Apple today has launched a new page on the App Store dedicated to showcasing apps that take advantage of the Accessibility features on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Apple says that the section is meant to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Accessibility featured page on the App Store is further broken down into sections for Vision, Hearing, Speech, Learning and Literacy, and Physical and Motor Skill.
Apple has released the first software update for Apple Watch today with the release of Watch OS 1.0.1. The update is available through the Apple Watch app on iPhone. Read more
Hearing aids are pretty sophisticated pieces of technology these days, capable of adjusting the sound they pick up to suit a range of different environments, from a noisy restaurant to a windy day outside. A button allows users to cycle between modes, but some go further, an app allowing the user to fine-tune things like the arc of sound captured, letting them hear what is being said by companions while blocking out extraneous sound.
One of the things I find most inspiring about the iPhone is the way it can be adapted to create very low-cost versions of what would otherwise be very expensive medical equipment, unaffordable in many parts of the world. We’ve previously seen this approach taken for things as diverse as HIV tests, skin cancer detection and eye injury diagnosis.
The American Foundation for the Blind today announced four honorees for the upcoming Helen Keller Achievement Awards, highlighting Apple’s VoiceOver and Accessibility efforts alongside actor Charlie Cox, musician Ward Marston, and biopharmaceutical company Vanda Pharmaceuticals.
The foundation says that it gives this award to “accomplished individuals and companies for their success in improving quality of life for people with vision loss either through groundbreaking innovation or inspirational achievement that changes perceptions about what it means to be visually impaired.”
Apple is specifically being awarded for VoiceOver Accessibility technology across its products, per the announcement:
Apple told employees during a week at the flagship Berlin Apple Store in Germany that the company will increase its focus on product accessibility by putting executive Lisa Jackson in charge of the efforts, according to people in attendance. Asked by an Apple Store employee if the Apple Watch will include accessibility features, Cook reportedly replied:
The National Federation of the Blind said last year that Apple has “done more for accessibility than any other company,” and with the help of a new app, iPhone and iPad owners can take things even further. Be My Eyes is an app that allows blind people to request remote help from a sighted person when needed.
Requests for help might range from checking the expiry date on a container of milk to looking at an airport departure board for a gate number … Read more
Previously, I discussed how to have your iOS device read text for you in iOS 7, and in iOS 8 it works pretty much the same way – but with some little differences. It is now easier to set up and make text speakable on an iOS device. Before we discuss how to do it, let’s first set up our iOS device so we can do it:
Last week, inaccurate reporting emerged in regards to Apple’s work on making its products accessible to all consumers. As many Apple customers are aware, and as CEO Tim Cook takes extremely seriously, Apple works hard to ensure that Macs, iPhones, iPods, and iPads can be used to their full extent by people who are deaf or blind, for example. In response to the reporting (Philip Elmer-DeWitt has a good summary of the original reporting and takedowns at Fortune), Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, has published a comprehensive blog post describing Apple’s work on accessibility, the technology industry as a whole, the resolution regarding iOS device accessibility, and what can be done to improve accessibility of third-party apps into the future.
The full blog post can be read here, but here is a key line that should further dispute last week’s inaccurate reports: “Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company to date, and we have duly recognized this by presenting the company with at least two awards (including our annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award) and publicly praising it whenever the opportunity arises.” The blog post goes on to explain that the Federation believes Apple could work further with App Store developers on making all of the more than one million App Store apps more accessible to all users. “We simply want Apple to continue to discuss with us what measures the company can put in place to ensure accessibility,” the blog post reads.
It is also worth watching Cook’s speech regarding human rights and accessibility, below:
There’s a lot of new features coming in iOS 8 that you might have missed during Apple’s presentation today. Apple briefly flashed the slide pictured above and in it listed a bunch of new features that it didn’t talk about in length or at all during its keynote. Some of them include a “Tips app”, panorama on iPad, WiFi calling, FaceTime call waiting, rich text editing in Notes, iBooks preinstalled, and accessibility improvements like multi-device support for MFi hearing aids and the ability to exit Guided Access mode using TouchID. Read more
iOS devices are built with all users in mind: they come with several accessibility features for low-vision or legally blind users, hard-of-hearing or deaf users, individuals who have physical and motor difficulties, and individuals with learning
In this accessibility segment, we will be discussing how to use and customize subtitles and captioning.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is not known for many video recorded public appearances outside of Apple events, spoke at length regarding equality at an Auburn University event. At the event, Cook accepted Auburn University’s College of Human Sciences Lifetime Achievement award. AllThingsD first wrote about Cook’s appearance and notes Cook’s discussion of two of his inspirations: Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy:
“They sacrificed everything, including their lives, as champions of human rights and of human dignity,” Cook said. “Their images inspire me. They serve as a reminder to me every day that regardless of the path that one chooses, there are fundamental commitments that should be a part of one’s journey.”
Cook also quotes the late Nelson Mandela (who Apple is currently honoring on its homepage). Interestingly, Cook’s quote from Martin Luther King is the same one that he sent via video to Apple employees late in November. “The time is always right to do what’s right,” the quote reads. The video (above) of Cook is well worth a watch for the life lessons it provides. Cook also provides insight into Apple’s approach to making its technologies accessible for everyone.