Accessibility for Blind Cyclists

OK, we all know what Zwift is, and all the benefits the platform offers cyclists, so I’m not going to list them all here.

What Zwift is missing, is accessibility for visually impaired cyclists that might want to use the software and it is about ■■■ damn time they are held accountable for this.

I myself, am a visually impaired triathlete and would absolutely love the opportunity to lock horns on Zwift, but I can not, due to the in-accessibility of the program.

Zwift, are very aware of their lack of accessibility, but simply do not care enough to address the problem.

With todays’ technology, it would not be much of a stretch to add voiceover capability to Zwift, making it possible for people like myself to enjoy what the platform has to offer.

Zwift have been approached on multiple occasions by other visually impaired athletes looking for help, and have simply brushed them off, which is why I am not planning on taking the same approach with them.

I have already started looking into the possibility of bringing legal action against the company, and am writing this to the community to gather support, as the more people that recognize the need for change, the more likely Zwift are to take notice if legally prompted to do so.

Thoughts? Opinions? I will leave this here for now.

Jon

Yeah but boost mode!

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Seriously though, add it to all the other borderline discriminatory stuff they don’t care about and has been highlighted for years. Like this very small selection:

https://forums.zwift.com/t/add-in-game-oman-flag/503267

Oh and if you want a proper laugh, give this post another read: One Zwift For ALL

Five months later and they’ve done literally nothing, I think that qualifies as virtue signalling. Raised a load of cash though. :+1: :+1: :+1:

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I get your point, however I highly doubt any form of actual legal action has ever been taken…

Just because blind cyclists are a small demographic, does not mean they should be excluded.

Thanks for chiming in!

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Furthermore, in all honesty, these examples, do not inhibit somebody from using the platform.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m on your side. I’m not saying any of those things matter any more or less than your own situation, it’s not a competition. I’m just trying to make the point that progressing accessibility, inclusivity and equality for users is clearly not their prerogative. Even after they’ve publicly proclaimed that it is. I wish you all the best with your efforts.

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Cheers and thanks for weighing in…

Hi @Jon_D2, I would certainly support accessibility for visually impaired cyclists (and others)! My understanding is that items are given attention if they receive enough votes, so if everyone who reads this up-votes it, there would be a better chance for it, right? So: clicking VOTE now.

You mention a voice-over capability. Is that all it would take? I know nothing about programming a massive platform like Zwift or the needs of the visually impaired, but wonder (as I am often prone to do) whether it is less that they are trying to be uncooperative/difficult/uncaring and more that they do not have the manpower or expertise to tackle an issue that they do not see enough users needing. It seems that programming is not all that straightforward and that such changes are more time consuming and costly than we out in user-land tend to think. That said, this (and the other items listed by @Dave_ZPCMR) are really important and would add a great deal of value to the platform. And so I wonder (perhaps naively) whether a better approach than legal action might be an awareness campaign, which you have started here. I will bring this up in the group that I just joined and see whether we can get folks to come to the forum and vote this up. Maybe you could contact the IBSA (International Blind Sports Federation) or the American Foundation for the Blind? Or I just looked up and see that there is the United States Association of Blind Athletes - and they have cycling! And even the Paralympics (https://www.paralympic.org/cycling/contact
Perhaps they have resources or grants that could be put toward encouraging Zwift to tackle this issue in a way that would address the issues that visually impaired (and other) cyclists/platform users would have. I would imagine that worldwide there might be a rather large group of people interested in this if we can work together to get the word out.

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Hi there,
I will say this:
Awareness campaigns are just that; they bring awareness to an issue or cause. In this case, Zwift are very aware of the lack of accessibility with their platform as it has been brought to their attention on multiple occasions. That said, the overwhelming majority of Zwifters are not impacted by the lack of accessibility of the Zwift product and thus could not care less as this issue does not impact them in the slightest.

While I agree that the size of the visually impaired/blind demographic that would use Zwift is quite small, that does not mean that they should be excluded and there is legislation in place in North America to make sure that stuff like this does not happen.

As for the technology that would be needed to make the product accessible, it already exists. Would it require some Zwift manpower and brains to implement? Sure it would, but for how much money, and resources they pour into their app when it comes to user experience, adding some basic accessibility features would litterally be cake for these guys.

Bpottom line, companies of this size and stature do not do anything that does not offer them direct benefit, meaning financial gain. They also do not tend to respond favorably to “awareness campaigns” and although your heart is certainly in the right place, sometimes you gotta skip a few rungs of the ladder in order to get ■■■■ done.

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Hi @Jon_D2,
I get what your are saying. What I meant about awareness is not so much bringing this to Zwift’s attention, but rather bringing it to the attention of other zwifters and of the greater visually-impaired cycling community, so that those voices/our voices, added together, can show that it really is a larger group that could be interested. I love Zwift because it gives me the opportunity to ride safely indoors (I live in Houston) while connecting with other people around the world. I think the workouts are great and the community is awesome, and I would think that most people here would be interested in expanding the community to everyone who is interested. I would love for you to be able to join the community, and if that is something that you haven’t been able to do yet, I would love for that to change. I also think that it would be a fabulous platform for all sorts of people who, for whatever reason or impairment, would benefit from the experience of indoor community riding. It could be a pretty big market segment. I see we’re up to 5 votes so far :smiley:

I also love the idea behind the product. What I do not like is the blatant disregard by the people behind the product when it comes to inclusivity.

