Starting May 20, Apple will launch SignTime, a new service that Apple customers can use to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL) in the US, British Sign Language (BSL) in the UK, or AppleCare and Retail Customer Care in French Sign Language (LSF) in France via web browser. Apple plans to roll out the same support in other countries.
The company will be rolling out software updates for all Apple operating systems later this year to enable these features.
Apple will introduce AssistiveTouch for watchOS. This feature allows people with different limbs to use AssistiveTouch to navigate the Apple Watch without touching the display or controls.
With AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch, users can easily answer incoming calls, control an on-screen motion pointer, and access the Notification Center, Control Center, and more.
“With built-in motion sensors like the gyroscope and accelerometer, plus the optical heart rate sensor and machine learning on the device, the Apple Watch can detect subtle differences in muscle movement and tendon activity that users can navigate with a cursor on the display through a series of hand gestures, such as a pinch or a pinch, ”explains Apple.
With a future update, Apple will enable the iPad to activate third-party eye-tracking devices. This way, users can only control the iPad with their eyes.
“Compatible MFi devices track where a person is looking at the screen and the pointer moves to follow the person’s gaze while enhanced eye contact performs an action such as a tap,” Apple said.
- By enhancing the VoiceOver feature, intended as a screen reader for the blind and visually impaired communities, Apple enables users to see more details about people, text, spreadsheet data, and other objects in pictures. This feature allows users to navigate a photo by rows and columns with table headings. “VoiceOver can also describe a person’s position along with other objects in pictures, so people can relive memories in detail, and markup allows users to add their own picture descriptions to personalize family photos,” added Apple.
- Apple has also announced that it will support new bi-directional hearing aids as an update to the MFi hearing aid range. The microphones in these new hearing aids allow the deaf or hard of hearing to have hands-free phones and FaceTime calls, Apple added.
- The company will also support audiogram detection – graphs showing the results of a hearing test – for headphone accommodations. This allows users to customize their audio with their latest hearing test results imported from a paper or PDF audiogram to suit their needs.
- Apple is also introducing new background sounds – balanced, light or dark, and ocean, rain, or stream sounds – to help users minimize distractions.
- Apple will replace sound actions for switch control with physical buttons and switches with mouth noises such as click, pop or EE sounds for users who do not speak and have limited mobility.
- Apple allows app-by-app customization outside of the display and text size for users with color blindness or other vision problems.
- The company will be reintroducing Memoji Adjustments to show users with oxygen tubes, cochlear implants, and a soft helmet for headgear.