Apple Accessibility May 2021

Apple has announced a slew of accessibility features for its various products and services. The company says that its new features are designed for people with mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive disabilities. Plus, Apple Watch is getting new AssistiveTouch feature that will allow users to control their Apple Watch without ever having to touch the display or controls.

For neurodiversity support, Apple is adding a Background Sounds feature. It will minimize distractions to help users stay focus, stay calm, or rest. It is designed to provide balanced, bright, or dark noise sounds alongside ocean, rain, or stream sounds. These sounds can be set to play in the background to mask unwanted environmental or external noise.

Next is AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch, which is aided by the Watch’s gyroscope, accelerometer, and heart rate sensor. It will allow the device to detect subtle differences in muscle movement and tendon activity. Hence, allowing users to navigate a cursor on the Apple Watch’s display through a series of hand gestures, like a pinch or a clench. You can watch the below-embedded video to see how it works. It willenable customers who have limb differences to do stuff like answer incoming calls, control an on-screen motion pointer, access Notification Center and Control Center more easily.

Ahead of its WWDC 2021, Apple has announced that iPadOS is getting eye-tracking  support to enable users to control ‌iPad‌ with their eyes. There’s also a new feature called SignTime, which will allow customers to communicate with AppleCare using American Sign Language in the United States, British Sign Language (BSL) in the UK, or French Sign Language (LSF) in France using a web browser.

VoiceOver is getting improvements as well. It will let users explore more details about people, text, table data, and other objects within images. It can now describe a person’s position along with other objects in images. Plus, with Markup, users can add image descriptions to personalize their photos. Moreover, Apple is introducing new memojis to better represent users with oxygen tubes, cochlear implants, and a soft helmet for headwear.

The company is also launching support for bi-directional hearing aids. This feature will enable hands-free phone and FaceTime conversations. Further, Headphone Accommodations will gain support for audiograms. It will allow users to customize their audio by importing their latest hearing test results.

For users who are non-speaking and have limited mobility, Apple is introducing Sound Actions for Switch Controls. It replaces physical buttons and switches with mouth sounds — such as a click, pop, or “ee” sound. Further, display and text settings are said to be made customizable on per app basis. It will be helpful for users with colorblindness or other vision challenges.


I’ve been associated with the tech industry since 2014 when I built my first blog. I’ve worked with Digit, one of India’s largest tech publications. As of now, I’m working as a News Editor at Pocketnow, where I get paid to use and write about cutting-edge tech. You can reach out to me at [email protected]