Apple announced several new and updated features for people with disabilities during the week. From May 20, customers can use the new sign language service SignTime to communicate AppleCustomer service for healthcare and retail via web browsers. Software updates will be available for iOS, watchOS and iPadOS later this year, along with advanced options for Assistive Touch, VoiceOver, hearing aid support, and background sounds.
The new SignTime service is available for the first time in the US, UK and France; Provides remote access to translators for American Sign Language, British Sign Language, and French Sign Language. People can also use the service in Apple shops to get translation service without prior reservation. This could potentially avoid the hassle of dealing with an interpreter in a short amount of time.
People with extremity differences can use Assistive Touch in watchOS, giving them the Apple Watch without touching the screen. Apple did not clarify which Apple Check out models what this will work for. Apple says the Apple Watch can detect muscle movement and tendon activity through its built-in sensors, allowing users to control a cursor on the watch screen, answer calls, access notifications, and do more by making various gestures and gestures.
iPadOS supports third-party eye trackers, allowing people with limited mobility to move a cursor with their gaze and perform actions by making eye contact instead of touching the screen.
Voice over, Apples built-in screen reader, updates to include more detail in images. According to Apple, This feature allows people to navigate images using tables with text and data in rows and columns, and identify people and objects in images. People can also add descriptions of images with Markup.
Apple plans to develop the Made for iPhone hearing aid program by supporting bidirectional hearing aids. In addition, users can upload hearing test results to Headphone Layouts to more easily adjust how the feature amplifies sounds and adjusts different frequencies.
Apple provides background sounds for people with neurological diversity (or people who like white noise) that can be combined with other sounds and system sounds. There will be “balanced, bright or dark sounds, as well as ocean, rain, or current sounds” that play continuously and can be adjusted to mask distracting or overwhelming sounds.
Other possibilities Apple plans later in the year include the ability to use mouth sounds like clicking or popping in place of physical buttons, adjusting screen and text size settings in separate apps, and new Memoji options enriched with cochlear implants, oxygen tubing, and soft helmets.
Companies large and small have always had a wide variety of actions to make their products accessible, but Apple has often been a leader in this field. We hope these updates symbolize an ongoing commitment to design with people with disabilities in mind.