May 17 2022
Apple showcases innovative accessibility features that combine the power of hardware, software, and machine learning
Software features rolling out later this year offer users with disabilities new tools for mobility, health, communication, and more
Cupertino, California Apple today showcased innovative software features that provide new ways for users with disabilities to navigate, connect, and get the most out of Apple products. These powerful updates combine the company’s latest technology to deliver unique, customizable tools to users, building on Apple’s longstanding commitment to making products that work for everyone.
Using advances in hardware, software, and machine learning, people who are blind or have low vision can use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection; Users with physical and mobility impairments who may rely on assistive features such as Voice Control and Switch Control can fully control the Apple Watch from their iPhone using Apple Watch Mirroring; The deaf and hard of hearing community can follow Live Captions on iPhone, iPad and Mac. Apple is also expanding support for the industry-leading screen reader, VoiceOver, with more than 20 new languages and languages. These features will be available later this year with software updates across Apple platforms.
“Apple embeds accessibility into every aspect of our business, and we are committed to designing the best products and services for everyone,” said Sarah Herlinger, Apple’s senior director of access policies and initiatives. “We’re excited to introduce these new features, which combine innovation and creativity from teams across Apple to give users more choices to use our products in the ways that best suit their needs and their lives.”
Door detection for blind and visually impaired users
Apple introduces Door Detection, an advanced navigation feature for users who are blind or have low vision. Door detection can help users locate a door when arriving at a new destination, understand how far away they are, and describe door attributes – including whether it is open or closed, when it is closed, and whether it can be opened by pushing, or turning a handle , or pull the handle. Door Detection can also read signs and symbols around the door, such as the room number in the office, or an accessible entry code. This new feature combines the power of LiDAR, camera, and on-device machine learning, and will be available on iPhone and iPad models with the LiDAR scanner.1
Door Detection will be available in a new discovery mode inside Magnifier, an Apple built-in app that supports blind and visually impaired users. Door detection, along with people detection and photo descriptions, can be used alone or simultaneously in detection mode, providing users with visual impairments with an accessible place with customizable tools to aid navigation and access to rich descriptions of their surroundings. In addition to the navigation tools within the Magnifier, Apple Maps will provide voice and haptic feedback to VoiceOver users to determine the starting point for walking directions.
Improve physical and drive accessibility for Apple Watch
The Apple Watch is more accessible than ever for people with physical and movement disabilities using Apple Watch Mirroring, which helps users control their Apple Watch remotely from their paired iPhone. With Apple Watch Mirroring, users can control the Apple Watch using assistive iPhone features like Voice Control and Switch Control, and use inputs including voice commands, voice actions, and head tracking, or Made for iPhone external keys as alternatives to tapping on the Apple Watch screen. Apple Watch Mirroring uses hardware and software integration, including developments built on AirPlay, to help ensure users who rely on these navigation features benefit from unique Apple Watch apps like Blood Oxygen, Heart Rate, Mindfulness and more.2
In addition, users can do more with simple hand gestures to control the Apple Watch. With new Quick Actions on Apple Watch, the dual dial gesture can answer or end a phone call, dismiss a notification, take a photo, play or pause media in the Now Playing app, and start, pause or resume a workout. This is based on the innovative technology used in AssistiveTouch on the Apple Watch, which gives users with upper-body extremity differences the option to control the Apple Watch with gestures such as tap or tap without having to tap the screen.
Live Feedback is coming to iPhone, iPad, and Mac for deaf and hard of hearing users
For the deaf and hard of hearing community, Apple offers Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.3 Users can more easily follow up with any audio content – whether they’re on the phone or a FaceTime call, using a video conferencing or social media app, streaming media content, or having a conversation with someone next to them. Users can also adjust the font size for easier reading. Live Captions in FaceTime automatically captions written dialogue to connect participants, so group video calls become more convenient for users with hearing impairments. When using Live Captions for calls on Mac, users have the option to type a response and have it speak aloud in real time to others who are part of the conversation. And because Live Feedback is generated on the device, user information remains private and secure.
