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Commit to never again wilfully excluding disabled people from public betas

This petition had 2,208 supporters

When encouraging developers to make their apps accessible, Apple puts it simply. "It's the right thing". And so it is.


Apple's commitment to accessibility has transformed lives. Each year sees more innovation which results in increased opportunity for disabled people.


However, where VoiceOver, the screen reader built into Apple products is concerned, in recent years serious quality control issues have created difficulty and frustration every time Apple issues a major operating system update.


It is therefore critical that disabled people who are willing have as much opportunity as possible to test pre-release versions of Apple operating systems so we can provide constructive feedback to Apple. We volunteer our time, and take the risks inherent in testing beta software because we care and want to make Apple products better for the good of all.


Having knowingly released a watchOS beta to developers which was not usable by blind people because VoiceOver was not functioning, this same beta was subsequently made available to the public, despite a week having gone by since the inaccessible build was sent to developers.


The implications of this are that any Apple Watch owner can give Apple feedback on watchOS 7, except blind people.


The more time that goes by, the less likely it is that any significant bugs can be fixed before release.


We accept that beta software has bugs, but we also know that certain defects are so severe that they would prevent a beta from going public. If the touch screen or digital crown had been rendered completely unusable because of a software change, the beta wouldn't be released to the public. For blind people, VoiceOver not working at all is just as impactful.


Because of the quality issues blind people have experienced with Apple in recent years, to many this feels like yet another slide down a slippery slope.


We respectfully urge Apple never again to release a beta build when they know it renders a device totally inaccessible to a group of disabled people. It undermines confidence and tarnishes Apple's brand.


An unequivocal, public commitment from Apple's Chief Executive on this matter will help restore confidence in the quality of Apple software. Ensuring we can all participate in building better products is a win for us and a win for Apple. 

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