So, I was working with a student who is blind, and has never used an iPhone before, and never saw the iPhone screen or layout. Tutorials are so very important for new users of, probably anything. Apple should have had a tutorial for VoiceOver on the iPhone from the start. TalkBack had a tutorial, and it's one thing Google has gotten very right. There's even a tutorial for all of the new features, and the Braille keyboard even! With VoiceOver, the onscreen braille keyboard there may as well be a "hidden" cheat code for all that it is mentioned anywhere in VoiceOver's UI (settings). So, those who are newly blind may only be able to make calls and send and receive messages. And if they get a call? Well, they'll just have to call back. And when they want to end a call? Well... Gotta wait until someone else ends it or the battery goes dead. I mean, I love teaching these people, I really do. I'm not complaining about that at all. But Apple doesn't make it any easier, when they well could.
I mean, so many blind people own iPhones. How many don't know about the Braille Screen Input feature? How many who used to could see don't know about the handwriting feature? How many don't know about the "Magic Tap"? All because Apple just doesn't give them any information. So every time I go to a presentation style meeting on Assistive Technology, all people really want to hear about is the iPhone? And I used to think it was dumb, like "I mean gosh don't y'all know enough about the iPhone?" But now I see why; it's because they don't. And they've been left in the dark about it so long that even *after* they've learned what they need, they think "What else is hidden from me? What else did Apple not tell me?" And that's a shame.
And, while I know some of it is users not feeling comfortable venturing outside of what they know, and digging into VoiceOver settings, or reading the iPhone user guide, it's also on Apple to at *least* get people started. After all, how would they browse the web to Apple's accessibility site without knowing how to use Safari? How would they read the iPhone user guide without knowing how to navigate to the Books app, open it, search for the book, get the book, open the book, and read the book?
Hot take: Android phones are better for blind beginners than iPhones. Every TalkBack feature is conveyed through the tutorial, every UI element is shown and navigated to using exploration or swipes/flicks, and midrange phones are getting very good these days I hear, so a blind user, who may only live on SSI/SSDI (social security checks), may more easily afford a great midrange phone. Of course there is the iPhone SE, but you know, no tutorial and all that. And what if a blind user doesn't live near a training center, or doesn't feel comfortable with their blindness enough to go to a "blindness" center? They're stuck, as far as I can tell. Oh and the new gestures for getting to the home screen and such. That'll be easy for a brand new iPhone user to do.
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