Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

New Accessibility Features for Smart Phones and Tablets to be Released Later This Year

by Connor Courtien, RDPFS Intern:


In a press release from Apple, the technology company previewed accessibility features that will launch later this year focused on cognitive, visual, hearing, and mobility accessibility. For individuals who are blind or have low vision, one major new feature will be added to the Magnifier app on iPhone and iPad.  The app already allows users to enlarge images for easier viewing and provides people and door detection as well as image description for a captured visual. This new feature, called Point and Speak, will read aloud any text that a user is pointing towards with their finger, making it easier for people with low vision to interact with objects that have several text labels. A video included in the press release demonstrated this innovation in operating household appliances. It showed a person moving their finger across the keypad of a microwave, with each label being read aloud as it’s passed (“Cook Time”, “Pizza”, “Power Level”, “Add 30 Seconds”). In addition to this major new feature for users with visual impairments, a couple of smaller improvements are coming as well. One involves improving the implementation of Text Size across Mac apps, such as Finder, Messages, Mail, Calendar, and Notes, making it easier to adjust text size as needed. The other is improving Siri’s voices in VoiceOver, making it sound more natural and expressive even at high playback speeds and allowing users to adjust Siri’s speed anywhere from 0.8x to 2.0x. To read more in-depth information about these improvements for users with visual impairments, as well as other accessibility features coming to Apple platforms, be sure to read the press release entitled “Apple introduces new features for cognitive accessibility, along with Live Speech, Personal Voice, and Point and Speak in Magnifier.”