Accessiblity in OS X

OS X includes a wide variety of features and assistive technologies known as Universal Access that include screen and cursor magnification, a full-featured screen reader, visual flash alerts, closed-captioning support, and much more. OS X includes all the features your app needs to make it accessible to users with special needs.

Making Your App Accessible

Developers using standard controls and their subclasses will find support for assistive applications is built-in. Apple’s Accessibility APIs define how OS X apps can make their user interface available to an external assistive application or service.

Apple strongly encourages developers to support these APIs in all of their apps so they are compatible with features built into OS X such as VoiceOver, as well as other third-party products. The Xcode IDE and Cocoa frameworks make it easy to add accessibility tags like descriptions. For example, the inspector pane allows you to enter a description for any control in the user interface; that description will be synthesized into speech when VoiceOver is enabled.

How it Works

An assistive application interacts with accessibility objects in your app to allow people with disabilities to drive the user interface in non-traditional ways. For example, a VoiceOver user relies solely on the keyboard for control, and on Speech Synthesis and Braille for feedback. If your app can only be used with a mouse, it will be inaccessible to a user who relies on VoiceOver and other applications that use the Accessibility APIs in OS X. Users with low vision can also set OS X’s built-in zoom, grayscale, and white-on-black display mode options to adapt the onscreen experience to their specific needs. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can set audible alerts to automatically flash the screen instead. Physically disabled users will rely on AppleScript and Automator workflows to simplify complex tasks and can take advantage of keyboard and mouse preferences to make them easier to control and use. It is important that your app work as intended for those who rely on these assistive features of OS X.

Through Universal Access, Accessibility APIs that support technologies such as Speech Recognition, Speech Synthesis, AppleScript, and Voiceover, and a host of developer tools and utilities, OS X provides an extraordinary opportunity to deliver a superior computing experience to every customer, including those with special needs. Learn more