Apple’s New Accessibility Features are a Huge Win for Users With Cognitive Disabilities

Our phones are always with us, so much so that it’s probably fair to call them an extension of us. Glued to the end of our arms for an average of 1365 hours per day, it’s not enough just to be a communications and entertainment device.

Over the years, Apple has looked inwards at our personal needs from a health and accessibility point of view to ensure that its products are reflective of humanity’s broad strokes. Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all,” and as such, varying needs require specific tuning from a software point of view.

Perhaps its most notable leaps and bounds in this space live within the Apple Watch, which has been pivotal in pushing the limitations of Apple’s health tracking – across hearing, heart, cardiovascular, and more – to the next level.

Each of these elements has been treated with strong consideration, bolstering the user experience. However, they’re redundant without ease of accessibility, which varies drastically for those with cognitive disabilities.

When utilizing a device, especially where its key component, communication, is concerned, the right access tools are essential.

Despite no official announcements being shared regarding iOS 17, Apple has previewed a slew of new accessibility features that will positively alter the user experience of iPhone users with cognitive disabilities.

Amongst updates like Assistive Access which can “distill apps and experiences to their essential features in order to lighten cognitive load,” and updated interface options, there are two big standouts.

For the millions of Apple users around the world that are unable to speak or are at risk of losing their voice, Live Speech is a game changer.

At its base level, this offers the option to save commonly used phrases to chime in quickly during lively conversation. The next level? Personal Voice allows you to create and save a voice that sounds like you and can read phrases on your behalf.

This feature, which seamlessly streamlines with apps like iMessage and FaceTime, requires you to create a 15-minute recording reading a set of randomized words and phrases, which is then used to create your Personal Voice.

While it may sound a little scary that your phone will boast the ability to speak just like you, Apple promises that these tools are kept private and secure. More than anything, there’s no denying that this will be life-changing for millions of people around the world.

There’s plenty more on offer – you can learn about everything to come from Apple in its bid to support users with cognitive disabilities via its online platform.

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