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Apple Is Leading The Tech Market In Terms Of Providing Disabled Individuals With Accessible Features

An accessibility report by Engadget reveals Apple to be leading the charge in terms of design sensibilities and features that actively address the needs of differently abled individuals.

Accessibility is a concept that most tech gadgets and companies consider to be a feature instead of something that should be entangled with the original product itself. Then again, considering the historical treatment of disabled individuals across history, are we even surprised? For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which enforced ramp installments across buildings in the USA wasn’t implemented until 1990. That’s just about three decades ago; if that’s how long it took to install ramps for wheelchairs, suffice it to say that tech gadgets aren’t really playing their full hand at making their interfaces more accessible. However, especially in recent years, there have been strides made in the interest of helping disabled individuals interact with their technological environment better. While one could argue that features such as speech-to-text were only introduced to help add new commodities for the abled population, they’re still steps in the right direction.

2021’s seen some advancements in terms of providing the disabled population with new features that can help them access content more easily. Instagram and Snapchat added stickers to their stories that allow for the addition of closed captions. Closed captions, along with development of sign language support, was a main hallmark of Google Meet’s efforts towards accessibility. But, as the song goes, every two steps forward come with one step back. Closed captions, while a nifty feature, almost always need to be written out beforehand since AI can often mistake words for each other. E3 2021 was a massive example of this, with closed captions for the conference being egregious enough to warrant the question: why use them in the first place, right?

Apple, however, has had a pretty good time of it, and has been making its devices accessible for all individuals across the board since forever. There’s been the addition of the Voice Over app, a feature that supplements images with vocal descriptions to help the visually impaired, and SignTime, which allows users to engage with sign language interpreters in order to help facilitate conversations. However, as pointed out by many blind individuals, iOS 15 took out Siri’s ability to pull out call histories, voicemails, emails, and messages via voice command. Apple is working on rectifying this error as we speak.


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