In recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day this week, CNET published a report highlighting some of the efforts Apple has been making to design its devices to help people with disabilities. Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s director of global accessibility policy and initiatives, discussed how Apple is always trying to add in new accessibility options year over year to improve the usability of its devices by people with various disabilities. CNET also spoke with Austin Pruitt, a two-time US Paralympian who has cerebral palsy from the knees down, and competes by racing in a wheelchair. Pruitt explained how the Apple Watch replaces a whole complicated set of sensors that he used to have on his wheelchair to track his workouts, adding “This has everything. This has my wheelchair and my walking, all in one.”
The report also mentions Apple’s numerous other accessibility features and how many have expanded beyond their original focus, such as how inverted colors on the iPhone — originally designed for the visually impaired — grew to be used by many other users for low-light bedtime reading. Herringer also discussed a number of Apple’s other efforts around accessibility, such as text-to-speech features on the iPhone, Bluetooth pairing with hearing aids and cochlear implants, use of the camera app by visually impaired users to read small print and barcodes, using HomePod to turn on small appliances via voice, and the use of portable Braille readers and paddle switches to control an Apple TV. “Every year we try to add in new things. We do look at how can we make it slightly better year over year,” Herringer noted.