Apple enhances diversity with its latest accessibility tools

What can people do alone? What can a computer do? And what can humans and computers do when they work together? Apple’s recent accessibility features give us an idea of ​​new ways in which technology and people can enhance each other.

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day

This week, Apple is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day with news of this impending improvement, and special sessions, curated collections, and more.

The company will launch SignTime in Canada on May 19, a service that connects Apple Store and Apple Support customers with on-demand sign language interpreters. Syntime was launched just in time for Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021 and is already available in the United States, United Kingdom and France.

But I think the most interesting thing is that Apple plans to expand its existing accessibility features, including machine learning, to provide sophisticated solutions for people with disabilities to get around, communicate, take care of their health and much more.

Computers seem to be a useful example of how humans can improve.

“Apple embeds accessibility in all areas of our work, and we are committed to designing the best products and services for everyone,” said Sarah Herlinger, senior director of Apple’s Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, in a statement. He noted that these new features reflect the team’s contribution across the company.

They also reflect the long-standing commitment from the company, which has built accessibility solutions to its products from day one. Apple CEO Tim Cook remains committed to that; In 2018 he described it:

“… a fundamental value of Apple. We do not create products for a specific group; We make products for everyone. We strongly believe that everyone deserves equal opportunity and equal access. “

Apple’s accessibility enhancements continue to bridge the gap, empowering people with disabilities with tools that every business should employ to build a resilient, hybrid workforce so that your teams always share the insights you gain when it comes to diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Strengthen with.

So, what’s coming?

Apple has announced four major features, which it says will be launched “later this year”:

A tool that helps blind or visually impaired people navigate the last few feet to their destination. This will help identify a door, let users know how far they are from that door, whether it is open or closed, and how it is opened. The system uses LiDAR on supporting devices and can also read signs and symbols, such as door numbers.

A new detection mode will be available in the door detection magnifier In detection mode, visually impaired users can use a set of customizable tools to help them navigate their surroundings and access rich details of their surroundings. Apple Maps Voiceover will offer word and haptics feedback designed to help users identify starting points for walking directions.

It allows users with physical and motor disabilities to control an Apple Watch using voice control or switch control on their iPhone – it extends to iPhone switches, head tracking and external builds for voice commands. The idea is that users with such disabilities can still use health-promoting devices that supply the watch with oxygen in the blood.

Apple has also improved the fast actions of the Apple Watch: now a double-pinch gesture to 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 May 6 Workout It is built on Apple’s existing AssistiveTouch technology, which empowers differentiated individuals in the upper body by controlling the gestures of the Apple Watch.

Live captions will be available on iPhone, iPad and Mac A universal feature, it basically turns your Apple product into a subtitling machine for your life and aims to benefit the deaf and hard of hearing community.

In use, your device can listen to any type of audio and provide a real-time transcript. It will work with any audio content – a WebEx call, social media, phone conversation, or even a personal conversation.

When used with FaceTime, live captions can also attribute the dialogue to specific speakers, while Mac users can type responses to what is being said and share those responses to others in their Mac conversations. The font size is adjustable and the data is only on the device.

  • New voice and tools in voiceover

A great encouragement for proof-readers is the acquisition of a new text checker tool to identify common formatting issues, such as Mac’s voiceover duplicate spaces or incorrect uppercase letters.

Apple will add support for 20 more languages, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian and Vietnamese, and Voicelover Local. Users can choose from dozens of new voices that have been optimized for helpful features in different languages. New languages, locales and voices will also be available for Speak Selection and Speak Screen Accessibility features.

There are other improvements:

  • Siri Pause Time lets users with speech disabilities adjust how long Siri will wait before responding to a request.
  • The body controller combines any two game controllers, so multiple controllers can run input for a single player.
  • Sound recognition can be customized to identify specific sounds for a person’s environment, such as those made by alarm systems, doorbells or appliances.
  • The Apple Books app will offer new themes and introduce customization options such as bolding text and adjusting lines, character and word spacing.

Accessibility is being celebrated across Apple’s channels

This week, Apple is celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day with special sessions, curated collections and more. Its retail stores will host live sessions to explain existing accessibility features, and it is introducing an accessibility assistant shortcut in the Mac and Apple Watch shortcuts app to help recommend accessibility features based on user preferences.

Apple’s online services and portals are also focusing on accessibility, including showing movies and shows, fitness workouts and apps, books, music, podcasts and other content.

Apple Maps will also feature new tools to help users discover accessible features and services in the parks, including guides from Gallaudet University. Cook recently provided a starting address in Gallaudet. (This is about 1:57 in the video here).

Many of these improvements make a difference in people’s lives.

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