Collaborating Authors

Google pauses crackdown on apps that use accessibility features


Almost a month ago, Google cracked down on developers that used Android's accessibility features for apps that weren't expressly created for people with disabilities. The company told developers that they had to show how their code actually helped those with a disability or face removal from the Play Store within 30 days. Now, however, Google is pausing that final solution for another month to consider "responsible and innovative uses of accessibility services."

Google cracks down on apps that misuse accessibility features


Android's accessibility services are supposed help disabled folks by letting app-makers integrate spoken feedback, voice commands and more. However, developers like LastPass have been using the functions for other purposes like autofilling passwords and overlaying content. That gives them an easy way to read data from other apps like YouTube, but it also creates a potential security risk. Now, Google is telling app makers that they must show how accessibility code is helping disabled users or their apps will be removed from the Play Store within 30 days. If you aren't already doing so, you must explain to users how your app is using the [accessibility service] to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps.

Control your iPhone with taps, but not taps on the screen!


Despite the bugs and headaches, I do love digging through new operating systems such as iOS 14 looking for new features I can use. And I discovered one feature that I'm liking a lot. It's the ability to control my iPhone by tapping on it -- but not the screen. This is yet another accessibility feature that apple has added to iOS that I like a lot (the other is AssistiveTouch -- check it out!). To find this feature go to Settings Accessibility Touch Back Tap.

ACM's Commitment to Accessibility

Communications of the ACM

It is no secret that my passion for being an ACM volunteer began with SIGACCESS--the ACM Special Interest Group on Accessibility and Computing. As a new volunteer, I was highly motivated by a talk by Ben Shneiderman in which he said he was proud to be part of an organization that had, as part of its code of ethics, the following: "In a fair society, all individuals would have equal opportunity to participate in, or benefit from, the use of computer resources regardless of race, sex, religion, age, disability, national origin, or other such similar factors." I, too, am proud to be part of a society that supports these goals. As ACM's President, I remain focused on issues of diversity. I would like to highlight two key aspects of accessibility already being addressed by ACM.

AI for Everyone: Accessibility Meets Bixby Vision


From electric wheelchairs to hearing aids, assistive technology is key to enhancing the social participation of persons with disabilities. As image recognition technology continues to advance, mobile devices have the potential to help users with visual impairments overcome barriers in daily life. By working with users and listening to their feedback, Samsung has developed accessibility features to empower individuals with visual impairments for Galaxy devices.1,2 To mark this year's Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the company is putting a spotlight on the three features which have enabled many Galaxy users to live more freely. The idea behind Bixby Vision is a simple one. It's designed to give people the ability to gain more information about their surroundings by using a smartphone's camera.