Sonos has broken accessibility for its blind users. Now they must repair the app and repair trust

Revision History

3 June, updated progress on accessibility  improvements, and commented on the BBC radio 4 In Touch interview.

15 May, added a section covering recent developments including the AMA session.

10 May, added a link to the 9to5Mac story on the Sonos accessibility debacle. It is often very difficult to get the tech press to cover our issues. I am so grateful that they have.

9 May, now that the inaccessible app is released and there is no doubt about the serious accessibility issues confronting blind Sonos users, I have substantially revised this post.


Update, 3 June 2024


Since last updating this post, Sonos has published some updates to its new app that have improved accessibility with VoiceOver on iOS. I am not in a position to comment on any Android improvements and would welcome Android users updating us by leaving a comment.

As far as I can tell, there is little to no accessibility improvement with the new web interface.

We are now at the point where while the iOS app may not be as efficient or accessible yet as the previous iteration, it is for the most part useable. This is relevant for those wishing to purchase the new Sonos Ace headphones or Roam 2, which require the new app. It may also make your life easier if you’re tired of avoiding the “Update All” button in the App Store. You may find the new ap a bit cumbersome, but you can definitely now use it.

There are many efficiencies and improvements that could still be made. Here are a few outstanding issues but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • With such a large, unified screen, the use of headings visible to VoiceOver is essential for efficient navigation. This has yet to be implemented, making finding your way around the app cumbersome.
  • When in a screen containing the Back button, it is not possible to perform a two-finger scrub to return to the previous screen.
  • Many tasks in the app still take several swipes to get through. Given that the app is now all one large screen, this adds to the clutter and inefficiency.
  • It is no longer possible to use the iOS “magic tap” to play and pause the currently focussed room or group.
  • I believe considerable efficiencies could be made if the Actions Rotor were to be implemented, particularly in the System screen.

Sonos are promising steady VoiceOver improvements throughout June, and it is good to see meaningful fixes rolling out.


I appeared on BBC Radio 4’s In Touch programme to discuss the Sonos accessibility debacle. Nick Millington, who is chief innovation officer at Sonos, responded. At a time when trust was starting to be rebuilt, his playing down of the situation was disappointing. In his discussion with peter White, he said in part,

“We released a new version of the app, as he explained, on May 7th. And we realized in the days leading up to that we had on iOS an error which essentially prevented screen readers, the technology that’s used by blind customers to access areas of the app, from directly accessing the UI controls by putting their finger over them, which made it rather cumbersome to use. And so I accept that made it difficult to use the app. We have responded to that with the highest possible speed and released a new version that corrected that basic interaction issue. However, we continue to be working day and night on improving the screen reader support further and hope to see more progress in the coming weeks.”

Nick is referring to explore by touch being broken in the initial release, and it is both true and commendable that a fix to this came very quickly. However, that was but one of several show stopping bugs that made that initial release a disastrous accessibility experience. Others included focus jumping all over the place, and a significant number of unlabelled buttons. This is not the first time Sonos has singled out explore by touch as the thing they regret. If they are suggesting that it was OK for them to have released the highly inaccessible 7 May release if only explore by touch had been working, then they have a lot more to learn about what makes an accessible UX for blind users.

This illustrates how we must continue to insist that actual blind people are involved in the scoping and testing of apps at their alpha stage, long before they make it to the public. Assumptions, no matter how well-intentioned, aren’t sufficient.




The first app update and the AMA

I participated in the Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on the Sonos Community. You can read a summary of it here. If you are interested in this issue and Sonos’s thinking, it’s a good read.

The question I asked in full was:

Hello, thank you for hosting this AMA today.


As a blind person who owns 15 Sonos devices and has respected the company for its commitment to accessibility over the years, I am appalled by the way it has shown such disregard for accessibility.

I and many other blind people reached out to Sonos ahead of the app’s launch, and received the response that basic accessibility was in the initial release.

Fortunately, a blind tester saved access to many of our Sonos systems when he blew the whistle and spread the word that the app was not accessible at all, and that it was impossible to perform essential and basic functions. Sonos misled us, either deliberately or because they did not have actual blind people advising them on accessibility at critical stages. It is accessibility 101 that it is a non-negotiable part of an initial app’s spec, and you build it in as a foundational component of any new app.

