Apple to make iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch use easier for the disabled with these new features for 2021
The Accessibility page on the iPhone (Settings > Accessibility) offers features and options allowing those with disabilities to use the device. Those with poor vision can make the text on their iPhone larger and can define it better by using Bold print. Users who have difficulty hearing can access the page to pair hearing aids made for the iPhone, or turn on sound recognition to receive notifications when specific noises are heard by the handset.
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Apple plans on adding more accessibility features via software updates that will be disseminated over the course of this year. These updates will be pushed out across all of Apple's operating systems. For example, those Apple Watch users with "limb differences" will be able to use AssistiveTouch to use the timepiece without having to touch the display or controls thanks to motion sensors.
Apple adds new features to help those with disabilities
The company says that the "Apple Watch can detect subtle differences in muscle movement and tendon activity, which lets users navigate a cursor on the display through a series of hand gestures, like a pinch or a clench. AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch enables customers who have limb differences to more easily answer incoming calls, control an onscreen motion pointer, and access Notification Center, Control Center, and more."
Those with poor vision will be able to hear descriptions about people found on an image while also hearing about the data on a receipt, a chart or a graph. A photo of a receipt can be read by rows and columns including table headers. The feature will also explain where a person is positioned compared to other objects within the image.
The update will also add support on iPadOS for third-party eye tracking devices allowing users to control an iPad with their eyes. Sometime later this year, Made for iPhone (MFi) products will be available that will track where a person is looking on an iPad screen. Eye movement will allow a pointer to navigate the display while an extended period of eye contact will perform an action, like a tap.
For the hard of hearing, Apple will be adding support on the iPhone for new bi-directional hearing aids which allow users to make hands-free phone and FaceTime connections. These next-gen MFi hearing aids will be available from Apple's partners later this year. Additionally, the iPhone soon will be able to customize audio based on the user's latest audiogram results showing the results of his/her last hearing test.
Apple is also providing a feature called Background Sounds that reduce distractions and allow the user to be focused and calm thanks to certain sounds that will be heard through the speakers on a device. The options available will include balanced noise, bright noise, dark sounds, sounds of the ocean, rain, and background noise associated with a stream. Many people are calmed by the sound of rain (especially when warm and dry inside).
SignTime launches today, allows those hard of hearing to use sign language to communicate with AppleCare and more
Also coming later this year will be an accessibility control for those who have difficulty speaking. With Sound Actions for Switch Control, physical buttons and switches are replaced with sounds generated by the user's mouth such as a click, a pop, or an "ee" sound. Also later this year, Apple will support the customization of display and text settings for individual apps and will allow Memoji to be created with oxygen tubes, cochlear implants, and a helmet.
Apple launches SignTime today
Starting today, Apple launches its new SignTime program that allows customers to communicate with AppleCare and Retail Customer Care through their web browsers by using various versions of sign language. In the states, American Sign Language (ASL) will be used while those in the U.K. will sign with British Sign Language (BSL). French Sign Language (LSF) will be used in France. Apple plans on adding SignTime to additional countries in the future.