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Follow Friday With Michael Hanson Of AppleVis

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Happy Friday Everyone! You returned to work after the holiday. You’ve successfully gotten all of your work caught up from being gone. Now, it’s time to enjoy the weekend and Fedora Outlier’s Follow Friday (#FF) interview series!Are you ready to find out who Fedora is showcasing this week? Well, you will have to continue reading to discover who I chose to sit down and chat with.

Apple’s “born accessible” devices and products has made it possible for the blindness community to use items such as an iPhone, iPad and Mac computer. However, the availability of resources on how to use these devices and their popular features are sometimes not easy to find, especially for individuals using Voice Over.

Michael Hansen and his fellow editors at AppleVis have rectified that problem. AppleVis is a community based website dedicated to providing a wealth of information, resources and empowerment to the blindness community that uses Apple products.

Fedora Outlier is proud to support AppleVis by following Michael and the rest of the AppleVis team on Twitter because of their daily diligence to provide such an invaluable resource.

Let’s grab a cup of coffee and see what Michael has to say. Shall we?

Brie Rumery: How did you first become involved with AppleVis?

Michael Hansen: I first joined AppleVis in August 2010. I had just gotten my iPhone 3GS up and running, and I was downloading apps like a kid in a candy store. I’m not sure exactly how I found AppleVis, but I was immediately interested in the website’s database of accessible apps—especially after having purchased something that was inaccessible and going through the process of getting a refund from Apple.

BR: Why is it important to have such a resource like AppleVis for the blindness community?

MH: AppleVis is just one of many valuable resources to the blindness community. While we hope our iOS and Mac app directories, podcasts, and outreach to developers are beneficial to blind and sighted users alike, we feel we are no more important than any other website or service.

BR: What is the process that you and your fellow Editors use in regards to finding and posting material for the AppleVis site?

MH: Most AppleVis content is submitted by our users. As members of the Editorial Team, our main job is to help the site run smoothly: make sure app entries are up-to-date, edit and record podcasts for posting, moderate the forums, and assist in team decision-making.

BR: For individuals who may be new to Apple and its iOS devices, what type of apps would you recommend and why?

MH: It is difficult to recommend one type of app because there are so many great choices out there. AppleVis has a dedicated list of apps designed specifically for people who are blind or visually impaired which new users may wish to investigate. We also have a list of the most recommended apps from our users ( which provides a pretty good indication of what the most popular apps are. Lastly, our iOS App Hall of Fame, where we showcase the best of accessible apps as voted on by our users, is also worth a look.

BR: What type of responses are generated from developers when it comes to the lack of accessibility for a particular app?

MH: We have seen it all: from developers bending over backwards to make sure their apps are accessible to those who are totally unresponsive to user requests. By and large, though, the majority of developers are happy to make their apps accessible; the reason accessibility wasn’t integrated before is they just didn’t know about VoiceOver until a user contacted them.

BR: How do you feel about Apple’s “Born Accessible philosophy
for its products and why are similar companies hesitant to do the same?

MH: Apple’s integration of accessibility into its products is one of a kind. It has been a game-changer for many, and I suspect it will be for some time to come. The question I am left asking myself is, “If Apple can build accessibility right into the core product design, why can’t everyone else?”

BR: Using just one word, how would you describe AppleVis?

MH: “Empowering.”.

BR: What was your main reason for becoming a member of Twitter and how important is it not only for you, but for AppleVis to have as a social networking platform?

MH: For me, Twitter is about information. Once I realized how useful Twitter could be to follow things like Apple news, assistive technology, and the weather…I began using it all the time.
For AppleVis, our main purposes in using Twitter are raising accessibility awareness and helping our users stay connected to the site.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @MH3129 or get your daily dose of AppleVis @AppleVis.

I want to thank Michael Hansen for chatting with me this week, especially since he participated in Fedora Outlier’s #AccessChat series this past Tuesday. Haven’t heard of #AccessChat? You’ll have to join us each Tuesday evening at 8:00 PM EST to join in on the conversation and fun!

Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you back here next Friday.