Apple announces new accessibility features for communication, health, navigation, and more

Accessibility is an integral part of Apple as part of its commitment to making products that work for everyone. The company has announced a set of new innovative features for users with special needs like Door Detection for individuals with visual impairment, Live Captions across devices for individuals with hearing impairment, and more. 

Apple accessibility features

Here are all the new accessibility features for users with visual and hearing impairments coming later this year

The upcoming accessibility features are built on the advancements in hardware, software, and machine learning (ML) to provide users with special needs the tools to connect, navigate and get the most out of their devices: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. Here are all the new features coming later this year:

Door Detection is a navigation feature for users who are blind or have low vision. Powered by the LiDAR scanner, camera, and on-device ML, the feature will be available on compatible iPhone and iPad models. Door Detection’s new Detection Mode will be available within the Magnifier app.

  • It will help users to locate a door when arriving at a destination, detect how far they are from it and its attributes like if it is open or closed, needs to be pushed, pulled, or has a handle, and others. 
  • Read signs and symbols around the door like room numbers.
  • Integrated with existing People Detection and Image Descriptions features, the new Door Detection will work alone or simultaneously in Detection Mode.

Apple Watch Mirroring is an advancing physical and motor accessibility for Apple Watch designed for users with physical and motor disabilities to use or control their smartwatch without tapping on the screen.

  • Users can control their Apple Watch from their paired iPhone, remotely. Users can control the smartwatch through assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control, sound actions, voice commands, and others.
  • New Quick Actions on Apple Watch, users can control the smartwatch with simple hand gestures like pinch, clench, and other gestures to play, pause, answer or end calls, take a photo, and more.

Apple accessibility

Live Captions is available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac for deaf and hard-of-hearing users. They can read the text of audio content “on a phone or FaceTime call, using a video conferencing or social media app, streaming media content, or having a conversation with someone next to them.”

  • The feature offers auto-transcribed dialogue to call participants, especially to improve the group video call experience. 
  • And for group video calls on Mac, users can either choose to type a response or have it spoken aloud in real-time to all participants.
  • Users can adjust the font size of the text.

Apple accessibility

Improved VoiceOver

  • More than 20 new languages including Bengali, Catalan, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
  • New voices are optimized for assistive features across languages.
  • The new Text Checker tool for VoiceOver on Mac allows users to find common issues like duplicative spaces or misplaced capital letters to easily proofread documents or emails.

Special for sessions and more for Global Accessibility Awareness Day

In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple has organized special sessions, curated collections, and more for this week.

  • On May 19, SignTime will launch in Canada.
  • Throughout this week, Apple Store locations worldwide are hosting live sessions to help customers discover accessibility features on iPhone.
  • This week, the Accessibility Assistant shortcut will be released to the Shortcuts app on Mac and Apple Watch.
  • Fitness+ trainer Bakari Williams is going to use ASL to highlight the features available on the service through this week.
  • New guide from the National Park Foundation in Apple Maps.
  • App Store features accessibility-focused apps and powerful stories from app creators.
  • Transforming Our World collection in Apple Books includes stories by and about people with disabilities.
  • Apple Podcasts app offers creative ways technology is advancing accessibility.
  • Apple Music will highlight the Saylists playlists, a collection of playlists that each focus on a different sound.
  • Apple TV app will promote latest hit movies and shows featuring an authentic representation of people with disabilities like CODA.

Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Accessibility Policy and Initiatives said

“Apple embeds accessibility into every aspect of our work, and we are committed to designing the best products and services for everyone. We’re excited to introduce these new features, which combine innovation and creativity from teams across Apple to give users more options to use our products in ways that best suit their needs and lives.”

Read More:

About the Author

Addicted to social media and in love with iPhone, started blogging as a hobby. And now it's my passion for every day is a new learning experience. Hopefully, manufacturers will continue to use innovative solutions and we will keep on letting you know about them.