Sonos now claims that some of the most serious defects will be corrected in the 21 May release, but hopefully the panel can understand that there are a lot of blind people who can’t trust Sonos anymore. Given that Sonos got it so horribly wrong with this current release, why should we expect anything better in the next?

Will Sonos offer an apology to its blind users and accept that it got this wrong, and will Sonos commit to creating a Chief Accessibility Officer as a tangible commitment to ensuring this never happens again?

Diane Roberts, who is Senior Director of Software Development at Sonos, responded:

Thank you for your heartfelt feedback.


We invested our user experience and engineering energy on supporting VoiceOver throughout this project. Unfortunately near the end, we took our eye off the ball and missed a couple of key bugs. Those bug fixes have been shipped in a release today.


That doesn’t mean we’re done. We have more that we want to do and will do to fine-tune the experience. This is the same kind of fine-tuning we are doing for the visual experience. In a visual UI that means adjusting the gutters between items on screen. In a spoken UI it means adding more hints about how to navigate. We look forward to tweaking those and making the experience get continually better.

I understand that we have to rebuild your trust. We will only be able to do that by improving the experience. Any words we say will be incomplete. I am sorry that we missed this.


Our next step involves building a hearty beta community of vision impaired users. Today we have 30 visually impaired users on the beta of the next version of the app. The next version already has several improvements beyond the bug fixes we shipped today.


I appreciate Diane taking the time to respond. I reiterate that a Chief Accessibility Officer, someone advocating for us on the inside, would be a welcome addition to the Sonos team.

Elsewhere in the AMA, Nick Giannak obtained the useful and encouraging information that almost all of the Sonos iOS app is written in Swift, rather than a generic tool that might pose accessibility problems. This is encouraging for the future, because with a good team of beta testers and compliance with Apple’s Accessibility Guidelines, we should be able to get an experience every bit as good as the previous one.

It is a pity this wasn’t the case from day one, but we are where we are at this point.

I think a little more than better hints are required to fix what is broken. With this new UI, good use of the Actions Rotor, for example, will make a big productivity difference.

I also note that an app update was released today that seems to address some focus and other functionality issues. In my opinion, if you haven’t updated yet it is best to wait a little  longer. We will see what next week’s update brings.


What is Sonos?

Sonos develop a series of high-quality smart speakers and are about to enter the premium headphone market. They are known for their ability to stay in sync throughout your home when the speakers are grouped. Sonos speakers come in a range of form factors, from portable devices all the way to soundbars.

You can send content to all current Sonos speakers via Apple’s AirPlay, and some support Bluetooth. But integral to the Sonos experience is its dedicated app. It is used to add speakers, configure services, set alarms, modify system preferences, search across streaming music services, add frequently used radio stations and more. If you have Sonos devices capable of playing content in Dolby Atmos, you must use the App for the full experience unless you choose to play all your Dolby Atmos content via a TV connected to a Sonos soundbar. This is much less convenient for Apple Music. Sonos Voice Control works, but you may or may not get an Atmos mix of a track you request.

Because the app is critical to the operation of a Sonos network, those of us who are blind and have invested in the ecosystem have done so based on trust. We trust that Sonos will act responsibly, and not release an update to their app which, at worst, would turn the investment blind people have made into unusable paperweights. We rely on Sonos to keep their end of the bargain and ensure that their updates adhere to good accessibility practices so their apps are accessible with screen readers such as VoiceOver on Mac and iOS, Talkback on Android, and various third-party screen readers for Windows.

Unfortunately, Sonos has breached that trust significantly, with a new app released on 7 May US time.

This article outlines the problem and why it is such an egregious act of bad faith on Sonos’s part.

Seeking answers from Sonos

In late-April, Sonos announced a complete rewrite of their mobile apps, due for release on 7 May. They indicated that the separate tabs at the bottom of the app would be gone. Instead, everything will happen on a single screen the user can organise to suit their preferences.

There are certain triggering keywords for those of us who’ve been advocating for accessibility for decades as I have. When Sonos talked of the app being “rewritten from the ground up” and a “new look and feel”, that prompted questions at best, rang alarm bells at worst.

Immediately, the Living Blindfully email box started receiving email from anxious Sonos users, wanting to know whether accessibility had been taken into account.

Some years ago, I wrote a book about Sonos which was responsible for some blind people getting into the ecosystem. I have beta tested for Sonos on and off. But the public announcement was the first time I had heard that work was underway on a new app. So I attempted to find out more.

