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Apple prepares to fill unmet needs with new iOS accessibility innovations

Apple prepares to fill unmet needs with new iOS accessibility innovations


Apple's upcoming iOS features break new ground when it comes to accessibility


Two of Apple's cutting-edge accessibility features announced last week in conjunction with World Accessibility Awareness Day on May 16th could be transformative for underserved sectors of the disability community. .

Traditionally, digital accessibility efforts related to both hardware and software have tended to focus on users who are blind or have low vision, and more recently on users with hearing loss as subtitles become more widespread. I did.

Apple has announced that later this year it will introduce an all-new eye-tracking feature that will allow users with severe hand and motor impairments to control their iPhones and iPads using only their eyes. Built directly into the operating system using artificial intelligence and machine learning, eye tracking uses the on-device's RGB camera to help users move through apps and menus and pay attention to on-screen elements. Allow them to be activated simply by fixating your gaze. Setting up eye tracking is easy right out of the box. All you need to get started is a 9-point calibration, which involves visually tracking the dots on the screen.

The Cupertino-based tech giant also has special services for people with language and communication problems caused by cerebral palsy or ALS.

Vocal shortcuts allow users to use Siri to match custom utterances and sounds to specific commands. This includes everything from setting a timer to checking the weather forecast to calling a friend. This can be trained with machine learning by simply having the user repeat the utterance three times. Meanwhile, Apple is continuing its Personal Voice efforts released with iOS 17 last year, allowing individuals who are losing speech due to a progressive condition to create a digital girlfriend simulation of their own voice on their Apple devices. We will continue to develop supporting functions. Used in conversation. The upcoming “Listen to Atypical Voices” feature will allow people with limited speech and communication to interact with Siri.

At a special press event held last week, Apple didn't reveal the exact timing of the release of these features, but said they are expected to arrive later this year.

Other notable upcoming feature releases announced at this event include music haptics. Music Haptics uses his Taptic engine on the iPhone, which can play taps, textures, and specific vibrations based on a song's specific audio, to help deaf and hard of hearing users experience music. I'll make it. The technology will be applied to millions of songs in the Apple Music catalog and will also be available as an API for third-party developers.

“We believe deeply in the transformative power of innovation to enrich lives,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a media statement. That's why for nearly four decades, Apple has promoted inclusive design by building accessibility into the core of its hardware and software. We're constantly pushing the boundaries of technology, and these new features reflect our long-standing commitment to providing the best possible experience for all of our users.

Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's senior director of global accessibility policy, added: Every year we break new ground when it comes to accessibility. These new features impact the lives of a wide range of users, offering new ways to communicate, control devices, and navigate the world.

multiple modalities

When it comes to navigating the world, the tech giant isn't just limiting its latest accessibility innovations to its handheld iOS ecosystem. CarPlay is working towards a series of accessibility enhancements such as voice control and voice recognition to assist the hearing impaired by displaying information on the screen about detected sounds such as emergency services sirens. There are also features for passengers who want to look at their phone screen while driving but want to avoid getting carsick. The new Vehicle Motion Cue feature displays dots on your device's screen that adjust direction as your vehicle moves. This changes the brain's perception of the disconnect between what you see and what you feel while driving, a common cause of car sickness.

Users of Apple's recently released high-end headset, the Apple Vision Pro, will also soon be able to benefit from real-time live captioning, allowing people who are hard of hearing to understand and participate in conversations. It also enhances the device's low vision assistance features, adding options such as reducing transparency, inverting colors, and dimming lights.

This is all good news for the disability community. The breadth of Apple's ongoing accessibility efforts extends beyond the range of obstacles that need to be addressed to the range of systems that individuals of all abilities use to navigate our increasingly complex society. and hardware awareness. world of technology.




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