INDIANAPOLIS — The newest iPhone software update made some big waves a few weeks back for its latest features that allowed users to express their creativity. But beyond those features were accessibility upgrades that are doing a lot to help those with disabilities.
The Sound Recognition feature can “actively listen” for certain sounds including alarms, barking dogs, cars driving by, doorbells or knocks, even babies crying and alert the user.
Headphones can now also be used as listening devices to hear spoken words and frequencies better, though the feature is only compatible with iPhone or Beats by Dre earphones.
For those who use FaceTime, the app can now detect and recognize sign language and give the user more prominence in the conversation. This was an issue as FaceTime previously only recognized voices during a conversation.
For those who use them, accessibility features can also be accessed easier through a new feature called “Back Tap.”
“Which can be really helpful. Anytime you’re trying to access a device can sometimes be really challenging for people with disabilities, specifically getting access to certain accessibility features. For the longest time you had to dig through the menu system to find those accessibility features, but now they have this thing called back tap where you can either double tap the back of your screen, or triple tap the back of your screen, and you can launch other accessibility features or just standard features of the iPhone directly from just tapping the back of your phone. So it gives people another alternative access method to get access to those devices,” director of assistive tech for Easterseals Crossroads Brian Norton said.
The Back Tap feature does require set up by the user.
Accessibility features are certainly not exclusive to iPhone. Users can find plenty of accessibility features with Android phones that are comparable to the ones iPhone has. Norton says the bigger point is that technology can make a big difference and help those who need it, get access to tools that help them live full and independent lives.
“For folks with disabilities, it opens up a huge world for them, because they can just access it from a very small device. And again it’s one of those most accessible devices out there so it really lends itself to be pocket sized and carry it around with them and it gives them the tools they need to access it well,” he said.
If you are someone with a disability who needs a little help navigating the world you can reach out to groups like Easterseals Crossroads.