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Apple talks accessibility ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day

In the run-up to Global Accessibility Awareness Day this Thursday, Apple has been highlighting a few of the ways that it has worked to make life easier for people with disabilities …

Two-time US Paralympian Austin Pruitt, above, told CNET that tracking his training was made very much easier by Apple offering wheelchair workouts on the Watch.

Pruitt has cerebral palsy from the knees down, which forces him to walk slowly, but he’s able to compete on the world stage by racing in a wheelchair. He said he used to set up a bunch of trackers on his chair to log his workouts, but now uses just an Apple Watch instead.

“This has everything,” he told me. “This has my wheelchair and my walking, all in one.”

Apple’s accessibility head Sarah Herrlinger said that the company aimed to continually improve the accessibility of its products.

Every year we try to add in new things. We do look at how can we make it slightly better year over year.

Some features, like paddle switches that pair with an iPad or Apple TV, were created specifically for disabled customers. But other functionality has benefits for all users, like voice control of HomeKit devices. Having the Camera app read barcodes is another example, being useful to everyone but offering particular value to some.

In the kitchen, a visually impaired person can use their iPhone to find specific spices by using a camera app to read their barcodes.

One nurse who uses a wheelchair says that Apple’s accessibility tools help ‘take disability out of the equation.’

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is aimed at encouraging developers, inventors and other creators to think about how to best ensure their products and services can be used by those with disabilities.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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