessibility side. If it were as they said, I wouldn’t be able to use the app in any ways, since I only encountered a few problems, I wanted them to be resolved, I responded. After making me wait for around 10 minutes, he apologized for this attitude and said that the issues would be resolved as soon as possible. They would call me at certain intervals and ask me if the issues I reported still persists.
Result: We still face similar problems using the app.
“ı urgently need your help bro!”
The developer this time welcomed me in a quite warm way and told me that he would fix the issues. However, on the same day’s evening I was shocked by a message: Bro I need your help urgently.
Out of curiosity, He enabled TalkBack on his phone but he couldn’t turn it off. Fortunately, he called me from his computer and we turned it off together. That day I laughed until my stomach hurt so badly.
“We added this feedback to our todo list for the next year”
Even this short piece of text is enough to make you go mad! See, they would make the changes I addressed but it would be in their todo list for the next year. This response is also from a very popular app’s android developers. It took me a while to change their mind saying accessibility is not a feature but it’s a must and it’s our right to have it everywhere.
It’s not possible to use our app with Google Assistant”
Again, a team of developers those I sent a very long explanation and the helpful resources wrote that it’s not possible to do it all with Google Assistant. But the puzzle was complete When I sent them a video explaining the difference between Google Assistant and TalkBack. Result: They fixed all the issues.
I tried a note taking app that is still in the early access stage and sent them a feedback about the accessibility issues. They got back in the same day and stated that they would fix the problems. They solved many of the issues I addressed with the new beta they released yesterday. Perhaps we will have a brand new yet completely accessible note-taking app for Android with the future final release. Special thanks to Ammodo Labs from Italy. Go check out their Amazing App and give it a try.
Note for developers
It never matters if you don’t know anything about accessibility and hope you’re not offended after reading this post. There are huge amount of resources on the internet, and enough blind people to test your app and send feedback your way.
You can get started from the following links depending on your platform of choice respectively.
Android accessibility for developers
iOS accessibility for developers