That NFB Resolution
In writing this post, I do so fully recognizing that I’m on a hiding to nothing, and I should probably leave well alone. There is an ugly mob mentality that can easily get going when social media turns on an individual or organization, and it’s a phenomenon that has been the fascinating subject of entire books.
But after initially deciding to sit out the latest NFB Resolution controversy, I decided I was being morally complicit in the mob mentality by not having the courage to share my own story and views. I was also encouraged to write this because of an amicable and reasonable Twitter exchange I had with someone whose views are not identical to mine. It made me realise that there still may be reasonable people who might appreciate a different perspective on this issue. So, for better or worse, here goes.
In case you’ve been fortunate enough to be under a rock and off the grid, the National Federation of the Blind has just concluded its 2016 convention. NFB are a consumer organization that also provides services, now extending to the development of assistive technology that runs on a range of platforms including iOS.
Resolutions can be proposed by any member. They are first discussed at the Resolutions Committee. The Resolutions Committee then votes on whether they should be discussed by the Convention, which is the supreme governing and policy-making body of the organisation. So if you pay your subscription, you too could propose a resolution next year.
The following resolution was proposed, and ultimately adopted by NFB.
Regarding Apple’s Inadequate Testing of Software Releases
WHEREAS, Apple, Inc. has made VoiceOver, a free and powerful screen-access program, an integral part of many of its products, including the Apple Macintosh, iPhone, iPod Touch, Apple TV, and iPad; and
WHEREAS, when a significant software update for one of these products is released, there are often accessibility bugs that impact the usability of the product by blind users, causing them to lose their productivity or their ability to perform certain job duties when the use of Apple devices is required; and
WHEREAS, recent updates have included a large number of serious, moderate, and minor bugs that have made it difficult or impossible for blind people to perform various tasks such as answering calls, browsing the internet, entering text into forms, or adding individuals to the Contacts Favorites list; and
WHEREAS, for example, after iOS 9.0 was released, some iPhones running VoiceOver occasionally became unresponsive when getting a phone call, and there was no way to choose any option on screen; and
WHEREAS, although this issue was fixed in a new release of iOS, it would not have occurred if Apple had conducted more thorough testing with VoiceOver; and
WHEREAS, another example of inadequate testing by Apple involves VoiceOver failing to render the contents of the screen when a user attempts to add a contact to the Favorites list in the phone app and has multiple contact groups from which to select; and
WHEREAS, because Apple products and its accessibility tools are built by the same company, there is no need to share confidential information with partners that may affect the normal development of the software; and
WHEREAS, we recognize the efforts made by Apple to inform developers about the accessibility features built into Apple products and encourage the company to keep working in that direction; however several accessibility issues still appear with new software releases even when they have been reported during beta testing; and
WHEREAS, it is vital that Apple give priority to addressing bugs that have an impact on accessibility before releasing software updates: Now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind in Convention assembled this fourth day of July, 2016, in the City of Orlando, Florida, that this organization call upon Apple to make nonvisual access a major priority in its new and updated software by improving its testing of new releases to ensure that nonvisual access is not limited or compromised; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon Apple to work actively to incorporate feedback from testers who use VoiceOver during the beta testing phase of software development to ensure that accessibility for blind individuals is fully and properly addressed.
Quality control problems are rampant within Apple, not just where accessibility is concerned, but with software in general. If you take even the most cursory of glances at the technology news, you’ll have seen a number of examples. Most recently, some units of Apple’s latest pride and joy, the 9.7 inch iPad Pro, were bricked by what was supposed to be a minor software update.
Some Sprint users couldn’t connect to LTE after iOS 9.3.
You may remember that a minor update to iOS 8 broke LTE functionality, causing massive problems for those who were unfortunate enough to upgrade before the update was pulled.
The issues with VoiceOver and iOS 9 were just the latest in a series of significant problems over the last few years.