I have reached out to people a lot smarter than me to find out if Zwift are actually on the hook for this, and if so I will certainly be proceeding against them.

http://mediawiremobile.com/news/some-differences-in-canadian-and-american-disability-laws/#:~:text=Canada’s%20first%20national%20accessibility%20law,Parliament%20in%20June%20of%202019.http://mediawiremobile.com/news/some-differences-in-canadian-and-american-disability-laws/#:~:text=Canada’s%20first%20national%20accessibility%20law,Parliament%20in%20June%20of%202019.

As you can see by reading the information found at the link above, there is a lot of room for interpretation, but also a lot of possibility as well.

That old adage does not apply in this case, as technology is most definitely available to make Zwift more accessible. The question is whether or not anybody is willing to call them out for this, and act on it. I, am…

That’s the thing. Dead horses tend to wake up if legally prompted to do so.
Based on legislation currently in place in North America, if there is any avenue of pursuit available, I will take it.

Jon, I am also a VI rider but on a Wattbike Atom at home. I have raced on the road when my sight allowed and am longing to join friends virtual rides, especially during Covid lockdowns. As you say, though, there is literally zero support for VoiceOver or even an inbuilt feature that allows anyone, disabled or not, to have audio feedback.

I’m in the UK, a member of Blind Veterans and have over 20 years in the technology industry. I know this is a basic feature addition, especially when there are really only a few metrics that need to be made available. I am keen to do what I can to raise this with Zwift and hold them to account.

Absolutely! It’s not just blind cyclists who benefit from a better UI. People who have less than perfect vision of any type will. Shortsighted, colour impaired etc.

I think Zwift should at least apply WCAG A and AA standards to their UI. Although it’s not a website or a public service, we deserve something that works for all subscribers.

I was riding with D. Diesel today, and I really struggle to see the distance on the “he’s behind you” marker:

White on yellow/yellow on white are terrible for contrast ratios. From my position on the saddle, I can’t read the “12m”. If I lean in and squint I can make it out, but this would be much easier to read:

Similarly these:

image

Yes, eventually you learn that “a green blob” is B and “a blue blob” is C. But in terms of reading the UI it’s awful. Make the letters readable from distance (by increasing size, contrast or both) or just go with a coloured spot. A green spot without the white letter is more visibly a green spot than a blurry green/white one.

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There is so many things they could do that would not even cost them a single dollar. simple thing like pick the right color to make the UI more easily readable. Right now, when I navigate the menus on the Apple TV, I don’t even know where my cursor is. The way I see it, Zwift saying that they care about inclusivity is as empty statement as facebook saying they care about privacy haha. I just hope that ater they finish implementing new feature, they can turn their attention toward accessibility.

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I’m legally blind and fortunately have enough central vision to be able to utilize Zwift. My eye disease is progressive. Their will come a day when I will be unable to benefit from the platform as-is. I certainly support an awareness campaign, but threatening legal action?! At minimum this will simply jack up the cost of use for everyone and may not solve anything. It’s a private company, they have the right the operate their business as they see fit. You have the right to not pay for their service. If awareness is the focus (and not retribution) market forces will birth a competitor that will fill that niche if Zwift chooses not to step up.

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Has there been any update from Zwift.

It’s a feature that would be ever so helpful. My stoker would love to get onto Zwift and ride with me on grim days.

I’m such an evangelist of Zwift. Accessibility for visually impaired would cement it.

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Hello,

I was just checking up on any VI stuff on Zwift and found this thread.

I’m a VI user and get frustrated with Zwift and the lack of audio queues… I generally have to ignore much of the data available on the screen, but stuff like workout prompts being vocalised is something that I would greatly appreciate.

Has there been any further progress on this thread.

I believe legal action could work. What would be the potential market for VI cyclists to join Zwift. What would increase in their bottom line if more VI, dyslexic, etc. cyclists joined Zwift.

Realspeak and other SDKs are available to add TTS capability to programs. That’s said speech has been a part of of gaming for many decades so there are probably other SDKs available to them.

Apparently Zwift respond to votes on these posts. Where’s the vote button - I’m visually impaired.

Zwift appear to have a history of getting others to do their work for them. They rely on Discord for in-ride chat and Zwiftpower for sorting out the cheating. Despite many requests, it has literally taken them years to bring in the end ride, but not quit Zwift capability.

I look forward to some form of accessability in Zwift, but I don’t hold my breath.

Happy Zwifting

PS I found this farther down my search

Zwift News: Leo Hynes: Losing Sight and Racing Strong | Zwift
(Sorry, it won’t let me include links)

Zwift clearly like to promote VI use of their app, but we need a pilot and a 42" screen…