Company continues long-standing campaign for equal rights for workers
Apple this week is highlighting two areas of protection from discrimination in two separate actions; the endorsement of a new legislation motion to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act, and a spotlight celebrating the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act by showcasing a collection of accessibility apps. The company was recently recognized for its leadership in tech accessibility by the National Federation for the Blind.
Apple ramps up support for disabilities
Mac OS X Lion will introduce some 53 new synthesized speech voices, people said to be familiar with the OS claim. While none of the voices can yet be downloaded in full form for the developer preview, AppleInsider remarks that demos are already accessible. To get the complete voices people will have to download packs ranging from a third to a half of a gigabyte.
Store worker says jobs denied based on suspicions
A former worker at Apple's SoHo retail store in New York City has filed suit against the company, claiming discrimination on the basis of mental illness. The woman first began a job at SoHo in 2008, but in April 2009 took a four-month leave of absence because of a nervous disorder, seeking help from a psychiatrist. The leave was handled by a third-party company, alleged to have assured her that Apple wouldn't learn the details of her condition. On returning though the woman says it was "obvious" that other workers, "especially" the human resources director, had learned about her problem.
Allows deaf subscribers to reach hearing ones
AT&T has released a new iPhone app, AT&T Video Link. The software is meant exclusively for iPhone 4 users, and connects deaf or otherwise hard-of-hearing people to AT&T's video relay service (VRS). This allows calls to people with regular hearing by way of an American Sign Language interpreter.
iZATT Bumps Braille app
iZATT has released the latest addition to its Signal Series of apps for the iPhone and iPod touch, Bumps. The program works as a teaching aide for learning the Braille system. Users can view all 26 dot patterns on the screen, with or without the corresponding English letters displayed. All of the patterns can be viewed on one screen, or each can be presented full-screen. Users can also enter words to see how they are displayed in Braille.
Apple is adding new accessibility functions to iTunes, including updates to allow it to work with software used by the blind for reading the Internet, according to the Associated Press. Tony Olivero, of the National Federation of the Blind, recently demonstrated the technology at the Perkins School for the Blind. Olivero showed how a voice would read out whatever the mouse pointer was slid over, including file commands and movie, music and TV titles in the iTunes Store.
AFB praises Nano, iTunes
Apple has taken some important steps in helping with disabilities, says the American Foundation for the Blind. The non-profit aid and activism organization is mainly praising of the fourth-generation iPod nano, to which Apple has added software options for talking menus, as well as larger fonts. Previously, claims AFB president Carl Augusto, it was enormously difficult to find a particular track or artist on an iPod without skipping songs repeatedly.