Apple Marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2021 With ‘Powerful Software Updates’ For Disabled People


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Keeping with tradition, Apple this week celebrated Global Accessibility Day yet again this year by announcing a bevy of new accessibility features and services for customers with disabilities. In a press release published Wednesday on its Newsroom webpage, the Bay Area company described the additions as “next-generation technologies [that] showcase Apple’s belief that accessibility is a human right and advance the company’s long history of delivering industry-leading features that make Apple products customizable for all users.”

“At Apple, we’ve long felt that the world’s best technology should respond to everyone’s needs, and our teams work relentlessly to build accessibility into everything we make,” Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, said in the press release. “With these new features, we’re pushing the boundaries of innovation with next-generation technologies that bring the fun and function of Apple technology to even more people—and we can’t wait to share them with our users.”

The headliner feature is the introduction of AssistiveTouch to watchOS. A mainstay of iOS (and iPadOS) for years, AssistiveTouch is itself a suite of software tools that allow users with motor delays to control their device(s). With a tap, users can take a screenshot, open Control Center, and more on their iPhone or iPad; the AssistiveTouch menu is customizable, so users can adapt it suit their needs or preferences. The idea behind AssistiveTouch is many users lack the dexterity (and/or cognition) to perform relatively elaborate gestures like swiping or repeated taps on a touchscreen. The “one-click” nature of AssistiveTouch consolidates complex movement into a single motion.

AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch is conceptually identical to its iOS brethren; the implementation, however, is radically different. The end result is something that perfectly encapsulates Apple’s “signature move” so to speak. In a clever interplay of hardware and software, AssistiveTouch…