How Apple Leads The Market In Technology Accessibility

accessibility appleSince the early days of computers, Apple has been leading the pack around the issue of accessibility. As much as computers made the lives of many individuals easier, technological innovation had the potential to leave out large segments of the population who simply could not use the technology. Apple set out to change all that, expanding the scope of their brand, and in the process gaining a loyal group of customers and a lot of goodwill. Making accessibility a company value has helped Apple stand out from its competition.

Tools for Everyone

Apple has considered virtually every area when it comes to increasing the accessibility of their devices. Today, VoiceOver will read your screen to you if, for example, you have low vision that makes the text too difficult to see. Apple’s zoom capabilities are also impressive, as almost any Mac user knows. Even on a desktop it is simple to magnify your screen, while on Apple’s mobile devices, it takes only the swipe of two fingers to get a closer look at a small website. For those with visual impairments, these tools can be a blessing.

Apple has plenty on offer for the hearing impaired as well. iPhones are optimized for high performance with many types of hearing aids, making it easier to get your phone and hearing aids working together. Apple also offers closed captioning on movies and TV shows purchased through the Apple store, allowing viewers to read along if they can’t hear the audio.

Accessibility Builds Loyalty

These features are far from the only accessibility options that Apple offers, and they are always reaching into new areas, such as Braille displays. Moreover, from a marketing standpoint, Apple’s hard work on behalf of the disabled community has translated into significant brand loyalty. Other companies simply have not worked as hard at integrating accessibility tools into their technology.

It’s also important not to overlook the fact that what are called accessibility options are really part of universal design. Apple’s dictation software, for example, allows anyone to send messages hands free, not just those with visual or motor impairments that make typing a challenge. Similarly, many users are reliant on Apple’s zoom, particularly on iPhones where web pages may simply just be too small to use otherwise. And closed captioning is great for when you’ve forgotten your headphones – just turn off the sound and enjoy! Apple’s story is a clear example of why greater accessibility is good for everyone, not just people with disabilities.

Do you use any of the accessibility features on your Apple product? Tell us in the comments!

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Bird Pilatsky is a PhD student in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. A graduate of Smith College, with a B.A. in English and the Study of Women and Gender. She works as an archivist and research assistant with particular interests in LGBT issues, disability studies, and literature. Bird also works as a summer camp counselor. She has worked as an art & layout editor, runs an active blog, and enjoys reading, running, and rollerskating.

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