On September 1, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new accessory protocol for touch screen device accessibility that will allow those that are disabled to use an iOS device. The new protocol is likely to be an extension of Apple's "Voice Over" Framework allowing third party developers to fulfill a need in the marketplace. Providing the disabled with access to an iPhone and its various services is bound to be applauded by many.
Apple Invents Solutions to Enable the Disabled to use iOS Devices
Apple's new patent application covers techniques and systems supporting the control of a touch input device, e.g., a touch screen device, from an accessory communicatively coupled to a device such an iPhone. These techniques could be used to provide a protocol that a non-touch input accessory could use to interact with a device with a touch-based user interface.
Particular embodiments of the subject matter described in this specification could be implemented to realize one or more of the following advantages. Users who are not physically present at a touch screen or other touch input device could interact with the device. Users that are unable to provide touch input and/or are unable to view the screen of a touch screen or other touch input device could interact with the device.
Users with any type of disability could interact with a touch screen or other touch input device, provided that the users have an accessory that they could control. Interactions between the touch input device and non-touch screen accessories could be standardized so that many different accessories could interact with all of the applications executing on a device. Interactions between the touch input device and non-touch screen accessories could be standardized so that users could interact with touch screen devices regardless of the dimension of the screen of the device. Interactions between a user and various application user interfaces could be standardized so that a user can use common commands for all user interfaces.
The device could launch an accessibility framework. An accessibility framework is an application that provides various accessibility features to a user. The accessibility framework could be configured to provide one or more users of the device with enhanced access to the device. In some implementations, the accessibility framework is configured to provide users with disabilities, e.g., that cause the users to be unable to provide touch input to the device and/or unable to view the screen of the device, with enhanced access to the device. For example, an accessibility framework could provide screen reading functionality, could support Braille output, and could otherwise provide users with information about content that is displayed on a screen of a display. An example accessibility framework is VoiceOver, available from Apple.
For more details of this patent, feed patent number 20110214056 into this search engine. Apple's patent application was originally filed in Q1 2010 by inventors Christopher Fleizach, Paul Holden, Eric Seymour, Emily Schubert, Lawrence Bolton and Sylvain Louboutin.
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