EBU gets a bite at the Apple

Alongside other DPOs, EBU was invited to an exchange on accessibility at Apple on February 3.

First there was a presentation by Sarah Herrlinger on Apple's approach to accessibility, then there was time for questions and networking.

EBU was represented by Bart Simons, one of our accessibility experts, from Belgium.

He provided the following feedback on the topics which EBU brought to the discussion, after consultation with the accessibility network.

About Text-To-Speech voices:

- they thought that almost all European languages were available. As we heard this is not the case for Estonian. Jakob Rosin, from EBU’s Estonian member, said that a voice exists and wondered why Apple does not include it. They replied that there may be two reasons: they don't know of the existence of this voice or it may not be compatible with their software. In both cases they are interested to hear about it and try to work together with the developers of the local voice

- they said that for each language they have local experts. I could not make her give concrete details. She could not answer the concrete question why the Hungarian voices have been replaced. But she says that this is done after consulting local people.

- several people reported bugs in the pronunciation of specific items in specific voices. She strongly encourages to send them to accessibility@apple.com and they will look into it.

About Braille tables:

- no concrete answer about the general source for Braille tables and how often the library is updated.

- again the recommendation to send issues to accessibility@apple.com

About the accessibility@apple.com e-mail address:

- they understood that people may have the feeling that it is like a black box since you often don't hear back from it

- they reassured that messages are read by people and categorized

- it is not necessary to write in English. They say that they support all languages.

- they strongly encourage to use this channel, also for translation errors (as reported by Hungary) or issues with specific voices or in local braille tables

About new camera features such as door detection:

Bart said that it is not always practical to point the phone's camera (rain, full hands ...) and asked if we could not have a camera independent of the phone. In glasses or otherwise head or chest mounted.

They simply thanked us for the suggestion and moved on. Clearly she was not going to say anything about possible plans for glasses.

Bart and other EBU experts will continue to monitor the situation and put forward further questions.