I could go back further, but let’s just look at iOS 8 on release day. There were serious issues affecting the two-finger double-tap when an incoming call was received. Answering a call would not always pause audio that was playing, and the phone could get itself into a state where it was difficult to stop audio without hanging up a call.
Remember the dial pad bug in iOS 8? If you tried to do something as simple as call a number using the phone keypad, it would often get stuck emitting a DTMF tone. Each key you pressed would cause one tone to pile on another.
On iOS 8 release day, Bluetooth keyboard support with VoiceOver on was so unreliable that it was useless for practical purposes.
If you had a Braille display and no Bluetooth keyboard, QuickNav was stuck on, and there was no way you could disable it unless you were able to borrow someone else’s keyboard and pair it, or buy a Bluetooth keyboard expressly to get around Apple’s bug.
When VoiceOver was enabled, Siri would often be cut off in its responses.
And the really big one, VoiceOver was completely broken if you had a Braille display and had chosen a particular configuration for status cells. There was no way to recover from this one without sighted assistance.
Let’s move onto iOS 9. This was the release that the tech press said would be lighter on features because there was a need to make the OS more stable.
Do you remember how flaky Bluetooth keyboard support was for some of us, only when VoiceOver was running? There were times when entering text into an edit field did absolutely nothing. If you were really lucky, turning VoiceOver off and back on again got things working for a while. If you were a little less lucky, but still a bit lucky, rebooting the device would get things working. Still others couldn’t get Bluetooth keyboards working at all, no matter what they did. I remember long, convoluted Twitter discussions as many of us tried to find the variable that would make Bluetooth keyboards work.
Remember the famous iOS 9 focus bug? This was a particular problem in apps where you’d want to return to your previous place, such as Twitter and podcast apps. It made using apps like Twitterific, Tweetings or Downcast a miserable experience, because you couldn’t pick up from where you left off.
There were numerous other ones, but let me be clear that every piece of software ever written has bugs. So I want to focus on the really big one.
As the NFB resolution mentioned, there was the call answering issue, a show-stopper if ever there was one. It saddens me that many of those who were not affected by it trivialize the impact that it had on those of us who were.
To recap, when you received an incoming phone or FaceTime call, VoiceOver became unresponsive. It wasn’t possible to answer a call or navigate the screen. I can tell you that as a business owner and a dad, this was a very high-impact bug, and it was totally unacceptable that the software was released in this state.
Don’t agree? Well, let’s take blindness out of the mix for a bit. What do you think would have happened if even 20% of the entire iPhone user base found after installing iOS 9 that they couldn’t take phone calls anymore? It would be Apple Maps all over again. Apple would have been a laughing stock for making a phone that doesn’t even let you…answer the phone! The blind business owner who relies on their iPhone to get their sales leads, the blind attorney who needs to hear from their office, the blind parent who needs to be able to pick up a call from their kid, they’ve all paid exactly the same money for their iPhone as anyone else. And if it’s unacceptable for sighted people to be unable to answer their phone, not just occasionally but always, then allowing software to go out that makes it impossible for numerous blind people to answer the phone is an act of discrimination. It’s not deliberate, it’s not wilful, but discrimination need not be deliberate or wilful for discrimination to have taken place. We have enough barriers and ignorance to overcome without these sorts of preventable barriers getting in our way. These devices aren’t toys, they’re now an essential tool in our productivity armoury for many of us.
I have seen it suggested that this serious call answering bug was introduced late in the beta cycle, too late for Apple to do anything about. This is unequivocally false, and I’m going to give you dates to back that statement up. First, a bit of background.
I believe in trying to make constructive, positive contributions where that’s an option. All the way back in iOS 7, many of us had become troubled by the dwindling quality control of Apple’s accessibility offerings. To try to make a positive difference, I set up a private email list of registered blind Apple developers. The idea was, and is, that we compare notes and try to find steps to reproduce a bug, so we can lodge the most accurate bugs we can with Apple. Incidentally, the very accessibility of lodging bugs has varied a lot over the years from the excellent to the near impossible.
