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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and to highlight the milestone, TechCrunch did interviews with several tech companies and advocacy organizations, including Apple, to discuss how technology has improved the everyday lives of people with disabilities.


At Apple, TechCrunch spoke to Sarah Herrlinger, the company's Director of Global Accessibility Policy. According to Herrlinger, Apple has "always believed accessibility is a human right," which is a value that Apple keeps in mind with each new product that's released.

Apple has always been dedicated to making its products accessible for everyone, and implements new accessibility features with each and every new software release. According to Herrlinger, Apple's iPhone has become the most powerful assistive device ever.
"The historical impact of iPhone as a mainstream consumer product is well documented. What is less understood though is how life changing iPhone and our other products have been for disability communities," said Herrlinger. "Over time iPhone has become the most powerful and popular assistive device ever. It broke the mold of previous thinking because it showed accessibility could in fact be seamlessly built into a device that all people can use universally."
One of the most important features that the iPhone has to offer, as TechCrunch points out, is VoiceOver. VoiceOver is an accessibility feature that reads the contents of the iPhone's screen to allow those with visual impairments to navigate through iOS. Over the weekend, Kristy Viers demonstrated how she uses her iPhone, and it's a great look at how VoiceOver and other accessibility features work.

Herrlinger said that there's opportunity for growth in the tech industry when it comes to accessibility, and that "representation and inclusion are critical."
We believe in the mantra of many within disability communities: 'Nothing about us without us.' We started a dedicated accessibility team in 1985, but like all things on inclusion -- accessibility should be everyone's job at Apple.
Apple in iOS 14 is introducing multiple new accessibility features like Back Tap for tapping on the rear of the iPhone to perform actions, Headphones Accommodations for amplifying soft sounds and adjusting frequencies to make music, movies, calls, and more sound clearer, and Sound Recognition, a feature able to listen for certain sounds like alarms and send alerts.

There are also iOS 14 improvements for VoiceOver that use on-device intelligence to recognize elements on the screen and to offer support for app and web experiences that don't have built-in accessibility support.

TechCrunch's full ADA article also includes comments from Microsoft, Facebook, and others, and can be read over on the TechCrunch website.

Article Link: Apple Accessibility Exec: 'iPhone has Become the Most Powerful and Popular Assistive Device Ever'


macrumors 603
May 14, 2012
Unfortunately you can't turn off the backlight for the LED iPhones. You can dim the screen and use the screen curtain but it's still on. There's not even an option to disable OLED emitters while still allowing touch input.
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macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
Not working for me. I don’t have a Twitter account, if that makes a difference. IPad Pro 11 on iOS 14. DB 3. I have noticed lately, that none of the Twitter links on the forum work when I click on them.
Taps on twitter links don’t work for me on MR, I always have to long press, give that a shot. iOS 13
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macrumors 6502
Oct 22, 2007
A video about accessibility ... is inaccessible.

No subtitles so all I hear is "blablablahbla" and I have no idea what's being said.

Nice. :(


Sep 21, 2012
In the middle of several books.
Taps on twitter links don’t work for me on MR, I always have to long press, give that a shot. iOS 13
Thank you very much. That worked.
A video about accessibility ... is inaccessible.

No subtitles so all I hear is "blablablahbla" and I have no idea what's being said.

Nice. :(
You have to manually turn on the sound in the video.
  • Haha
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macrumors 6502
Oct 22, 2007
Thank you very much. That worked.

You have to manually turn on the sound in the video.

I did, but unfortunately I can't find a way to turn on captions, and my profound hearing impairment means without that assistance I can't make out the words. She's mumbling more than most people do, on top of that.
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macrumors 68040
Mar 27, 2004
Eastern USA
Most powerful? That may very well be true, in a narrow sense. But saying "most popular" is a bit hyperbolic. There are low-tech devices which likely own that title.
It’s just an exectutive lauding a product apropos of a particular segment. Just the public-facing language of corporate leadership. Completely common and totally fine.


Jul 21, 2011
Most powerful? That may very well be true, in a narrow sense. But saying "most popular" is a bit hyperbolic. There are low-tech devices which likely own that title.
I don’t think you quite understand the amount of thought and design work Apple has put into accessibility on both iOS and macOS. Just because other devices are great at accessibility doesn’t mean apple deserves the recognition for accessibility. This is coming from a designer.

I’m the first in line to critique Apple on a lot of what they do.But this is just something you can’t take away from them.


macrumors 6502a
May 10, 2017
San Francisco Bay Area
As a developer, I know how much push Apple gives for Accessibility. During a previous WWDC I attended, there was an evening event where physically challenged Apple employees were available for developers to interact with. As you might imagine, Apple employs people with various disabilities as test group for its accessibility features. We could take our apps and get these people to use it and get feedback from them. These are facilities a typical developer cannot afford. And also, just that interaction motivates developers to improve support for accessibility.

MacKay Olson

macrumors newbie
Jul 27, 2020
I have to say, as a hearing-impaired person, apple’s dedication to helping people like me is absolutely amazing. Years ago, Apple was the only company that made it possible to Bluetooth your hearing aids directly to the phone (not using a separate gadget as a go between). It’s seamless and amazing. It makes being hearing impaired an advantage rather than a drawback as it is at all other times. Android just got that feature this year and it only works on 3 different phones and two (rather inferior) types of hearing aids.


macrumors 6502
Feb 2, 2005
As much as I hate the iOS-focus Apple has brought to every part of the company including the Mac, I really applaud this effort. Amazing. I hope they continue to lead in this arena.
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macrumors 68020
Dec 23, 2015
I am proud of Apple for the work they have been doing in this area over the last several years. I hope they continue their focus and help make the iPhone a tool that becomes an extension of a disabled person’s body even more so than today.

Try several decades. Apple has been leading in accessibility features since the inception of personal computing. These are not things you "add" after you design something, they have to be factored in during your design decisions.


macrumors 65816
Mar 9, 2009
Yes, it’s a very powerful and useful device. Which is why it should have USB-C so that it’s not freaking annoying to use.


macrumors 68000
Oct 28, 2011
This reminds me of a great experience when I worked in a phone store.

I was at the counter when a man came up with his wife and daughter who looked in her early teens. He was looking for a new phone for her but seemed lightly irritated that the whole experience was going to be difficult.

I was one of the Apple Experts in the store so I knew iPhone over most the others and started explaining his options, he seemed hesitant on iPhone due to the price per month being higher than most the Android phones. During the conversation I noticed the daughter wasn’t saying anything and I kept trying to include her in the conversation.

He wanted to actually see some of the features available so I explained I mostly knew iPhone and could show him that and that the Android phones would have something similar and I could get someone else to demo that.

It was while standing at the iPhones her Dad mentioned she was mostly deaf didn’t speak and used a computer device at home to communicate. I immediately remembered the speak action you could enable to any text and turned it on on the display model, I wrote something to to girl after getting her name (I think it was Georgia) ‘Hey what do you think this?’

When I made it speak the look on her Dads and her face I’ll always remember. She knew what I had done cause she took and phone and wrote back ‘This is so cool!’ And made it speak. It was so thrilling to see how happy she was and she started then communicating with me about more things she could do.

They ended up waiting for an appointment (we ran our busy store sort of like Apple) and getting the phone (iPhone SE) that day. I didn’t sit down and serve them but her Dad came and said thanks while leaving.

This was like 5 years ago and still makes me smile :)
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