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Apple's general purpose Accessory Protocol for Accessibility devices

posted Sep 6, 2011, 4:11 PM by Owen Edwards   [ updated Sep 7, 2011, 11:39 AM ]
A story on CNET mentions that Apple is looking at providing a general purpose protocol for accessibility accessories (joysticks, buttons and switches, and Braille devices) to connect to VoiceOver on mobile devices running iOS (iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch).  Specifically, the story links to a patent application filed by Apple which describes how external peripherals could connect to VoiceOver on iOS (either wirelessly or through a cable) to provide access for "Users who are not physically present at a touch screen ... Users that are unable to provide touch input and/or are unable to view the screen of a touch screen".

These are precisely the use cases that WearaBraille seeks to address. So far, we have interfaced with VoiceOver by pretending to be an existing commercial Braille Display device (whose interface protocol was publicly available), but if Apple publishes a general purpose protocol (API) for accessibility accessories connecting to VoiceOver, we could potentially support a much broader set of controls for the iPhone and iPad. We will be excited to see what controls this protocol provides.