Original Post by Shaun Heasley | May 24, 2021 | Disability Scoop
Apple is introducing a variety of new options for users with disabilities. (Thinkstock)
Apple is set to roll out a host of updates to make its devices even more user-friendly for people with disabilities.
The technology giant said that software updates coming later this year will include changes “designed for people with mobility, vision, hearing and cognitive disabilities.”
Apple’s iPad will start supporting third-party eye-tracking hardware, the company said, allowing individuals to control the device with their eyes. And, a new background sounds option is intended to help neurodiverse individuals stay focused and calm by masking unwanted external noises with the continuous audio of a stream, ocean, rain or other balanced, bright or dark noises.
The switch control system that currently offers users alternate ways to control functions on their iPhone or iPad devices will be expanded to allow for control with sounds like a click, pop or “ee,” Apple said, giving more options to those who are nonverbal or who have limited mobility.
Meanwhile, improvements are coming to Apple’s VoiceOver screen reader to allow users to explore objects within images. Apple Watch will become more sensitive to muscle movement and tendon activity to give people with limb differences control over the device without using touch. And, the company is launching a new service called SignTime to allow customers to communicate with Apple support and retail representatives using American Sign Language.
“At Apple, we’ve long felt that the world’s best technology should respond to everyone’s needs, and our teams work relentlessly to build accessibility into everything we make,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of global accessibility policy and initiatives. “With these new features, we’re pushing the boundaries of innovation with next-generation technologies that bring the fun and function of Apple technology to even more people — and we can’t wait to share them with our users.”