In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple is previewing a number of new accessibility features coming to iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac later this year. These new features, according to Apple, will allow users with disabilities “navigate and connect” in a more accessible way.
The new feature called Door Detection can be used to help you locate a door when you arrive at a new location. Door Detection allows users to determine how close they are to a particular door, and can also describe the attributes of that door such as whether it is open or closed. The feature will inform users if the door is locked.
Door detection can read symbols and signs around doors, including room numbers or “presence” of an accessible entry symbol. Door Detection works by using a combination LiDAR and your iPhone’s or iPad’s camera as well as machine learning.
Apple Watch Mirroring and Quick Actions
Apple Watch users have announced the new Mirroring feature for their Apple Watch. This feature is designed to make Apple Watch more accessible for those with motor and physical disabilities.
Apple explains that Apple Watch Mirroring allows users to control Apple Watch using iPhone’s assistive features like Voice Control and Switch Control, and use inputs including voice commands, sound actions, head tracking, or external Made for iPhone switches as alternatives to tapping the Apple Watch display.
Apple Watch Mirroring combines hardware and software capabilities including AirPlay “advances,” which allow users to access features such as Blood Oxygen and Heart Rate from their Apple Watch.
Quick Actions is another new feature coming to Apple Watch:
With new Quick Actions on Apple Watch, a double-pinch gesture can answer or end a phone call, dismiss a notification, take a photo, play or pause media in the Now Playing app, and start, pause, or resume a workout. The new technology in AssistiveTouch, Apple Watch’s innovative tech that allows users with upper body differences to use gestures such as a pinch and a clench to control Apple Watch without touching the screen, is now available.
For the Deaf and hard of hearing community, Apple has announced Live Captions for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These feature works by captioning audio content in real-time, including FaceTime calls, any other social media or video app, streaming media content, or even “having a conversation with someone next to them.”
Live Captions in FaceTime attribute auto-transcribed dialogue to call participants, so group video calls become even more convenient for users with hearing disabilities. For calls made on Mac using Live Captions, the user can type in a reply and have it read aloud to other participants. Because Live Captions are created on the device, users’ information is kept private and secured.
Another new accessibility feature announced today by Apple is
VoiceOver, Apple’s industry-leading screen reader for blind and low vision users, is adding support for more than 20 additional locales and languages, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
With Buddy Controller, users can ask a care provider or friend to help them play a game; Buddy Controller combines any two game controllers into one, so multiple controllers can drive the input for a single player.
With Siri Pause Time, users with speech disabilities can adjust how long Siri waits before responding to a request.
Voice Control Spelling Mode gives users the option to dictate custom spellings using letter-by-letter input. 5
Sound Recognition can be customized to recognize sounds that are specific to a person’s environment, like their home’s unique alarm, doorbell, or appliances.
The Apple Books app will offer new themes, and introduce customization options such as bolding text and adjusting line, character, and word spacing for an even more accessible reading experience.
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