This email list means that I can tell you exactly when I became aware of the serious call answering bug. Bonnie and I were married on 27 June last year. I therefore refrained from installing the iOS 9 beta on my main device until we were back from our honeymoon. On 4 July, I first reported issues with answering calls. By that stage, we were only at iOS 9 beta 3. I suspect that if the bug was present early on in the cycle like that, it was present from the beginning. Certainly it was present in early July, a full two-and-a-half months before iOS 9 was officially released.
When I lodged the bug, I gave it the highest priority I could, stressing emphatically what a show stopper this one was. I was also able to make it clear, because of the private email list I run, that it was affecting some people, but not others. Some people with the same model phone as I had were affected, while other users of the very same model were not. I have huge empathy for the Apple quality assurance folks, because a bug like this that affects some people but not others is the absolute worst to track down.
Nevertheless, the software was released in the full knowledge that there were going to be some blind people for whom a core function of the device they paid for was useless. And I would be surprised if I had been the first person to log the issue in early July.
As the resolution also pointed out, Apple is in a unique position, and it’s something they market as a strength. They have full control over all the hardware and the software. They’re not trying to provide access over the top of an operating system, it’s part of the operating system.
iOS 9 was also the first iOS release to go into public beta. As I blogged when that move was announced, having more data to draw from isn’t going to help if quality assurance isn’t resourced appropriately.
And really, this is all the resolution is saying. I can’t speak for its drafters, but I can say that I’m not for one second suggesting that Apple is lessening its commitment to accessibility, far from it. If you’ve got your hands on iOS 10 already, you’ll know that it’s packed with some cool new accessibility features, some of which I’ve been wanting for years.
I don’t question for a single second that everyone at Apple has a deeply entrenched, profound commitment to accessibility, and through it, to making the world a better place. They sure have changed my life for the better, and chances are, if you’re reading this, they’ve changed yours too.
But surely dialogue in our community hasn’t descended to the notion that unless you’re totally for Apple, you’re against them? Clearly, Apple continues to have quality control issues across the board. You’d have to be pretty blinkered not to acknowledge that. In my view, it’s not that anyone there isn’t truly dedicated or competent, but there clearly seems to be a resource shortfall in quality assurance.
Many users of Apple’s tech, from a range of perspectives, have said similarly, and I for one am glad that the NFB has reminded Apple and the wider public of how vulnerable we blind people are when quality assurance is under-resourced. We’re a small population, and bugs that have a tiny impact on the user base overall can have a debilitating impact on us.
It’s been said by some that NFB seems to be picking on Apple, perhaps because Apple doesn’t engage with our community in the same way other companies do.
I don’t always succeed at this, but I find that not much good comes from attributing motive and that it’s best to take an argument on its merits if possible. As someone very badly hit by the phone answering bug, I felt heard, understood, relieved that finally someone was speaking up for me. It’s also natural that with Apple having done so well, more blind people are using Apple mobile devices than any other type. With that success inevitably comes greater scrutiny.
However, I’d like to have been spoken up for in other ways as well. I’m an Android user now, and would use Android more if it weren’t for the abysmal state of support for my primary medium, Braille. NFB has championed Braille over the years, and a resolution letting Google know in no uncertain terms that they must do better would be both welcome and overdue.
Technology plays such a big part in all of our lives now, that I suspect there are a number of cases where we’d like to see tech companies do much better. Perhaps Americans who feel this way will put forward their own resolutions next year. I don’t believe that the absence of these resolutions in any way invalidates the strength of the resolution that was adopted, but when we as blind people call for truly equitable access, I do think that such calls should also be equitably distributed.
NFB said something that clearly needed to be said. The impact of unresolved accessibility bugs has been dire for three consecutive major releases now and is symptomatic of a wider software QA issue. In constructively pointing out the need for meaningful dialogue and timely resolution, that doesn’t preclude us from celebrating the revolution Apple has brought about, for which they deserve warm congratulations.
