Today, Apple unveiled a slew of new and improved accessibility features for people with disabilities. Customers will use the latest Sign Time language interpreter program to access AppleCare and retail customer service through their web browsers starting in third week of Feb 2022. Assistive Touch, VoiceOver, hearing aid assistance, and background sounds will all be changed in future iOS, watchOS, and iPadOS software upgrades.
The new Sign Time app, which provides remote interpreter access for American Sign Language, British Sign Language, and French Sign Language, is launching first in the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. People can also get interpretation in Apple stores without making a reservation, hopefully avoiding the difficulty of finding an interpreter on short notice.
Assistive Touch will be available on watchOS for people with limb differences, allowing them to use Apple Watch without pressing the button. (Apple has not confirmed the Watches will fit for this.) The Apple Watch’s built-in sensors will sense muscle movement and tendon activity, enabling users to monitor a mouse on the watch screen, answer calls, view alerts, and more by making different motions and gestures, according to Apple.
Third-party eye-tracking systems will be supported by iPadOS, enabling users with limited ability to shift a mouse with their gaze and execute activities by maintaining eye contact instead of pressing the button.
Apple’s built-in screen reader, VoiceOver, will be revised to provide more picture information. It will help users to manipulate images with text and data tables through rows and columns, as well as describe people and objects in images, according to Apple. With Markup, people would be able to apply picture details as well.
Apple now plans to add bidirectional hearing aid assistance to the Made for iPhone hearing equipment service. Users would now be able to import their hearing test reports to Headphone Accommodations, which will enable them to more conveniently tailor how the functionality amplifies noises and changes frequencies.
Apple is adding Background Noises, which can be combined with other audio and machine sounds for neurodiverse individuals (or anyone who enjoys white noise). “Balanced, light, or dark noise, as well as ocean, rain, or stream sounds” may be programmed to play constantly to block distracting or disturbing noises.
When it comes to making their products more available, both big and small businesses will still change, but Apple has long been a pioneer in the field. These changes should indicate a continuing approach to designing for disabled persons.
Apple is now aiming to include the ability to use mouth sounds like taps or pops instead of physical keys later this year, as well as the ability to customise display and text size settings in individual applications, and additional Emoji options for cochlear implants, breathing tubing, and soft helmets.