There’s a reason why Apple’s iPhone has such a huge share of the mobile phone market in Australia (and across the world). Apple’s technology and innovations are truly life-changing, and the suite of Accessibility features in the latest software release (iOS15) do not disappoint.
If you’re living with disability, vision or hearing loss, mobility restrictions, or a cognitive disorder, your iPhone can be an amazing assistant!
Here’s a rundown of all of the features that are available to assist you with hearing, vision, mobility and cognition.
Accessibility features for hearing
1. Never miss a sound!
Your iPhone (or iPad) has something called Sound Recognition. This feature can alert you when a particular sound occurs, such as your doorbell ringing, a dog barking, or a baby crying.
2. Sign language
Apple’s FaceTime technology allows you to communicate with friends and family using sign language. The video-call app provides crisp and clear picture so you won’t miss a thing. Did you know that FaceTime can even detect when you are signing? When it does, it makes you more prominent on the screen, particularly if it is a group video call.
3. Headphone Accommodations
With this feature, you can set up as many as nine hearing profiles on your iPhone. Customise the settings to amplify softer sounds, or cut out background noise so that you can hear speech more clearly. You can upload your own audiogram if you already have one, or the app can take you through a variety of hearing tests so that you can set up and customise your hearing profiles.
4. Custom hearing devices
Apple have collaborated with a number of leading hearing device manufacturers to create hearing aids that sync seamlessly with your iPhone. They connect via Bluetooth and provide superior sound quality – plus, you can upload pre-set hearing profiles that will adjust depending on the environment you are in, eliminating the need for additional remote controls or manual adjustments.
5. Your AirPods Pro can function as a hearing aid!
A little-known fact about AirPods Pro is that they can actually function as a hearing aid through two features, called Conversation Boost and Live Listen. These features boosts the clarity and volume of the person speaking, and shuts out background noise.
Accessibility features for mobility
1. Voice Control
The Voice Control feature allows you to navigate your iPhone or other Apple devices with just the sound of your voice. Your voice can replace tapping, clicking or typing gestures, allowing you to select, drag, drop, or write without needing to lift a finger.
2. Alternative input
This one is pretty amazing! Your iPhone’s camera can track your head and facial movement, allowing you to control many actions on your device with simple head movements. If you use an iPad, you can install eye-tracking apps that will move the cursor by following your eyes, and extended eye-holds or blinking will perform ‘click’ or ‘tap’ actions.
The AssistiveTouch feature allows you to customise your iPhone’s touchscreen to suit your physical needs. You can set up any type of gesture you like and choose which action it performs. So, if the standard iPhone gestures are difficult or don’t work for you, you can swap them with a gesture that does.
Siri is Apple’s built-in artificial intelligence ‘bot’. Siri can perform a huge number of actions without you ever having to touch your device. You can ask Siri to send a text message, look something up online, play you a podcast, call a friend, find an old photo…you can even set up a series of actions that occur with a simple phrase. For example, you can start your day by saying “Good morning, Siri”, and Siri can tell you the weather, the latest news updates, and then play you your favourite music playlist.
Siri’s capabilities feel endless and continue to improve with each iOS update.
Accessibility features for vision
Apple’s VoiceOver technology is industry-leading and can read to you everything on your screen. This includes detailed descriptions of people in photos, graphs and other images, meaning you won’t miss a thing!
2. VoiceOver + Braille Screen Input
Not only can VoiceOver clearly describe everything happening on your screen, it can also do so in braille. Users can enter braille directly into their touchscreen, or hook up an external braille keyboard. Braille is automatically converted to text so that sighted people can follow along in real time.
3. Reduced Motion
When the Reduced Motion feature is activated, certain on-screen movements are subdued so that anyone who has motion sensitivity will not be overly stimulated or affected. This feature lessens the strain on the eyes and ensure that in-app motions are kept simple and subtle.
4. Text size, Magnifier and Zoom
These three features allow you to enlarge all text so that it is more easily read, magnify any section of the screen you want, or zoom in on a particular area.
With the Magnifier app, you can change the colour of the area you’ve magnified, add light to it, or add a filter in order to make it clearer and easy to view.
This feature allows you to dictate what you want to write. Simply tap the microphone icon on the on-screen text keyboard and speak away! It can dictate in 30 different languages, and includes punctuation.
Accessibility features for cognition
1. Background Sounds
Reduce annoying or overly-stimulating background noises with this feature and replace them with calming ambient noise such as ocean waves or the sounds of a quiet rainforest.
2. Facial Recognition
This incredible technology recognises the people in your photos. For people who have memory difficulties or dementia, the Facial Recognition feature can help to identify the people in your photo albums.
3. Safari Reader
The world wide web can be full on and a sensory overload! If you find that browsing online is overwhelming, Safari Reader can cut out all of the extra noise and allow you to focus on what you’re actually looking for. This features eliminates ads, banners, search bars and buttons, making the content you’re reading clear and concise.
4. Dark Mode
Dark Mode is a feature that darkens certain elements on your screen, making it easier on the eyes. Unnecessary features will melt into the background, letting your eyes relax and focus on what matters.