Accessibility of toys

1 minute read

Accessibility discussions in most scenarios cover the Web and more often now mobile apps as well.
One area that seems to not have received enough attention is accessibility of toys or games with software interfaces.
For example, I just got a leapfrog leapstart toy for my 3 year old. The toy is a device to which you attach leapfrog books and download the corresponding audio from their application. The toy then reads the book aloud as the child touches various things on the page.
The above description sounds specially good for a blind person like me who is always looking for ways to be able to read aloud books for my kid.

However, the leapfrog companion application is so painfully inaccessible that it is unbelievable. All that a screen reader gets out of the app is the title of the window and absolutely nothing else.
The result is that the brand new shiny toy has been relinquished to the pile of unused stuff by the end of its first day in our house.

Another example was the lego robotics kit. This again comes with a programming interface that is perfectly and completely inaccessible.
Not just the software platform, but also the raspberry pi kind of board that forms the brain of your robot once built. There has been no thought whatsoever that has been put into somehow making the small screen or the various led indicators on the device accessible.

Leapfrog and Lego are large companies with huge budgets and these products have been around for many years now. There is no reason why they could not have invested any thought or resources towards accessibility of their products.