Apple puts accessibility features front and center


Although the meat of Apple’s accessibility news from WWDC has been covered, there still are other items announced that have relevancy to accessibility as well. Here, then, are some thoughts on Apple’s less-headlining announcements that I believe are most interesting from a disability point of view.

Accessibility goes above the fold
One of the tidbits I reported during the week was that Apple moved the Accessibility menu (on iOS 13 and iPadOS) to the top level of the Settings hierarchy. Instead of drilling down to Settings > General > Accessibility, the accessibility settings are now a “top level domain,” in the same list view as Notifications, Screen Time, and so on. Apple also told me this move applies to watchOS 6 as well.

Similarly, Apple said they’ve added accessibility to the first-run “setup buddy” experience. When someone sets up a new iPhone or other device for the first time, the system will prompt them to configure any desired accessibility features such as VoiceOver.

Both changes are long overdue and especially important symbolically. While it may not affect the average user much, if at all, the fact Apple is making this move speaks volumes about how much they care for the accessibility community. By moving Accessibility to the front page in Settings, it gives disabled users (and by extension, accessibility) just a bit more awareness.

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