And despite the strong market share of mobile devices Apple enjoys in our community, it is critical that we also focus on other players who are not doing so well, so that like everyone else, we as blind people truly can choose the technology we use based on preference and need.
Many thanks for providing a considered and well thought out response to the resolution.
I’d like first to say that I do not disagree with your comments on Apple’s quality control or on the seriousness of the accessibility-related bugs that they allowed to slip into the release cycle. However, I do not believe that NFB should have passed this resolution for three reasons.
Firstly, Apple has in my view done more than any mainstream company to introduce accessibility into their devices. I believe that the priority of NFB and the blindness community should be to target those companies where much more of the device is inaccessible. Despite recent efforts and progress in the right direction, Google, Microsoft and Amazon fall into this category and provide inferior accessibility to Apple. Some, such as Microsoft and Amazon, make the same mistakes time and time again. The inaccessibility of Microsoft Edge mirrored the accessibility of Internet Explorer 4 upon release in the late 90s, and while Amazon fix accessibility in some products, until recently they failed to introduce it particularly in lower end devices.
Secondly and much more seriously, this isn’t just a question of NFB picking on Apple and other companies engaging with the community. Companies such as Amazon provided cold hard sponsorship to NFB at this convention. This means in my view that NFB had a conflict of interest in passing a resolution that mentioned the competitor of some of their key sponsors, without mentioning those sponsors when the accessibility provided by them is still inferior. An While I do not doubt thee integrity of the NFB nor that the drafter of the resolutions had the best of intentions, it’s not just important to do the right thing, but also to be seen to do it. The perception created by this resolution on social media seemed to be that the blind or the NFB can be bought with hush money, if a company does not want to be publicly embarrassed.
Finally, I do not believe the process for passing the resolution was ideal or even democratic. I streamed the session live, and while I wouldn’t want to call which side had the most popular support when people were asked to indicate their preference, it sounded extremely close and those who opposed the resolution would have had a good chance of winning had individuals been allowed to vote. It certainly did not sound like that those in favour of the resolution had the 32-18 majority accorded to it when state representatives, who were under no obligation to poll their attendees, were asked to vote.
I should say also that while I live in the UK, I am an NFB Member at Large so certainly have no axe to grind with the organisation.
My name is Terrell Jones. I completely agree with this resolution. I am a member of the American Council of the blind (I do not like the national Federation of the blind’s policies). Someone needed to speak out and stand up on behalf of the blindness community regarding the bugs in Apple software. For the record, I am a public beta tester of Apple software. I too have seen bugs (so I’m quite serious) in the software. Although the American Council of the blind gave the Apple in award, I feel like they should have done more and also passed a resolution regarding the excess ability bugs that have plagued Apple software.
I myself am still sticking by what I said when I was at the NFB convention. No software release is going to be bug free both in mainstream and/or adaptive technology. As someone who has been beta testing iOS since version 5, I have been and continue to today report bugs. Do I remember such serious bugs like the phone call answering bug in iOS 9? Yes, I do remember this bug. Was it fixed? Yes, it was fixed very early on in the iOS 9 cycle. It was however a difficult bug to track down as I know not everyone experienced this bug. I think the next step now is to have blind people all around the world including those in the NFB to get involved in the beta testing both public and private with Apple developer accounts. We have a window of time here, let’s all test and report and file bug reports. The more that do this and report, the more Apple can hear from us. Then, we can have a stable iOS 10 release, the more that help with this. Will there be bugs, some things that won’t be perfect? Yes, but Apple does listen. We have had quite a few iOS 9 patches and we have seen accessibility fixes. The NFB here I think is being way too critical of Apple in this resolution. Again Jonathan and the world, this is simply my opinion. Let’s all start testing and make iOS 10 as bug free as possible.
Hi Rich, I don’t agree with your assessment of what is required to fix this problem, because what you are suggesting has already been tried and demonstrably hasn’t worked.
