back to article Apple and Lenovo are dropping the ball for visually impaired users

Companies big and small are dropping the ball when it comes to UI design and the support of customers with visual disabilities. Here is why you should care, even if your eyes are fine. Blind people use computers a lot. They are an amazingly helpful tool, able to read letters and signs to you, find places, and give directions. …

  1. JimmyPage Silver badge


    Making websites accessible to people with disabilities isn't just a nice thing to have. It's a legal requirement under UK, US, and EU law – for instance,

    All sounds very well. Until you research and find number of UK websites prosecuted under this act = 0. (Admittedly on a par with average compensation to individuals for a data breach.)

    My wife is visually impaired. And would happily work to test websites. However the last website operator she contacted told her she must be wrong about their site being unusable as they had hired a team (presumably all fully sighted) who had cleared the design as being "disability friendly".

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Whateve

      "So what disabilities did they consider?"

      Telling a disabled person that you're offering a disability friendly service, when they have already tried (and often failed) to use it is.... well, I'll not go there.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Whateve

      The 2018 UK accessibility website law only applies to public sector bodies. The EU Web Accessibility Directive doesn't apply in the UK thanks to Brexit but if any company has a web presence which sells goods and services in the EU/EEA market then they will need to meet the same standards by 2025 anyway.

  2. Rich 2 Silver badge

    “Lenovo takes customer satisfaction very seriously…”

    Any and all tech companies should be fined and their entire management imprisoned for a week every time they issue any statement along the lines of “We take <insert issue here> very seriously…”

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: “Lenovo takes customer satisfaction very seriously…”

      It usually appears in a fob-off response and can be translated as "we don't give a fuck but here are some empty words to pretend that we do"...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Posting under anonymity,

    I live in the Middle East (the powder keg that went BANG! last Saturday), and here, the situation is somewhat interesting.

    As in, if you fail to make your website accessible, you can get hit with a few things:

    1. A criminal fine of around $37575 (150,000 local)

    2. A civil fine of $12525 (50,000 local)

    3. An administrative fine of $1878 (individual), or $3757 (organization) per day until the violation is sorted. (local is 7500 or 15000 respectively)

    4. A class-action lawsuit

    Therefore, if Lenovo were to do this here, someone would've gotten fired for this.

    1. G.Y.


      Has anybody actually been fined over this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fined?

        Locally? yes, but I cannot find sources because it's not reported. That system is as broken as YouTube's copyright strike system.

  4. J__M__M

    swing and a miss

    What Levono will do is refund the price difference for this particular purchase because it's our own goddamn fault, not the customer's.

    What Levono should have done was write off the guy's laptop, but we are either too stupid to recognize the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive or we are not empowered enough to take advantage of it. Either way total fail.

  5. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    It's not just blind people

    Some people can see a screen perfectly well but have severe tremours, making pointing devices quite useless. However give them a heavy mechanical typewriter with a suitable interface and they can manage quite well.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: It's not just blind people

      [Author here]

      > making pointing devices quite useless.

      Indeed. As I said:


      ... can be accessed by people who can't see a screen, or who can see fine but can't use a mouse or trackpad, or who have other sensory or motor impairments.


    2. Andy Non Silver badge

      Re: It's not just blind people

      I'm slowly heading into that category with some hand tremors and a little vision loss. What irks me is the tendency of websites to use small font sizes and operating systems and application interfaces to tend towards using tiny controls and shrinking scroll bars. It applies to physical things too, typically like user instruction leaflets that come with gadgets and household appliances, the text often is effectively illegible for me as it is too small even with prescription reading glasses. I even had to return a book to Amazon the other day as the text was too small to read - the frustrating thing there is that Amazon tells you the physical dimensions of books, how many pages etc but unless there is a "see inside" option, you are left with no clue how big the text is.

      1. PRR Silver badge

        Re: It's not just blind people

        > text often is effectively illegible for me as it is too small even with prescription reading glasses.

        If just a little too small, go back to the doc to change the "Add 2.5" to "Add 4" or more. That's the diopters (inverse meters) the lensmaker adds to the far-see Rx to get the close-up Rx.

        That's if you are just a little old. If you need more boost, use any lens that works. Plain "readers" in high power. Jeweler/watchmaker head magnifiers. Worn with your Rx lens the Rx covers astigmatism/prism and the plain lens does the close-up action. Another tip you may have handy: camera lenses. The 50mm normal lens on your old SLR is an excellent 5-power lens. Hold the logo-side near your face at fixed distance, then move the object to about 2 inches (50mm!) from the film-side of the lens to focus.

        If you pay more than $39 for your cellphone, the Camera app "should" be another magnifier. Find the flower icon for close-up. (However my recent Moto is crap- it may have been dropped.)

        Yes, handheld lenses shake and are real inconvenient on the PC. Windows has a magnifier but it does not impress me.

        1. Andy Non Silver badge

          Re: It's not just blind people

          Thanks I'll look into those. I've used my phone's camera to enlarge tiny restaurant menus successfully, but not really suitable for reading books. I'll ask my optician about stronger lenses, thanks.

  6. PRR Silver badge

    Aside from old chum Newton, so near-sighted and tunnel-vision that he left nose-prints on the screen.......

