How Apple's new accessibility features will help users with disabilities
Apple has previewed a set of new features for cognitive, vision, hearing, and mobility accessibility. Among the new options is a Personal Voice option designed for people who are at risk of losing their ability to speak. What's interesting is that users will be able "to create a synthesized voice that sounds like them" for talking with friends and family.
It would take 15 minutes to create a Personal Voice
According to Apple, users can create a Personal Voice by reading out a set of text prompts to record 15 minutes of audio on an iPhone or iPad. This accessibility feature works along with Live Speech which lets users type what they want to say and it will be spoken out aloud during calls and even one-on-one conversations.
Apple has streamlined some of its apps
Apple has also introduced Assistive Access which streamlines some of the core apps to their essential features to "lighten the cognitive load." As part of this change, Phone and FaceTime apps have been combined into a single Calls app. Changes have also been made to Messages, Camera, Photo, and Music apps to add a "distinct interface with high contrast buttons and large text labels."
The Magnifier app comes with a new detection mode
The Magnifier app gets a detection mode designed to help visually impaired individuals interact with physical objects that have many text labels like household appliances. For instance, users can aim the camera of their iPad or iPhone at a microwave keypad, and the device will read aloud the settings on the appliance as the user moves their hand across the keypad.
Macs also get new features
Along with iPhones and iPads, Apple has added a bunch of features to Macs as well. People who are deaf or hard of hearing can pair Made for iPhone hearing devices to Mac and customize the settings. For people with low vision, the company makes it easier to adjust the size of text on apps like Finder, Messages, Mail, Calendar, and Notes on Mac.
Users will be able to customize speed of Siri
Users will be able to pause GIFs in Safari and Messages if they are sensitive to rapid animations. They can also customize the speed at which Siri speaks to them. Further, Voice Control will list phonetic suggestions when editing text.
The new features will be released later this year
"Accessibility is part of everything we do at Apple," said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's senior director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives. "These groundbreaking features were designed with feedback from members of disability communities every step of the way, to support a diverse set of users and help people connect in new ways." Apple will release its new accessibility features "later this year."