Music lovers who are blind or vision-impaired can now enjoy iTunes and iPod nano in an entirely new way.
VoiceOver on iPod nano
iPod nano includes VoiceOver, the gesture-based screen reader that lets visually impaired users browse and select songs without viewing the screen. Instead, you’ll hear a synthesised voice speaking the names of menus, songs and artists. Touch the screen to hear a description of the item under your finger, then double-tap, drag or flick to control iPod nano. Use the optional Apple Earphones with Remote and Mic to control your music without looking at the screen. VoiceOver tells you the name of the song or artist — and it speaks 29 languages.
When you’re listening to music on iPod nano, the Mono Audio feature plays both stereo left and right audio channels in each earbud.
White on Black
If you prefer higher contrast, iPod nano (6th generation) lets you change the display to white on black. Use the White on Black feature in any application, as well as the Home screen and VoiceOver.
High-Contrast Screen and Backlight
iPod nano features a high-resolution LCD display with adjustable brightness settings that make it easy to read, even in low-light conditions.
Accessibility in iTunes 10
iTunes 10 is screen-reader friendly. On a Mac using Mac OS X Leopard or later, it’s compatible with VoiceOver; on a PC using Windows XP or Windows Vista, it’s compatible with GW-Micro Window-Eyes 7.0.
For those who are blind or have a vision impairment, screen readers provide spoken descriptions and full keyboard control as an alternative to using a mouse. Screen readers use a speech engine to synthesise spoken descriptions that explain what’s taking place on the computer screen. While customers using Windows PCs typically purchase screen readers separately, Mac computers with Mac OS X v10.4 or later include a fully featured, built-in screen reader called VoiceOver.
On a Mac, iTunes 10 works in conjunction with VoiceOver to provide full keyboard control and spoken audio descriptions. iTunes also works with the other built-in Universal Access features of OS X, including Zoom, Sticky Keys and Mouse Keys. The Universal Access features work in conjunction with VoiceOver to suit your specific needs.
Thanks to its support for Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA), iTunes 10 for Windows can be used with screen readers for Windows, but to take advantage of this support, screen reader developers may have to update their applications. Apple recommends using GW-Micro Window-Eyes 7.0, which is sold separately, on Windows XP (Service Pack 3).
With iTunes 10, you can use a screen reader to browse the iTunes Store and shop for music, films, TV programmes, audiobooks, free podcasts and other content. A number of areas in the iTunes Store have been enhanced for accessibility, including the iTunes Store home page, iTunes U, Podcasts, Music, Audiobooks, Films, TV Programmes and Music Videos, among others. On the home page, you’ll find links to the Top Films, Top Songs, Top Albums and similar content. And since even the sign-up process is now accessible, you can create an iTunes account without sighted assistance.
To make browsing with a screen reader easier, the iTunes Store uses headers, links and form controls — terms and landmarks you’ve already become accustomed to while browsing web pages.
If you can’t immediately find a song, album or artist you’re interested in, you can use the search feature on the iTunes Store to find and display a matching list of songs, films, TV programmes and other content based on the criteria you enter. For more complex searches, use Power Search, which lets you enter multiple search criteria at once.
When you find content you like, iTunes 10 makes purchasing that content easy. Use a simple keystroke to purchase and download all media types, including individual songs, complete albums, films, TV episodes, Season Passes, audiobooks and podcasts.
iTunes U features enhanced accessibility for those using screen readers. As a result, everyone with access to the Internet, including those who are blind or vision-impaired, can enjoy great educational content. iTunes hosts content provided by participating universities, colleges, schools, museums, public radio stations and other educational organisations. That means the content is always available, easy to find, and even easier to download and play. On iTunes U, you search, download and play course content just as you do with music, films and TV programmes.
Apple works closely with participating schools and organisations, encouraging them to provide descriptions for images and other information they upload to their web pages to make sure the pages are accessible to those using screen readers.