Blind Apple engineer discusses company’s commitment to accessibility

Apple underscores its dedication to making its products accessible to the blind and low-vision community in a new story fromMashable, told from the perspective of engineer Jordyn Castor. Blind since birth, Castor said Apple’s iPad took her existing love for technology to another level because of the features aimed directly at people like her. “Everything just worked and was accessible just right out of the box,” Castor said. “That was something I had never experienced before.”
Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives at Apple, said the company strives to make that a common experience for all users, focusing on making accessibility features standard, not specialized. “[These features] show up on your device, regardless of if you are someone who needs them,” Herrlinger said. “By being built-in, they are also free. Historically, for the blind and visually impaired community, there are additional things you have to buy or things that you have to do to be able to use technology.” After a stint as an intern working on VoiceOver accessibility, Castor was hired as a full-time engineer on the accessibility design and quality team. “I’m directly impacting the lives of the blind community,” she said. “It’s incredible.”

Castor has brought first-hand experience with the challenges faced by blind technology users. That insight has resulted in everything from improvements to Apple Watch coming in watchOS3 that will let blind users keep track of time through vibrations on their wrist, to expanded features in Apple’s soon-to-be-released Swift Playgrounds coding program geared toward children. “I would constantly get Facebook messages from so many parents of blind children, saying, ‘My child wants to code so badly. Do you know of a way that they can do that?’” Castor said. “Now, when it’s released, I can say, ‘Absolutely, absolutely they can start coding.’”

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