Apple provides iTunes functionality for the blind

29 Sep 2008

With the recent release of iTunes 8.0 Apple provided much improved accessibility features, but has promised to make both the iTunes Store and application fully accessible by 30 June 2009 on both the Mac and Windows operating systems.

In the meantime, full accessibility for those with both sight and navigational impairment will be in place for the iTunes U section by 31 December 2008.

ITunes U is a free educational podcast platform, which features the likes of Trinity College Dublin. Universities and educational institutes from around the world provide free lectures and public talks in a free subscription model for students to download and listen to on their MP3 player or PC.

“By making its extremely popular iTunes service fully accessible to the blind, Apple is setting an example that should be followed by the entire information technology industry,” said Dr Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind in the US.

As part of this initiative, Apple will be working with the US National Federation of the Blind and the Massachusetts Attorney General to make sure that accessibility for the blind will remain an ongoing priority and will be updated as needed, as well as providing funding of US$250,000 to the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind for assisting adaptive technologies in this area.

“Computer technology is a critical means of access to business, education, information and entertainment in the 21st century, and the blind must have equal access if we are to be equal participants in society,” added Dr Maurer.

By Marie Boran