Last year, for the first time, more blind people tested iOS than ever before thanks to a public beta cycle, yet some serious bugs, including the very significant call answering issue, were not fixed before release. The issue isn’t that insufficient people are testing, it’s that bugs are being reported but not prioritised by Apple. They are not acting with appropriate speed to the data they already have.
I can only reiterate, if this phone bug had affected sighted people, iOS 9 would not have gone out in that state. Yes, it was fixed eventually, but not before it disrupted the productivity of many blind people who bought their devices in good faith. Apple had ample opportunity to do the right thing, they did not.
Alas, we find ourselves on opposite sides of this issue. Despite my disagreement, I will do my best to be respectful.
I completely agree with Rich’s assessment here, along with just about every other objection to this resolution I’ve seen. It accuses Apple of being particularly aggregious when it comes to quality assurance testing, as if Apple is the only company that does this. Quality assurance testing is a problem across the board, and Apple shouldn’t be singled out for this, not when there are several sponsors on this year’s current NFB roster who have a well-established reputation for skimping on quality assurance testing, including VFO Group, formerly known as Freedom Scientific. Every single screen reader vendor is lax when it comes to bugs reported by web developers, (I’ve personally experienced this as someone who is part of the WordPress accessibility team, and has reported bugs to all three of the commercial vendors, only to either get arguments of not-bug-but-feature quality, with NVDA being the only screen reader to take our bug reports seriously), and Apple is no different. Yet, the others are given a pass, along with Amazon, Google, Oracle, ETC. And in the case of VFO Group, no, I will not join a private beta, agree to an NDA, ETC., and not share bug information with my co-developers. So yeah, if we’re going to complain about quality assurance testing, that complaint needs to be applied across the board, or it has no value. You can’t pick on the popular kid while disregarding the same problem in your own back yard.
Hi Jonathan. I have been coming to NFB conventions for 39 years now and heard a lot of resolutions. This one is I think right on target. It is basically respectful and recognizes the contributions of Apple but simply calls upon them to make accessability a higher priority. Although I respect the difference of oppinion expressed by some on this issue I must agree with this resolution. For those who think we need other resolutions for other problems I’m all for that as well. The way to do this is to write a resolution or find someone who can write one stating the issues as you see them and then work to drum up support for the resolution and present it at the resolutions committee next year. The committee only reviews the resolutions it gets and there was simply not one submitted against Microsoft, Amazon, VFO or anyone else. I think something should have been said about the inaccessibility of Microsoft Edge but did I sit down and write a resolution and lobby my friends to help me push it? No I did not so I have only myself to blaim. If it is the same next year maybe I’ll do it then. I also still think the Braille input system on I devices stinks and was likely not designed by a blind person. This one has been on the gripe list ever since I can remember. Again, did I or anyone else write a scathing resolution taking Apple to task over it? Not me nor anyone else. For those who don’t know how the committee works they will never prevent a resolution from having a hearing on the convention floor. They cannot bottle up a resolution and prevent it from a vote. They do make recommendations to pass or not pass a resolution but the convention is the final arbiter in the matter. I have been present at conventions when a resolution recommended for passage by the committee did not pass and vice versa. And, as for the method for passing a resolution the voting methods used have been the same since the founding of the NFB and generally work as well as can be expected. I also feel that assuming that your particular beef against a company isn’t being covered because the NFB receives sponsorships from it is unfounded and there is no evidence that this is the case. Are we perfect? No but I believe most of us are doing the best we can to help address and solve the problems we face as blind people.
