Accessibility

As a young developer I didn’t pay that much attention to accessibility. I figured that most people didn’t need those features, and it was something I could get to later. Plus: adding those features wasn’t easy back in those days.

Things have changed.

For one thing, supporting accessibility features — at least on Macs and iOS — has gotten much easier. It’s almost delightful with how much you get for free and how easy it is to add what’s missing. Apple deserves a huge amount of credit for this.

But there are two bigger things I keep thinking of.

First thing: I want to say that access to computing and communications power is a human right. It’s not, not really — but it would be wrong to deny someone access when, with a little extra work, you could make it work for them.

(Would you be lost without your iPhone? I would be.)

Second thing: accessibility is not just for some small number of people with one specific issue. It’s a diverse set of features and solutions. And everybody — even the youngest and healthiest of us — will eventually rely on some accessibility features if they live long enough.

You may not need it now, in other words, but you will, if you’re lucky. And future-you will be proud of past-you if you cared about it before it was personal.

It’s personal to me now, by the way, at age 49: I use the Dynamic Type feature on my iOS devices to bump up the font size. Though I run into layout bugs from time to time (reported: rdar://34791630), I’m still utterly grateful that the feature exists and that so many developers have adopted it (or done the equivalent in their apps).

Without that feature I’d be an iOS programmer who has a hard time actually using an iPhone. Which would be dumb.

03 Oct 2017

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