NFB of MA and Sidecar, Inc. to Collaborate on Accessibility Enhancements to Sidecar Apps for iOS and Android
Boston, Massachusetts (January 8, 2014): The National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts (NFB of MA), an affiliate of the largest nationwide organization of blind people in America, along with two of its members, Mika Pyyhkala and Kia Yang, are working with ride-sharing application developer Sidecar Technologies, Inc. on an initiative that will enhance the accessibility of its applications for blind users. Sidecar’s applications allow passengers to request rides from available drivers through Sidecar's information and ride-matching platform. Certain mobile devices, such as Apple iPhones and iPads, have built-in technology for the blind that speaks what is on the screen aloud or displays it in Braille, and allows blind users to control their mobile devices with gestures and keystrokes by nonvisual means.
Kyle Shachmut, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts, said: "Transportation is sometimes a challenge for blind individuals, and applications like Sidecar give us more control, independence, and choice than ever before. We commend Sidecar for its commitment to ensuring that its innovative mobile apps can be accessed by all individuals, including those who are blind, and we are particularly thrilled that Sidecar is the first ride-sharing service to make a public commitment to accessibility."
“One of the guiding principles for Sidecar is to build a transportation network accessible to everyone,” said Sunil Paul, CEO of Sidecar. “We are excited to work with blind users to develop a ridesharing platform that provides a valuable service to this community.”
Timothy Elder, co-counsel for the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts, Pyyhkala, and Yang, said: “Developers should follow Sidecar’s lead and adopt the published accessibility design standards for Apple iOS and Android. Conformance with these design standards helps to ensure that disabled persons are not locked out of the mobile marketplace.”
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We commend Sidecar’s leadership in recognizing the needs of blind consumers in our increasingly technology-dependent society, and we applaud this forward-thinking company for its cooperation with our Massachusetts affiliate. We hope that other app developers providing innovative transportation solutions will follow Sidecar’s example in proactively engaging with blind Americans to address accessibility issues.”
Timothy Elder of the TRE Legal Practice, and William Hunt and Jeremy Weltman of the Cambridge firm Clark, Hunt, Ahern & Embry, represented the NFB of MA, Pyyhkala, and Yang in the development of this accessibility initiative.