iTunes to be more accessible to the blind

Apple reaches a deal with the Massachusetts attorney general and National Federation of the Blind to adapt the music app and site for screen access software.

Jon Skillings
Jon Skillings Director of copy editing
A born browser of dictionaries and a lifelong New Englander, Jon Skillings is director of copy editing at CNET. He honed his language skills as a US Army linguist (Polish and German) before diving into editing tech publications back when the web was just getting under way. He writes occasionally, on topics from GPS to James Bond.
Expertise language, grammar, usage Credentials 30 years experience at tech and consumer publications, print and online. Five years in the US Army as a translator (German and Polish).

Apple will be making iTunes more accessible to blind consumers, under an agreement reached with the Massachusetts attorney general's office and the National Federation of the Blind.

Under the agreement, Apple will make iTunes U--a portion of the iTunes Store dedicated to educational content provided by colleges and universities--fully accessible to the blind by December 31, 2008. It will then work to provide full accessibility of the iTunes application and the remainder of the iTunes Store by June 30, 2009.

The blind and visually impaired will get fuller accessibility to the Apple application and Web site for downloading and purchasing music by means of screen access software that converts on-screen information into Braille or speech.

Apple will also contribute $250,000 to the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind to help the agency buy assistive technology that can make the Internet and computer programs more approachable for the blind.

Future versions of iTunes at the time of their release will have to be fully accessible to the blind, according to the Friday announcements on the agreement.

Apple released iTunes 8 earlier this month, along with a revamped iPod Nano and updated iPod Touch.

In August, retailer Target and the National Federation of the Blind settled a class action lawsuit over the accessibility of the Target.com Web site.