Accessibility First

Our mission in building Dwell is to help others cultivate a habit of listening to the most important book in history: the Bible.

For most of us, the idea of listening to scripture is a new one. Christianity is a reading-centric culture, and for good reason. The ability to read and study the word of God for yourself is a priceless gift. We’re working to augment the experience of seeing God’s word, not replace it.

But, what if you can’t see God’s word?

All across the globe tens of millions of people struggle with visual impairment. If the US alone 8,000,000 people fight with limited or no vision, including nearly 700,000 children. For these brothers and sisters, listening to God’s word is not a preference, it’s all there is.

For these brothers and sisters, listening to God’s word is not a preference, it’s all there is.

As we build Dwell, we’re committed to ensuring that everyone who can use a smartphone can listen to God’s word from Day one.

That’s nice, you might think, but if you’re blind how can you use a smartphone at all?

Well, thanks to the engineers at Apple, it’s not only possible to use an iPhone while blind, it’s possible to thrive on an iPhone.

Apple provides two main technologies to help the visually impaired: Dynamic Type and Voiceover.

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Dynamic Type allows a user to set the base font-size across the entire phone. By taking this setting into account, 3rd party apps like Dwell can adjust the font sizes in their apps to be larger (or smaller), easing the struggle for those with aging eyes, among other ailments. We’re designing Dwell’s UI to support Dynamic Type in as many areas as possible. It might seem like a small thing, but to someone who struggles to read small text it can be the difference between being able to use an app or having to set it down and move on.

Voiceover allows even those with no vision at all to navigate through apps.

If you’ve never seen voiceover in use, let me encourage you to watch this video demonstration. It really is amazing to see how proficient the visually impaired can be with an iPhone, and how life-changing the experience can be.

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By leveraging the tools that Apple has built we are able to provide descriptions and hints to the various controls across the Dwell app, enabling Voiceover users to hear the descriptions as they move through the app. It’s a limited amount of extra work for us, and it opens up the entirety of God’s word to our listeners.

With Dwell, accessibility isn’t “Coming Soon,” it’s here now. We’re building for Accessibility First.

Jeff McFadden