Discussing Accessibility Innovation at Apple

Apple’s Senior Director of Global Accessibility Policy & Initiatives, Sarah Herrlinger, and accessibility engineering lead for iOS, Chris Fleizach, recently joined TechCrunch editor Matthew Panzarino for a Sight Global Tech conversation. They outlined the company’s latest accessibility technology and discussed how Apple works to foster a culture of innovation, empowerment, and inclusion.

Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Global Accessibility Chief Talks Tech

Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s Global Accessibility chief, talks about new accessibility features in iOS 13 and macOS Catalina.

Accessibility, as it always does, plays a significant role in not only the conference itself — the sessions, labs and get-togethers all are mainstays of the week — but also in the software Apple shows off. Of particular interest this year is Apple’s Voice Control feature, available for macOS Catalina and iOS 13 devices, which allows users to control their Macs and iPhones using only the sound of their voices.

The new features, such as Voice Control, are amazing.

The iPad is a Wonderful Accessibility Tool

The iPad is a wonderful accessibility tool, and one man with Down syndrome uses his iPad to keep up with his family more easily (via The Loop).

This guy, whose genetic abnormality was once thought to cap his learning ability at the kindergarten level, is becoming adept at computer/information age technology.

You folks made that possible. You paid the taxes that produce the classes and programs that give those of us who have special needs the needed special care.

While the idea of using an iPad as your only device enrages so-called “pundits”, people like Greg remind us that the iPad is the computer for everyone.

Apple Wins Prestigious Award for Device Accessibility

Apple has been given the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award from the Center for Hearing and Communication for its work towards creating accessible products for those living with disabilities. Senior Director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, Sarah Herrlinger, will accept the prestigious award on behalf of the firm. Given the focus that Apple puts on diversity and accessibility, the award is likely to be a source of pride at 1 Infinite Loop. Indeed, in an interview with the CHC’s Director Laurie Hanin, Ms Herrlinger said: “Our products should reduce barriers so you can do just that, regardless of ability. This work is never done. But it’s exactly the kind of design and engineering challenge Apple was built for.”  AppleInsider rightly notes Apple’s long history with accessibility enabling technology:

The company has for years incorporated accessibility assets like VoiceOver screen reader technology and system-level integration with hearing aids in its iOS and Mac devices, and continues to make advancements toward improving the user experience for people living with hearing loss. In 2016, for example, Apple rolled out AirPods-style streaming and Live Listen support for Made For iPhone hearing aids.

The MacBook Touch Bar Helps Customers who need Accessibility

Redditor u/cozygodal shared a story of using the MacBook Touch Bar. A lot of Apple customers (including the press) don’t like the Touch Bar and think it’s a gimmick. But u/cozygodal found it helpful for their dyslexia.

I would love to spotlight a specific use-case for the Touch Bar that maybe not a lot of people notice. I have dyslexia and a really hard time to spell words correctly. Taking notes in class is hard because I write so slow and it is a a lot harder to discuss my notes with classmates because nobody can read a dame word.

And a that point the MacBook Pro came in. You can see the words while typing and that is a godsend. I’m so much faster it is unbelievable like a switch in my brain is turned on. If you are telling me a word I cannot spell it in my head I had to memorized every single word I know like a foreign language and I can recall my memory so much faster with the pictorial representation of words in the touch bar.

Thank you Apple for making my life a lot easier 🙂