Apple Previews Upcoming Accessibility Features

Originally published at: Apple Previews Upcoming Accessibility Features - TidBITS

Apple has pre-announced some exciting new accessibility features for its future operating systems, several of which may be highly useful for non-disabled users.

Wife’s 3 year old Volvo with CarPlay can display and read text messages. Wife is in a Spanish class, and often gets texts from others in the class (in Spanish.) The Volvo used to read those with an English accent so they were often unintelligible. But the Volvo now detects that the message is in Spanish and uses a Spanish accent voice. Wife said, “The car’s Spanish is so much better than the people in my Spanish class!” :-)

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These all sound really good, Apple do a huge job here.

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Health, safety and accessibility have always been big selling points for Apple. There are so many different varieties of Android and Windows products out there, and not all of them can manage stuff that Watch, iPhone, iPad or Mac does with ease and grace. My thinking is that this announcement is setting the stage for the upcoming Developers Conference in a very few weeks.

This week is Accessibility Awareness week and this was announced on Global Accessibility Day. Apple made a similar announcement of upcoming accessibility features last year at this time. Apple Announces Upcoming Accessibility Features - TidBITS.


Your memory is clearly better than ours!

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is May 19 (GAAD is always on third Thursday of May) but I think you’re correct about this being why they announced them when they did.

The GAAD website lists many events happening on or around May 19. You could also treat it as Global Accessibility Action Day; if you have a website, try an automated checker like WAVE – Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool and make a plan for how to fix some of the problems it finds. If you don’t have a website, you could learn how to add text alternatives (“alt text”) to images you include in documents or post on social media (including here in Discourse’s editor). Colleagues wrote a good resource about how to write good alt text.


Thanks for the steer Curtis. A few things on my sites to address for sure.

I’m very conflicted. While it’s clear Apple customers value Apple’s commitment to accessibility and that Apple has and will continue to transform the lives of disabled people, empirically it’s (increasingly, perhaps) rather hard, as a user of these features, not to conclude that accessibility is most useful to Apple for generating PR rather than improving the lives of people who need and use these features. I know there are people inside Apple who do care—I know, I’ve dealt with them—but ultimately it’s a priority that too often gets pushed aside in ways that mainstream customers would find utterly unacceptable. So by all means enjoy the fuzzy wuzzies at Apple’s munificence to the disability community in adding even more (potentially life-changing, potentially pointless) features, but please also get behind us when we’re pushing Apple to meaningfully improve the QC on accessibility as well. Glaring bugs that kill productivity, provide an inadequate standard of access, or just break functionality in production software are routine enough now that red flags should be on everyone’s radar and not just confined to our little communities. An excellent essay on the state of play of assistive technology by a well-known blindness advocate can be read here. I highly recommend it.

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Thanks for that, Curtis. As a CPACC member, I am only realizing the frustrations our society creates for its own, whether through ignorance or simple misunderstanding. Websites, travel, homes, and even technology are still needing a major push to accessibility for all.

On topic, I read that there is only the iPhone 12 pro/13 Pro and Max models that support LiDAR (as well as the iPadPro). Those are expensive and I wish Apple would allow integrate LiDAR in more future models that are less than $$$$. Most that have accessibility needs, don’t necessarily have deep accessible pockets.

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