My hope was that capable blind people had been involved from the early design stages of these new apps, because even if you know a tiny bit about accessibility, you will know that it’s far easier to build it into the foundation of your app rather than try to retrofit it later. Plus, the latter approach usually means accessibility isn’t done for the initial release. That has the effect of turning blind people into second class customers. I was cautiously optimistic given Sonos’s consistent commitment to accessibility in recent years. It is that commitment which has encouraged many blind people to embrace the platform.

Hoping for the best but fearing the worst, on 25 April I wrote to Sonos’s CEO, Patrick Spence, asking if accessibility had been taken into account when designing the new app. I explained the anxiety that was beginning to emerge in the blind community given that no mention had been made by Sonos of accessibility in any communication on the new app.

I also invited him, or a representative of Sonos, onto Living Blindfully so we could talk about Sonos’s ongoing commitment to accessibility.

My hope was that he would redirect the correspondence to someone senior in product development, since a substantive response is beyond the capability of first-level tech support or communications people. I did not receive a reply to that email, and of course it is Patrick’s prerogative not to reply. I wrote to him because he has been helpful in the past.

I then sought answers on the Sonos Subreddit, and was pleased that another blind Sonos user had beaten me to it with a question about screen reader accessibility. The very helpful Sonos staff member answering questions on the Sonos subreddit didn’t have any immediate answers for us on accessibility, which gave me yet another sinking feeling, but he did undertake to research the matter and get back to the two of us who had asked this question.

The response was as follows.

“At launch, the new Sonos app will have basic support for screen readers. We know we have some work to do in this space, and the team wants nothing more than to make sure everyone can enjoy Sonos. Put plainly, accessibility is very important to Sonos.”


Subsequently I have come to understand that this response is the standard response being posted on social media to any blind person who asks this question.

The representative then offered to connect me with someone from the Research Team. I should add that as of 9 May, while I have had some contact with Sonos Product Development that I will detail below, I have not had any discussions about user experience.

Based on the experience of a tester, I sadly came to believe Sonos had overstated the accessibility of the new app. It was a huge gamble to publish the pre-release version of this blog post. In a way, I hoped to be wrong even though I knew I would get flak from certain quarters if I were. But I had confidence in my source, and felt a duty to warn the community so they could choose whether to try the update or not. I also hoped we might successfully appeal to Sonos for more work to be done to ensure the app is useable by all its customers. Given how things have panned out, I am glad I took the risk, and I truly appreciate the kind messages of thanks people have sent.


How bad is it?

When this first came to my attention, the tester who did the right thing and blew the whistle on this issue told me that the app was so suboptimal with VoiceOver that he didn’t know where to start in terms of giving feedback to Sonos. Having now used the app myself, I completely understand. The first time I used the app and started swiping through the controls, I wondered whether the pre-release complaints had been overcooked. If you’re doing a cursory check for VoiceOver compatibility, you might think it’s not all that bad. The issues arise when you actually try to use the app to manage and control your Sonos system. As the original tester who brought this to my attention put it,

“For starters, it is really, really clunky and inefficient. The area where you can see your system, there are 3 or 4 swipes to get between each individual speaker, 5 depending on if it has a battery or not. There’s a button in the main nav bar that says system, but that button goes nowhere, from what I can determine, swiping through lists is basically impossible. They don’t properly scroll, and will randomly just jump you to the top of the screen. By randomly, I mean quite often. Next… You can’t explore the screen by dragging your finger around it. At all. This just simply does not work. It acts as if the screen is blank. There’s no way to navigate the different subsections of the main screen, because of this and just because it’s just all in one huge linear sweep.

There’s so, so much more, but I guess these would be my worst issues.”

I can confirm all that. Focus seems to get stuck. It is often impossible to tell what is selected and what is not. When you drill deeper into the app, for example to use a specific service, you are plagued with unlabelled controls. The player is difficult to use.

You are welcome to leave comments on this post regarding your experiences, but there is also an excellent AppleVis forum thread chronicling people’s experiences.

