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Apple Mum on VoiceOver Accessibility of Mac App Store and OS X Lion for Blind Customers

October 20, 2010 • Darrell Shandrow

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said nothing in his Wednesday Back to the Mac event about continued VoiceOver accessibility of a new Mac App Store and OS X Lion operating system for the company’s blind customers.

The new Mac App Store will offer iTunes-style one-click purchasing and installation of apps for the Macintosh computer operating system. Developers will be able to start submitting apps in November and the store’s grand opening is scheduled for Jan. 20.

A member of Apple’s accessibility team declined to comment on the status of VoiceOver accessibility in the Mac App Store.

“Since the Mac App Store is not available to the public and all features have not been announced, we can not comment on it any further,” said an unnamed member of Apple’s accessibility team.

Apple also has no comment on continued integration of the VoiceOver screen reader on the company’s new OS X Lion operating system slated for a summer 2011 release.

“As Steve said in today’s keynote, the features discussed were a ‘Sneak Peek’ into just a few of the new features being added to Mac OS X,” the unidentified accessibility team member said. “As I am sure you already know, Apple can not comment on pre-release software. Not all features are complete, and any part of it may still change.”

Blind computer science student and registered Apple iOS developer Kevin Chao said he’s not surprised at Apple’s silence on accessibility plans.

“I don’t really blame them,” Chao said. “If they say something now, they can be held accountable. Usually, they don’t talk.”

“By listening to our customers and applying thoughtful solutions to previously unsolvable problems, Apple continues to set a high standard for accessibility,” states Apple’s accessibility website. “Inventions such as braille mirroring, which enables deaf and blind kids to work together on the same computer at the same time; the world’s first screen reader that can be controlled using gestures; and captioning of downloadable digital movies are perfect examples of Apple innovation.”

It is anticipated that Apple will continue these accessibility commitments and innovations into its next operating system and far beyond.

Categories: Apple

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