VoiceOver adds new languages and more
VoiceOver, Apple’s industry-leading screen reader for blind and visually impaired users, adds support for more than 20 additional languages and languages, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.4 Users can also choose from dozens of new voices that are optimized for assistive features across languages. These new languages, languages, and sounds will also be available for Speak Selection and Speak Screen. In addition, VoiceOver users on Mac can use the new Text Checker tool to detect common formatting issues such as duplicate spaces or misplaced capitalization, which makes checking documents or emails easier.
- With buddy console, users can ask a caregiver or a friend to help them play a game; The Buddy console combines any two controllers into one game, so multiple controllers can direct input to a single player.
- With Siri downtimeusers with speech impairments can adjust how long Siri waits before responding to a request.
- Voice Spelling Mode Gives users the option to dictate a custom spelling using the input letter by letter.5
- Voice recognition They can be customized to recognize sounds specific to a person’s environment, such as their unique home alarm, doorbell, or appliances.
- The Apple Books The app will introduce new themes, introduce customization options like bold text and adjust line, letter and word spacing for an accessible reading experience.
Celebrating World Accessibility Awareness Day
This week, Apple celebrates World Accessibility Awareness Day with private sessions, curated groups, and more:
- SignTime It will launch in Canada on May 19 to connect Apple Store and Apple Support customers with on-demand American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters. SignTime is already available to customers in the US using ASL, the UK using British Sign Language (BSL), and France using French Sign Language (LSF).
- Apple Store locations Worldwide offers 24/7 live sessions to help customers discover accessibility features on iPhone and Apple social support channels They offer educational content.
- The Accessibility Assistant Shortcut Coming to the Shortcuts app on Mac and Apple Watch this week to help recommend accessibility features based on user preferences.
- This week in Apple Fitness +, trainer Bakary Williams uses ASL to highlight features available to users that are part of an ongoing effort to make fitness accessible to everyone, including voice cues, which are short descriptive verbal cues to support users who are blind or visually impaired, time to walk and time to run, loops become “Time to walk or push” and “Time to run or push” for wheelchair users. In addition, Fitness + ASL trainers incorporate each exercise and meditation, all videos have closed captions in six languages, and trainers demonstrate modifications in each exercise so that users of all levels can join in.
- Apple Maps It features a new guide from the National Park Foundation, Park Access for All, to help users discover accessible features, programs, and services for exploring parks across the United States. Guides from Gallaudet University – the world’s number one university for deaf, hard of hearing, and blind students – show companies and institutions that value, embrace, and prioritize the deaf community and sign languages.
- Users can explore apps that focus on accessibility and powerful stories from app creators in App Store; Check out the Transforming Our World in Apple Books, featuring stories by and about people with disabilities; Learn about the creative ways technology is enhancing accessibility in the world Apple Podcast.
- Apple Music It will highlight playlists, which are a group of playlists that each focus on a different sound. Picking one up and singing with it is a fun and engaging way to practice vocal sounds or speech therapy.
- The Camel The app will highlight the latest movies and shows that feature an authentic representation of people with disabilities. Additionally, viewers can explore guest-curated collections of prominent actors in the accessibility community, including Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), Lauren Ridloff (“Eternals”), Selma Blair (“present, Selma Blair”), and Ali Stroker (“Christmas Ever After”), and more.
Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. Apple’s five software platforms — iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — deliver seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with cutting-edge services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s 100,000+ employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and leaving the world in better shape than we found it.
- Door detection and person detection features in Magnifier require the LiDAR scanner on iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation), and iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation). Door detection should not be relied upon in circumstances where the user may be harmed or injured, or in high-risk or emergency situations.
- Apple Watch Mirroring is available on Apple Watch Series 6 and later.
- Live Captions will be available in beta later this year in English (US and Canada) on iPhone 11 and later, iPad models with A12 Bionic and later, and Macs with Apple silicon. The accuracy of Live Feedback may vary and should not be relied upon in high-risk situations.
- VoiceOver, Speak Selection and Speak Screen will add support for Arabic (International), Basque, Bengali (India), Bhojpuri (India), Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Persian, French (Belgium), Galician, Kannada, Malay, Mandarin (Liaoning and Shaanxi, Sichuan), Marathi, Shanghainese (China), Spanish (Chile), Slovenian, Tamil, Telugu, Ukrainian, Valencian, and Vietnamese.
- Voice control spelling mode is available in English (United States).
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