Apple rolls out software updates designed for people with disabilities


SAN FRANCISCO, (Xinhua) — Apple launched on Thursday a new service called SignTime, enabling customers to communicate with AppleCare and Retail Customer Care by using sign languages in their web browsers.

Customers visiting Apple Store locations can also use SignTime to remotely access a sign language interpreter without booking ahead of time. SignTime will initially launch in the United States, Britain, and France, with plans to expand to additional countries in the future, the company said.

It is part of Apple’s software updates designed for people with mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive disabilities.

Later this year, with software updates across all of Apple’s operating systems, people with limb differences will be able to navigate Apple Watch using AssistiveTouch. The iPad will support third-party eye-tracking hardware for easier control.

For blind and low vision communities, Apple’s VoiceOver screen reader will use on-device intelligence to explore objects within images. In support of neurodiversity, Apple is introducing new background sounds to help minimize distractions, and for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, Made for iPhone (MFi) will soon support new bi-directional hearing aids, according to the company.

“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,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives.