Some of you may be aware of the current situation regarding the Flicktype app and how the author of this app has chosen to discontinue development due to a series of unhelpful responses from Apple regarding its reasons for not approving a Flicktype update. This has sadly led to a communications breakdown. Apple’s heavy-handed approval process nearly caused the end of the Blindfold Games apps several years ago and has now likely resulted in the elimination of a truly unique accessibility solution for blind users. For details on this situation you can read the transcript of episode 144 of the Mosen at Large Podcast. Jonathan Mosen provides an excellent explanation of the events that have recently transpired between Apple and the developer of Flicktype.
Apple claims that they have a commitment to accessibility. If this is true it means more than just releasing products that are accessible to people with disabilities. It also means supporting the community of developers who are also releasing apps to enhance accessibility. Clearly, Apple has demonstrated that they are not always willing to keep to this commitment.
I believe that blind Apple users of this app need to make their voices clearly heard about this and I don’t mean complaining about the situation to one another as that will accomplish nothing.
What follows is an email which I have sent to Phil Schiller. To quote this page from Apple’s Web site:
“Phil Schiller is an Apple Fellow, responsible for leading the App Store and Apple Events.Phil has helped guide Apple’s products and marketing for 30 years, most recently as the senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. Over the course of his tenure, Phil has helped the company create the best computers in the world with the Mac, lead the digital music revolution with iPod and iTunes, reinvent mobile phones with iPhone and the App Store, and define the future of mobile computing with iPad.”
I would encourage all who are affected by what is happening with the Flicktype app to email Mr. Schiller by using the address schiller @apple.com. (The extra space has been added to eliminate spam.)
Here is the email which I have sent.
Dear Mr. Schiller,
I am visually impaired and have been using the iPhone with VoiceOver since 2014. As someone who has also been working in the assistive technology field for over three decades I have had many opportunities to provide training to other blind iPhone users and have recommended Apple as a company that should be seriously considered due to what I once believed was their strong commitment to accessibility. However, this latest situation with Apple not allowing updates to Flicktype to be accepted into their app store has caused me to seriously reevaluate this position. Flicktype is truly a unique accessibility solution and there is truly no other app of its kind. It permits people, blind or sighted, to effortlessly and accurately type text onto their touch screen without the need to focus as to whether or not the correct keys are being pressed. For Apple to not allow this update to be released into the App Store for totally invalid reasons is a complete disgrace and only hurts customers by eliminating yet one more important and unique accessibility option. I used to always choose Apple over Android devices due to Apple’s unique and robust accessibility options along with the fact that Apple’s accessibility solutions seemed to be way ahead of Android. However, this is becoming no longer the case as Android is now catching up and offering equally robust and efficient choices for customers who require accessibility solutions. If this situation is not resolved promptly I will be switching to Android for my next phone upgrade and will be informing those in the blindness community about my decision and why I have made it.
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019
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