hey guys for those who don’t bother to read, or just won’t read, remember iOS 3, and 4, you know, the golden days of iOS, where stuff got fixed and not wait a year and hope for the best, because if not, then I sure do. so, my question is, if iOS three and four can be fixed, then why is it, in 2016 under iOS nine, some of you, and I happen to know, some go all the way back to the days of iOS three and four, why is it, you can’t be bothered to get on board and ask apple to do the right thing, and you seem to have this apple can do no wrong attitude? I would also like to point out to some who go back to iOS three and four, doesn’t it bother you now, today, in 2016, when you had a problem in iOS three, or four, you could email apple, and get something done about the problem, and not this canned we’ll pass it on thanks for emailing. does this attitude of today bother some of you, because let me tell you something, it sure as hell bothers me, that we don’t have good support for braille displays, apple has not wanted to make braille support better in braille displays, just add whistles and bells, instead of doing the right thing. it bothers me that the deaf blind are just left to fend for them selves and come up with ass backwards, complex, and stupid ways of working with braille displays on iOS. or, what about the college student who need to do work, guess what, we can’t be bothered to fix braille displays, so your just shit out of luck. and as jonathan said, not fixing outstanding bugs make people lose stuff in business. I’m sorry if some of this doesn’t bother some of you, but as a long time iOS and mac user it bothers me to no end.
I agree with Jonathan’s post here. I do use my IPhone for a lot of productivity as I sometimes am not around my computer 24/7. To me, this is vital to be fixed, and not laxed upon. Another bug that all of you might remember is the infamus camera bug. What I mean by this is in iOS 6, the camera used to be able to work with voiceover very well. I remember when Voiceover used to tell us up down, left or right, and when taking panoramic pictures Voiceover used to instruct the user to slow down if going too fast. This definitely does need to fixed and in a hurry. Who remembers some of these things that I’ve mentioned? I also want braille support fixed because I want to be able to fixed editing issues using my cursor routing buttons, and also be able to write in Grade 2 braille.
I helped in checking the grammar of the resolution, spoke in favor of it in the Resolutions Committee, and was prepared to speak on it on the floor had the deiscussion gone further. I am an iPhone user, was pleased to present the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award to Apple, and have credited them many times with making the touchscreen accessible through a paradigm shift that gave hope to many of us who mistakenly thought the touchscreen might mean the death of access.
So I, like others, am glad Apple is making an iPhone that is more accessible than any other off-the-shelf device I know of, but saying thank you doesn’t mean giving up saying something when I am let down. I developed software for most of my working life, and in the shops we had show stoppers–problems that would cause enough inconvenience of lack of functionality that we would fix them before release. This should have been a show stopper.
Several of my good friends argued that we should not pass the resolution because Apple has an active beta program that involves the blind. Certainly this is to Apple’s credit, but what good is having input if that input doesn’t matter in Apple’s output. I can tell the president of the United States that he should enact regulations spelling out what it takes to be accessible when developing and marketing computer programs, and he will send a letter back acknowledging my letter. Yes, I’m glad this happens, but if the regulations don’t get into the law books, how am I really helped?
I believe that in passing this resolution we actually did accessibility advocates at Apple a favor. Companies need to know that there is a constituency for the products they manufacture, and our silence on the issues addressed in the resolution would simply serve to paint the accessibility advocates within Apple as a group whose efforts are mostly aimed at a silent and insignificant minority. We owe the people who work in accessibility better.
I think our resolution was straightforward, understandable, and ever so polite. I was glad to cast the vote from Missouri in favor of it. Although a delegate is not bound by those attending from his state, the logic being that he represents more than just the men and women who can afford to come to convention, the truth is that in our delegation the vote was 14 to 1 in favor of the resolution.
I thank you for writing what you did. I thank you for daring to speak up. I thank you for standing on the side of civility, factual assertions, and reasonable demands from a population which has every right and every obligation to speak to what it needs in the world.
First I just want to take the time and thank you for writing this blog post. I just stumbled on your website recently and appreciate all your insight on not only Apple products, but also everything else you have written on. This post will be a bit long but bare with me.