A new, much-touted feature is that Sonos has released a web-based app. In time, this is likely to replace the stand-alone desktop apps. The Windows app has been quite accessible, but the mac app has been inaccessible. With adherence to accessibility standards as a foundational, non-negotiable requirement of the design spec for this project, this app could have been accessible from day one. Instead, when browsing your list of configured services, all the icons are spoken by a screen reader as “content service icon button”. This is rudimentary stuff. Additionally, items to be used as checkboxes are often not using standard HTML checkboxes. There are two ramifications of this. First, a screen reader user can’t navigate between checkboxes, and second, a screen reader can’t determine when they are checked and when they are not.

Even the most brief interaction with a blind tester would have made this serious defect apparent.


A test of ethics

After learning about how bad things appeared to be, I wrote once again to Patrick Spence, so far without receiving a reply, highlighting the seriousness of this issue. For blind people who purchased Sonos in good faith, this situation was threatening to be, and now has become, a debacle and a travesty. I respectfully requested Patrick Spence to do the decent thing, protect Sonos’s brand as a company that cares about accessibility, and put the new app’s release on hold until it is at least no worse than the current app. Treating paying customers in this way just because they’re blind is offensive and wrong. It is also technically inexcusable. If I were Patrick, I would be demanding to know from the person responsible for this project why they have placed Sonos in this invidious position. When you have people already using your products, you don’t do something that makes that product materially worse, and you don’t treat these paying customers as so unimportant that you’ll deliberately choose to get around to it sometime after the damage has been done.

While I have had engagement with Sonos for which I am grateful, I did not receive any reply in response to my attempt to alert the CEO of the accessibility crisis they were falling into. I am aware that several leaders in the blind community from around the world, Government regulators and reasonable, polite blind customers also pleaded for a delay in the release.

Responses from Sonos


On the Sonos Community, participation in which is a little challenging from an accessibility perspective but doable, this thread was started shortly after the new app was announced. A Sonos staff member stated that the app had been tested with VoiceOver, but did not say if this had been an internal test by sighted people or whether blind testers have confirmed the quality of the user experience.

In response to mounting concerns, the same Sonos staff member responded,

“I cannot comment on Beta software, and technically, neither can anyone else – Non-Disclosure Agreements are in place! Beta is Beta, however, and it is unfair to judge any software by it’s pre-release version.”

Of course it is true that software improves over time, that is the purpose of beta testing. But given the bad press Sonos are understandably receiving on this issue, I am sure that Sonos would have stated in their Community ahead of release that our concerns were misplaced and that all would be well. They couldn’t, because our concerns were justified. Instead, Sonos sought to shut the discussion down by playing the beta/NDA card.

I responded in the community by saying in part,

“What we know is that in all Sonos’s official communications on the new app, no mention was made of accessibility. Blind people had to come to this community, to Reddit, and to social media to ask the question. After doing so, there was quite a delay until Sonos provided an answer, meaning that accessibility isn’t exactly top-of-mind during this creation process.


Next, we have a user who, yes, while probably breaching NDA, felt so overwhelmed by the user experience for VoiceOver users with the iOS app that he didn’t know where to begin reporting the issues.


Whistle blowing is a perfectly reasonable response when a vulnerable part of the userbase may be adversely affected.


You can of course play the NDA card, but here’s the thing. App updates at least on iOS are a one-way trip. I suspect our Android friends are far better off in this regard and can get the old app back if they need to, unless subsequent Sonos firmware updates require the use of the new app.


I note the NDA card wasn’t played when Sonos produced YouTube videos showing people the new app. If that’s acceptable for sighted people, why isn’t something equivalent acceptable for blind people? If Sonos really has this under control, why not have a capable screen reader user demonstrate that the app has in fact substantially improved since that tester had such an overwhelming, disheartening experience?


Sonos appears so disconnected from the blind community that it doesn’t seem to understand what is happening!


So the NDA card is not the right one to play here. At best, Sonos has seriously mishandled quality communication with its blind customers, having not factored accessibility into the comms strategy around the app. At worst, if the released build of the app is as bad as the one this tester used, things are going to get really rocky.”


Here is one of many customer emails that has been sent to Sonos and has been forwarded to me by the sender. It’s courteous and clear.



I understand that a re-designed app for both iOS and Windows is scheduled to be released very soon and have been hearing unsettling rumours about its accessibility to visually impaired users using either VoiceOver on iOS or a similar screenreader under Windows. The rumours say that, in fact, the app is, at the very best, incredibly flaky and inefficient for screenreader users and, at worst, totally unusable due to its inadequacies.

