New accessibility features from Apple include door detection for the blind

New accessibility features from Apple include door detection for the blind

Ahead of International Accessibility Awareness Day, US multinational technology company Apple previewed several new accessibility features for members of the special needs community on Tuesday.

The tech giant offered a slew of software updates in a media preview, including door detection for the visually impaired, live captions for the hearing community, and the Apple Watch Mirroring feature.

The features will be available later this year with software updates across Apple platforms.

New accessibility features

Using advances in hardware, software, and machine learning, people who are blind or have low vision can soon use their iPhone and iPad to navigate the last few feet to their destination with Door Detection.

Meanwhile, users with physical and movement disabilities who may rely on assistive features such as voice control and switch control can fully control the Apple Watch from their iPhone using Apple Watch Mirroring.

The deaf and hard of hearing community can follow Live Captions on iPhone, iPad and Mac. Apple is also expanding its support for the screen reader, VoiceOver, with more than 20 new languages ​​and languages.

“Apple embeds accessibility into every aspect of our business. We are committed to designing the best products and services for everyone,” said Sarah Herlinger, Apple’s senior director of accessibility policy and initiatives.

“We are excited to introduce these new features, which combine innovation and creativity from teams across Apple to give users more choices to use our products in the ways that best suit their needs and their lives,” Sarah said.

Door detection for blind or visually impaired users

Door Detection is a sophisticated navigation feature that can help users locate the door when arriving at a new destination.

With the app, users can see how far they are from the door, and describe the door’s attributes – including whether it’s open or closed, and when it’s closed, and whether users can open it by pushing, turning the knob or pulling the knob.

Door detection can also read signs and codes around the door, such as the room number in the office or an accessible entrance code.

“This new feature combines the power of LiDAR, camera, and on-device machine learning, and will be available on iPhone and iPad models with the LiDAR scanner,” a company press release said. However, the company said the door finder should not be relied upon when the user is in harm’s way, injured, or in situations of danger or emergency.

Once updated, Door Detection will be available in a new discovery mode inside Magnifier, an Apple built-in app that supports blind and visually impaired users.

Door detection, along with people detection and image descriptions, can be used alone or simultaneously in detection mode, providing users with visual impairments with an accessible place with customizable tools to aid in navigation and access to detailed descriptions of their surroundings.

“In addition to the navigation tools within the Magnifier, Apple Maps will provide voice and tactile feedback for VoiceOver users to determine the starting point for walking directions,” the release states.

Door detection works in real time using machine learning on the device, LiDAR scanner, and camera. No data or location saved or shared, Apple explains.

Enhance physical and kinetic accessibility

Apple Watch Mirroring helps users with upper-extremity differences in remote control of their Apple Watch from their paired iPhone. Users can control the Apple Watch using assistive iPhone features such as voice control, switch control, and use inputs including voice commands, voice actions, head tracking, or Made for iPhone external keys as alternatives to tapping on the Apple Watch screen.

Apple Watch Mirroring uses hardware and software integration, including developments built on AirPlay, to help ensure users who rely on these navigation features benefit from unique Apple Watch apps like Blood Oxygen, Heart Rate and Mindfulness. Parts available on Apple Watch Series 6 and above.

Users can do more with simple hand gestures to control their Apple Watch. With new Quick Actions on the Apple Watch, the dual-dial motion 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.

This is based on the innovative technology used in AssistiveTouch on the Apple Watch, which gives users with upper-body extremity differences the option to control the Apple Watch with gestures such as tap or tap without having to tap the screen.

Live Captions are coming to iPhone, iPad, and Mac for deaf and hard of hearing users

For the deaf and hard of hearing community, Apple will offer Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Users can more easily follow up with any audio content – whether they’re on the phone, a FaceTime call, video conferencing, a social media app, streaming media content, or having a conversation with someone next to them.

Users can also adjust the font size for easier reading. Live Captions in FaceTime automatically captions written dialogue to connect participants, making group video calls more suitable for users with hearing impairments.

When using Live Captions for calls on Mac, users can type in a response and have it speak aloud in real time to others who are part of the conversation. According to Apple, because Live Captions are generated on the device, user information remains private and secure.

Live Captions will be available in beta later this year in English (US and Canada) on iPhone 11 and later, iPad models with A12 Bionic and later, and Macs with Apple silicon.

VoiceOver adds new languages ​​and more

VoiceOver, Apple’s industry-leading screen reader for blind and visually impaired users, will add support for more than 20 additional languages ​​and languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian, Tamil, Marathi, Vietnamese, etc.

Users can also choose from dozens of new voices optimized for assistive features across languages. These new languages, languages, and sounds will also be available for Speak Selection and Speak Screen.

Additionally, VoiceOver users on a Mac can use the new Text Checker tool to detect common formatting issues such as duplicate spaces or misplaced capital letters, making it easier to access proofread or email messages.

Additional Features

> With Buddy Controller, users can ask a caregiver or friend to help them play a game; The Buddy Console combines any two-game consoles into a multiple console, so that multiple consoles can route input to a single player.

> With Siri Pause Time, users with speech impairments can set how long Siri waits before responding to a request.

> Voice Control Spelling mode allows users to dictate custom spellings using character-by-character input. It is available in English.

> Users can customize voice recognition to recognize sounds specific to a person’s environment, such as a unique alarm for their home, doorbell, or appliances.

> Apple Books will introduce new themes and offer customization options like bold text and adjust line, letter and word spacing for an accessible reading experience.

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2022-05-18 06:30:02

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