And now my own take on this NFB resolution: I got my first Iphone in December of 2009. I saw the beginning, all the way up to the present day. Apple did something remarkable in 2009, they proved to the world that touchscreens could indeed be made accessible to totally blind people. In versions of IOS up to version 6, Voice Over performed exeptionally well. The system was lightning fast. Were there bugs? Yes. They did however seem to get fixed in a much more timely manner in the beginning than they have in recent years. I remember using the camera for the first time and thinking, wow what an awesome experience. Point it at anything, wait a second or 2 and speech would say, auto focus. Later on, they added the ability for Voice Over to speak the number of faces and their positions in the frame. Also, the panorama function integrated with Voice Over such that speech feedback was given in real-time while moving the camera for example, move up, slow down, move left/right. Such functionality was diminished in IOS 7, and has not been fully restored. The face detection still functions, but speech no longer tells me when the camera is auto focused, and the live panorama feedback does not function either. I am very passionate about Braille. It is my primary way to communicate. Braille support has been in IOS for several years now. I happened to own a Braille Sense that the state of Texas bought for me during my time in college. I will not state the obvious about Braille contracted input as it has been spoken of in many places already. All I will say on the subject is, find me a sighted person that would accept an edit mode where they could not edit in the middle of a word. Further more, this person would also need to type farely fast, and if they did not, then IOS would automatically fill in what it thinks they want, and the only way to fix it is to delete the current word and start over. Fortunately for me, the Braille Sense has clipboard mode. For those not familiar, clipboard mode presents a standard edit box on the note taker itself to type text, and edit as one sees fit. Once finished, space with enter sends the text to IOS, Android, ETC. What about people who don’t have Hims products. They just have to suffer with the lack luster Braille input support. What about the deaf blind? They do not have the luxury of using speech. The current Braille support really needs to improve not just for the blind, but for our deaf blind friends who rely on Braille as their only means of communication. For those who have the attitude of Braille isn’t important because I don’t use it, I have a message for all of you. Some of us need to use it. Some of us are in places where speech is not adaquate, for example a class, a meeting, ETC. In my case, I just flat out refuse to put headphones on just because I want to use Braille only. Improvements must be made to Braille support. The blind, as well as the deaf blind deserve much better that what is currently available in the Braille department. Also, the speed of Voice Over was much faster in IOS versions before IOS 7. Since IOS 7, Voice Over has seemed to have a slight lag when moving around, and when the screen is locked it seems to take an exeptionally long time between the sound of the screen lock and when speech says screen locked. Coming from the beginning, it bothers me, not 1 or 2 issues in particular, but just all of these as well as other less serious bugs banking up over time.
I say all of that to say this. While I am not in total agreement with everything the NFB has passed over the years, I do believe that this resolution has its place. I am not saying Apple should be singled out as the one who gets bad press. There is certainly more than enough room for Google and Microsoft to be answering about their own accessibility. I am however, saying that in the case of the camera, that functionality has been broken since IOS 7. Braille output has been good, but Braille input has been lack luster and has not improved. It is time that something be said about these things. When the beta of IOS 8 came out for public testing, I was on Android at the time. I was so taken aback by the horrors of that version that, when I did go back to an Iphone, I was scared away from testing IOS 9. I am however, going to be running the public beta of IOS 10, and will be reporting things to Apple as I find them.
I think there is definitely a need for better quality control, and I do see where this resolution is coming from in terms of insisting on high standards from Apple. Delaying an iOS release due to an accessibility bug would generally be a hard sell, but with Apple’s commitment to accessibility it might be reasonable. My main issues with the resolution have been mentioned here already: the perception that companies with inferior accessibility can sponsor the NFB convention and get a pass, and the process of voting on these resolutions not being very democratic. As far as the first point, these resolutions are put forth by members. I know that some members have already mentioned that they intend to draft resolutions against Google, Microsoft etc. next year. We will just have to see if they are allowed to go to the convention, and hopefully those perceptions will be proven wrong. As of now though, given that the NFB hasn’t given Apple an award for their efforts since 2010, and since then has passed four resolutions targeting them, I can see why the community is frustrated.