    My Mom's vision declined to near-zero this year. Former newspaper reporter and tireless emailer and mail-list maven, she's now isolated and bored out of her gourd.

    Yes, screen readers and speech-to-mess but.... it would be real good to start this new-learning BEFORE vision declines too much.

    Also her short-term memory is fading, so what she learns is soon gone.

    Me and my housemate are also losing sight. Cataracts are easy but retina-rot (macular, arc-burns) is much less treatable.

    (Deafness is a slightly lesser issue, but I already use YouTube's Caption feature rather than blare the speakers. And I had noted that El Register's cracker-barrel chats don't have captioning...)

    The corporate attitudes reported in this story are asinine. I want to find these morons and spray prednisone or brake-kleener in their facesXXX no, but I would settle for dark warped glasses for a week until they catch-on.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      FWIW, my own mother is in the same boat. :-(

      It absolutely sucks, and the thing that the devs of a lot of current desktops -- notably KDE and GNOME, which have _some_ keyboard shortcuts, but *not the standard ones* -- fail to realise is that a good keyboard driven UI is a good UI _for everyone_ and not just for people who can't use a mouse.

      1. Andy Non Silver badge

        I experimented by buying one of those trackball gadgets, but found it much worse than a mouse. My fingers just weren't steady enough or precise enough to control the pointer so it was wobbling all over the place while I tried to point it at what I wanted to click. Sent it back to Amazon after one day.

        Another thing that peeves me is with games. In my twenties I was really good playing the original Doom on DOS, nowadays a lot of games on the PS4/5 don't make allowances for older gamers with slower reflexes or a little arthritis in their fingers. I can only play on "story" level nowadays. Often the so called "easy" level is impossibly difficult as my fingers just seize up while trying to fight a boss or I don't have the finger control required to precisely and quickly aim a weapon. I've had to abandon several games part way in when encountering a boss that you must defeat to proceed with the game. So frustrating when it is relatively easy to make an easier level for people with age related disabilities... just have larger values for the amount of health gained, your resilience or for the power of your weapons etc. It ain't rocket science.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I definitely agree with this. I've been blind all my life and pretty technical, running a ton of Linux machines and working as a programmer. Still, I tend to use Windows desktops most often, although I have used all of them. The sad fact is that there is only one GUI-capable Linux screen reader, it only has one real developer at the moment, assuming they're still doing it, (no, not me, I keep meaning to spend more time getting into it), and it only does the basics. Since the screen reader doesn't have many useful features, I rely even more on having good keyboard shortcuts. The lack of consistency between applications makes doing things on the Linux desktop harder than on the Windows one. Mac OS is a different story, but I'll post about that later so people can more easily skip it when that gets boring.

      3. PRR Silver badge

        > ..._some_ keyboard shortcuts, but *not the standard ones*...

        Standards? There are standards?

        Standard XKCD:

        Google offers many choices:

        What are the 20 shortcut keys A to Z?

        What are the 50 keyboard shortcuts?

        What are the 40 shortcut keys?

        What are the 100 shortcut keys and their functions?

        What are the 3 common shortcut keys?

        What are 6 common keyboard shortcuts?

        Which 10 shortcut keys are used most often and why?

        Chrome has a shortcut for shortcuts:

        How to see all keyboard shortcuts on a Chromebook - Google

        That's a 3-finger: Ctrl + Alt + forward_slash

        5 actions if you follow the small blurry animation on

        While memorable keystrokes reduce the see-and-shoot aspect of awkward GUIs, they don't help other aspects of low/no vision computer use.

        Games? My game is Junod's WinSolitaire from 1992. Among other things, the card faces read well.

        I also hate pages that scroll-scroll-scroll. I am getting a sore carpal on my wheel finger, because Dn or PgDn loses focus or selects things I don't want.

  7. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Screen reader shenanigans

    In about 2003, I got a call from a customer asking if I could go to his house and set up his screen reader software on a new computer he bought. He told me he was blind, and he had bought this computer and the software on the advice of the RNIB.

    The first amusing thing to happen was that he told me he was previously unable to set up the computer at all because although his mother was helping, she couldn't understand what was on the screen. But the screen wasn't plugged in. It was under the desk on the floor with a big label on it saying "please remove label before use". His mother was unable to understand what to do, and obviously the customer, being blind, was unable to do much either. The computer was ancient even for the time; the guy had somehow managed to order a computer from Dell that was at least five years old. It was running Windows ME, I seem to remember. He had just followed the directions from some article at the RNIB that was out of date.

    The next amusing thing was when I tried to install this god-awful screen-reader software and the first thing it did was come up with some error or other. I followed the instructions exactly as per its instruction leaflet. Everything I tried just led to this error. So I decided to ring the helpline. The person who picked up the phone asked how he could help, and I asked him if he'd ever seen that error message before. He replied "no, I've never seen that error message before, but then I'm blind, so I wouldn't have!". He had no idea what to do and admitted that the helpline wasn't able to... help.

    By copious fiddling about, I managed to get it to work on my own, but it was so flaky. The voice was awful, but the guy said he'd get used to it. Nice chap, I felt sorry for him having to try and use that terrible software. I hope he's a lot happier now that the software really is streets ahead.

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