As a Sonos user for around eight years now, I’ve always been impressed by the level of accessibility in both platforms and am, therefore, dismayed to learn that this situation may well be changing.  I have invested thousands of pounds in my speakers and, currently, have 10 scattered around the house with the prospect of them all becoming redundant if the app accessibility is as bad as being reported.

Can you assure me, please, that accessibility testing by a totally blind screenreader user has been carried out and that the app is, in fact, fully accessible and, just as important, usable?

If there are any doubts as to its accessibility, I would hope that its launch will be delayed until it is fit for purpose. If, for some reason, it can’t be delayed, can you assure me that we will not be forced to upgrade to the new environment but can continue using the current version until such time as the new app is made fully accessible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards from a worried, totally blind user.”

He eventually received the following response.

“We appreciate the attention given to accessibility concerns when managing the Sonos system. We are committed to improving the new Sonos app, aiming to deliver a more reliable and enhanced experience compared to what the S2 app currently offers.

Support for accessibility controls for the visually impaired is a high priority for Sonos. We are pleased to announce that VoiceOver is integrated into our app experience for iOS users, and Talkback is available for Android users.

While features may not be fully polished yet, we are dedicated to swiftly addressing any shortcomings when our customers reach our support to report their findings. Sonos aims to improve functionality for a smooth and effortless user experience, this includes blind and visually impaired customers.

You also have the option to turn off automatic updates, so you can decide for yourself when to update to the new version, in case you feel more comfortable waiting a bit.

Should you have any further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reply to this message.”

So, no direct answer to the key question about their testing methodology. We just don’t know on what basis they said this app is OK, when screen reader users were warning them ahead of the release that it was not.

After strenuous attempts to get beyond people who were, frankly, just spinning, I did have some constructive dialogue with a senior representative of Sonos the day before the app’s release, and I appreciate it.

Sonos then posted this update on their community. I am linking to it directly so you can post your own comments and questions there if you would like to, and perhaps Sonos will continue to report progress. But I want to highlight a couple of statements in the original post.

Sonos claims, “At Sonos, we take accessibility seriously and aim to build listening experiences that everyone can enjoy.”

I was going to write a lengthy response to this statement given recent events, but recent events speak for themselves without the need for me to make further comment.

They go on to say,

“Following launch, ongoing improvements to the accessibility of the updated mobile app will remain a top priority. A software release available May 21 will improve screen readers so you can select items on screen in any order. Further improvement will be added to the experience regularly until we reach parity with the S2 app by late June.


In the meantime, the Sonos Windows and Mac applications will continue to operate as normal until our new web app has met our accessibility standards.”

Obviously, we’d have all preferred the app to be accessible on day one. It’s a huge letdown and breach of trust. But we are where we are, and all we can hope for now is a prompt resolution. If there are those in countries with strong consumer and disability rights legislation who choose to take legal action, I think that’s totally justified.

My concern now is, can we trust Sonos? Can we believe their promises? These are the same people who promised “basic accessibility” in the first release of the app. I don’t think any self-respecting blind person with knowledge of accessibility would describe the state of the current app is containing “basic accessibility”, because there are essential tasks you cannot perform or verify. So their definition of progress may be different from ours. The only way they can rebuild that trust is if they engage meaningfully with blind end-users who are in a position to make it better. No company is in a position, nor does it have the right, to determine what is best for us.

In my accessibility advocacy, I frequently refer to the concept of equivalency. In other words, if an equivalent user experience were being offered to sighted people, would that be acceptable? Would it even be released?

I am certain that the answer is “no”. If an equivalent user experience from an accessibility perspective wasn’t ready at release time, then the app wasn’t ready for release to anyone.

It is also disappointing to read reference to the Sonos Mac app in their update, since my Mac-using friends tell me that the app is almost completely inaccessible.

Releases and media coverage

The national Federation of the Blind in the United States has issued a press release on this situation. I hope other consumer organisations, and indeed all with an interest in equal access and justice, will express similar public sentiments.

A story also ran on 9to5Mac.

It is my hope that more of the technology press covers this issue and calls Sonos to account. Patrick Spence may be able to hide from the blind community. It will be harder to hide from the media. So, if you have email addresses for tech journalists, please contact them.

I will be interested to see if this issue becomes the topic of a resolution at this year’s National Convention.


