Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

New Accessibility Tools for Screen Readers, Checking Text, and More Coming Later this Year

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

Apple has announced new accessibility features for users with disabilities, expected to drop later this year. Over the years, the company has heightened the accessibility of its products by upgrading its hardware, software, and machine learning to assist users with disabilities. As a result, users can not only operate their devices independently and with more ease, but they can also navigate their environment with more ease and independence. A major innovation for those who are blind or have low vision is Door Detection, which can assist users in locating doors and describing door attributes, such as whether it is open or closed, and whether the door can be opened by pushing, pulling, or turning a handle. This feature can also announce signs or symbols around doors, such as room numbers or accessible entrance information, utilizing LiDAR, the device’s camera, and machine learning to function. Door Detection will be available in Detection Mode within the Magnifier, Apple’s support app for users who are blind or have low vision. Another new feature expands the use of the VoiceOver screen reader to include more than 20 additional locales and languages. VoiceOver on Mac has gained a Text Checker tool that can find common formatting errors, making proofreading digital documents simple. Other innovations include a Voice Control Spelling Mode that allows users to dictate the spellings of words, one letter at a time, and a Buddy Controller where two people can play games as one, using technology to combine input from two controllers. These features and many more will be available on newer iPhone and iPad models that have a LiDAR scanner. For more information, please read the press release, “Apple announces new accessibility tools for disabled people.”