The FCC's Accessibility and Innovation Initiative is pleased to commemorate October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
In recent years and on a global scale, the spread of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices has been dramatic. A driving force behind this has been the revolution in mobile apps. Hundreds of thousands of apps have been developed for various mobile platforms, including Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Nokia, and Windows Phone. From a disability perspective, apps may be subdivided into the categories of accessible apps and assistive apps.
For the disability community, there are two vital kinds of apps: accessible and assistive. An accessible app is designed according to accessibility guidelines for user interfaces so that people with a range of physical or mental capabilities can operate the software successfully, such as people with visual, hearing, dexterity, or cognitive disabilities. An accessible app generally has a mainstream rather than disability-specific purpose. It benefits a broad user base in the accomplishment of human tasks that are commonly pursued.
An assistive app, on the other hand, helps people with particular impairments surmount what might otherwise be experienced as limiting consequences of a disability, (e.g., identifying paper currency to a blind person, facilitating direct sign language communication for a deaf person, inputting text from dictation by someone with a dexterity impairment, or giving reminders to someone with a cognitive disability). Naturally, an assistive app also has to be an accessible app to those who particularly benefit from it.
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