Regressions in the old app

In the earlier version of this post, I offered step-by-step instructions for disabling automatic updates, so you could at least temporarily, hopefully, preserve the accessible experience. If you didn’t follow those instructions at the time and you have automatic updates turned on, that ship will have sailed and you are likely to have the new app by now.

This was always a hopeful scenario given how much occurs server-side with apps like this. This morning, the accessible Sonos app made Apple Music inaccessible for at least some of us. There are many elements that no longer speak, even in the app that was once accessible. These include playlists, album names, and station names. I have not yet had the opportunity to investigate all other services, but what is clear is that staying with the old app does not guarantee the accessible experience you were used to.

However, speaker grouping and management is still accessible, and right now that’s a win in a difficult week of accessibility losses for the products we paid for.


Once again, we are reminded of just how precarious accessibility is, how it has always been hard-fought for and how we can never take it for granted. It is such a shame, but nevertheless a bitter reality, that disregard for accessibility from a company can literally overnight turn equipment you’ve paid for and used for years into a nightmare. I have fifteen Sonos devices as part of my network at the moment, so it represents a significant upheaval. This was absolutely avoidable with good UX design practice and proper engagement with the blind community at the right time. The right time was at the very beginning of the project.

I know some people are tempted to take their business elsewhere. I don’t blame you. But I have a lot invested in Sonos. I like the ecosystem. I intend to be a squeaky wheel until we have the same level of access we had before. Accessibility is a human right. Human rights sometimes need to be defended. This is one of those times.

Meanwhile, there are people who, for very good reason, feel aggrieved, neglected and disrespected. I pleaded with Sonos’s CEO to stop this inequitable process when he had the chance. He did not. Now, I believe Sonos’s blind users are owed a public apology.

17 Comments on “Sonos has broken accessibility for its blind users. Now they must repair the app and repair trust

  1. When I learned of this on 2 May, I also wrote to the Sonos CEO pointing out the perceived problems with the new environment; similarly, I have not yet had a response. I would urge all to write to in a clear, assertive but definitely non-aggressive manner stating their situation and pointing out that their thousands of investment is about to become redundant unless we manage to stop the update process. I, too, have requested that the launch of the new app be deferred until accessibility is fixed.

  2. Just to complete the picture, if you’re using Android – don’t forget you can disable updates on an app-by-app basis.
    To do this, locate the Play Store entry for the app whose auto updates you want to disable (in this case Sonos), double tap the More Options button (represented visually as 3 dots) in the top right hand corner of your screen, and uncheck the Enable auto updates check box by double tapping it.
    If you want to turn off auto updates for all apps, go into play Store, double tap on the button in the top right hand corner of your screen which lets you know which account you’re signed into, double tap on Settings, double tap on Network Preferences, Double tap on Auto update apps and double tap on the radio button labelled Don’t auto update apps.

  3. Unfortunately, this seems to happen to apps all over free or paid. They may start out to be accessible and then slowly become inaccessible overtime and when you write to the developers about it, it can be like pulling teeth. I definitely understand why this is important because it’s related to hardware that we purchased at the same time I just wanted to bring awareness to the fact that to me at least this is not super surprising and that it happens all across the board every single day

  4. Very glad I didn’t invest in the Sonos ecosystem. I’m sorry for everyone who has. Sonos does really seem like a nice company with a lot of cool products, so it’s a shame they’re doing something like this.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I have invested in the Sonos ecosystem and am extremely disappointed to hear about this. I have also written to the CEO. Hopefully if enough of us send messages, they will hear us.

  6. This is why beta testing is so important. And it makes me think that when products are solely dependent on an app to operate these products, this may come with possible risks. There were issues with the last SiriusXM app, and when I wrote to the developer, VoiceOver was working much better after fixes came out. So, I think we need to give it a chance. And remember everyone, just like the issue with Voice Dream Reader, things could have been handled much, much differently.

  7. Thank you for the heads up. We do have multiple Sonos devices in our house and had we not received this, we would be in a very sorry situation today. I will also be writing to the CEO. We all need to do this.

  8. Really disappointed with this update and its such a shame the app wasn’t properly tested with voiceover and the like before launch. I’m lucky enough to have more than one device I can control my system with but for me anyway the updated app is pretty much unusable. I hope fixes are forthcoming but I fear it will take some time for the app to become as fully accessible as the previous iteration. I am an accessibility consultant in the UK and have beta tested for Sonos in the past but had no idea about this new update until the announcement a few weeks ago. Like many others I have e-mailed the CEO and I hope Sonos will keep us posted on this but time will tell…

  9. The new app is dreadful from an accessibility point of view. How Sonos could have claimed basic functionality with VoiceOver beggars belief. From commments on the Sonos forum, it seems other functions on the app are broken or have been removed. The truth is, this app should never have been released in its current state.

