Working for People with Sight Loss

Apple announces host of accessibility features including Door Detection

Person holding iPhone displaying Apple Door Detection feature

Today, May 19, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and Apple has announced several new accessibility features to mark the occasion. We will be speaking about these new features in one of our upcoming podcasts and list below the most relevant ones for people with sight loss.

Door Detection

One of the new features is called Door Detection, which Apple says can help users locate a door upon arriving at a new destination. Door Detection can help users understand how far they are from a door and describe its attributes, including whether it’s open or closed. If the door is closed, the feature can inform the user whether the door can be opened by pushing, turning a knob, or pulling a handle.

Door Detection can also read signs and symbols around the door, such as room numbers or the presence of an accessible entrance symbol. The Door Detection feature works with a combination of LiDAR, your iPhone or iPad’s camera, and machine learning. This feature is expected to available only on newer iPhones and iPads.

VoiceOver Improvements

VoiceOver, Apple’s screen reader for blind and low vision users, is adding support for more than 20 additional locales and languages, including Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

Siri Improvements

This one is really good; Apple is introducing a new feature to Siri called Siri Pause Time. Users can adjust how long Siri waits before responding to a request. This will help make using Siri a less frustrating experience and will help you get those messages off first time.

Apple Watch Quick Actions

There is a new feature coming to the Apple Watch called Quick Actions. With Quick Actions you will be able to use a double-pinch gesture to answer or end a phone call, dismiss a notification, take a photo, play or pause media in the Now Playing app, and start, pause, or resume a workout.

Other Improvements

  • Sound Recognition can be customized to recognize sounds that are specific to a person’s environment, like their home’s unique alarm, doorbell, or appliances.
  • The Apple Books app will offer new themes, and introduce customization options such as bolding text and adjusting line, character, and word spacing for an even more accessible reading experience.

According to Apple these features are set to come in software updates later this year.