Apple rejects game designed for blind people

About a week ago, I submitted a newer version of Blindfold Sudoku Mini to the iTunes App Store. The version contained some bug fixes, and enabled a gamer to purchase additional puzzles after they completed the first set of puzzles that comes with the free app.

Blindfold Sudoku Mini is a 4-by-4 Sudoku game, where you fill out puzzle with the numbers from 1 to 4, so that there are no duplicates in any row or column. Blindfold Sudoku Mini is an audio game- you must picture in your mind what is in each cell on the puzzle board, and the game will speak the contents of each square, or row, or column. It responds to gestures like flicking left and right, up and down, or two and three finger swipes. Unlike most Sudoku games in the App Store, its designed for rapid audio play. It does not use or need voice-over, and it was built in collaboration with several blind gamers. And to make the game even more fun, you can set Blindfold Sudoku Mini to use animal names or animal sounds, instead of the numbers from 1 to 4.

Apple rejected the app because they said “Your marketing screenshots do not sufficiently reflect the app in use, which does not give the user an accurate understanding of what the app does, as required by the App Store Review Guidelines. It would be appropriate to revise your screenshots to demonstrate the app functionality in use.”

Remember – this is an audio game, designed to be used primarily by visually impaired kids and adults. Here’s the screen shot (if you are visually impaired, the screen shot is a picture of a pair of headphones with the wording AUDIO GAME):

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I’m quite confused what Apple would expect for screen shots if the game is designed for people who are visually impaired, and what’s displayed on the screen is irrelevant to the playing of the game. Are they saying that they will only accept games that are designed for sighted people?

Visually impaired gamers use the voice-over feature of the iPhone to hear the description of apps in the App Store. That’s how they decide if they want to download the app. I would have assumed the Apple reviewer would have read Blindfold Sudoku Mini’s App Store description – here’s what it says:

“Blindfold Sudoku Mini is a fully accessible Sudoku game for both sighted and visually impaired people, designed for rapid audio play. It’s a starter game for Sudoku – a 4-by-4 puzzle game that’s great for kids and adults just getting started with Sudoku.

The Sudoku puzzle board is not visible; instead, you play by listening. Tap on a cell to hear what’s in the cell, swipe left to hear the row, swipe down to hear the column and swipe up to hear the square. Blindfold Sudoku gives you audio cues to tell the difference between the initial puzzle cells and the cells you fill in, and it lets you set multiple candidates for a cell.”

I hope this is just a mistake by the reviewer and not a move by Apple to discriminate against visually impaired gamers.

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