  10. I came across this post from the Sonos forum. I’m hating the new app, and my experience with Sonos this week is 1000 times worse than it was last week. But that’s clearly nothing compared to what people living with vision impairment are experiencing.

    I’m so sorry to hear this, and your blog post is really heartfelt and articulate and I feel your pain. It’s very sad that your experience with this so called “update” is clearly much worse because of their lack of concern with accessibility – and I don’t know why Sonos don’t seem to care.

  11. Thanks for posting this. Unfortunately, I only saw this after I did the upgrade. I now find the app is completely unusable. Not only can you not explore the screen via moving your finger around, you cannot follow links. As a software developer with over 35 years of development experience, I can say with confidence either Sonos did not test the app with VoiceOver (most likely) or their testing was perhaps some of the worst I’ve ever heard of. My sighted wife tried to use the app with VoiceOver enabled (she is familiar with the different gestures used in VO) and she couldn’t get the app to work at all. Even if a sighted user had tested while running the app, they would have seen how bad it was. I have written to the CEO and willl attempt ot be at theAMA

  12. I took PTO from work today to attend the AMA event only to find out I cannot access the link to listen and questions will be answered based on votes on a system where the reaction buttons are inaccessible. What a mess! Did anyone ever find the link?

    • Hi Darrell,

      The AMA was not formatted as a webinar or any type of listener experience. It was just a topic started on the Sonos community forum where customers could ask questions and receive replies from Sonos staff in the thread. The AMA format was not communicated, and there were no responses to questions until around 45 minutes in. This left everyone confused, disoriented, and distressed. That’s putting it nicely.

      Here’s the link to the thread:

      Here’s a link to a recap thread where they sum things up and give just the questions and answers so no one has to crawl through 769 replies:

      Diane Roberts answered Jonathan Mosen’s question regarding accessibility. I’ve pulled that from the recap below.

      Jonathan Mosen said:
      Sonos now claims that some of the most serious defects will be corrected in the 21 May release, but hopefully the panel can understand that there are a lot of blind people who can’t trust Sonos anymore. Given that Sonos got it so horribly wrong with this current release, why should we expect anything better in the next?
      Will Sonos offer an apology to its blind users and accept that it got this wrong, and will Sonos commit to creating a Chief Accessibility Officer as a tangible commitment to ensuring this never happens again?
      Diane said:
      Thank you for your heartfelt feedback. 
      We invested our user experience and engineering energy on supporting VoiceOver throughout this project. Unfortunately near the end, we took our eye off the ball and missed a couple of key bugs. Those bug fixes have been shipped in a release today.
      That doesn’t mean we’re done. We have more that we want to do and will do to fine-tune the experience. This is the same kind of fine-tuning we are doing for the visual experience. In a visual UI that means adjusting the gutters between items on screen. In a spoken UI it means adding more hints about how to navigate. We look forward to tweaking those and making the experience get continually better.
      I understand that we have to rebuild your trust. We will only be able to do that by improving the experience. Any words we say will be incomplete. I am sorry that we missed this.
      Our next step involves building a hearty beta community of vision impaired users. Today we have 30 visually impaired users on the beta of the next version of the app. The next version already has several improvements beyond the bug fixes we shipped today.

      Here’s another article from The Verge summarizing the AMA:

      I’m glad we at least got an accessibility specific response, but I’m honestly not impressed with how this whole thing went down. Again, I’m being nice. If I weren’t being nice, I’d call it a circus.

  13. I should’ve linked to Page 1 of the full thread for anyone who is interested in reading as much of it as they can. I accidentally linked to a random page. My bad. It’s messy in there. There were suspicions voiced by other community members that comments may have been deleted or edited by Sonos staff. Hopefully that isn’t true, but it’s worth noting.
    Link to Page 1:

    • Just to be fair, and I hardly think Sonos deserves much fairness right now, I was noticing some of the comments in that thread getting quite spicy, so it would be understandable if some got deleted for profanity or other similarly unprofessional content.