The US communications authority FCC has awarded Apple a prize for accessibility in the iOS operating system. The coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on communication behavior, and accordingly, accessibility is becoming more and more important in order not to exclude people with disabilities from technical communication tools, the authority said.
What’s new in iOS accessibility
Apple received the FCC Chair’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility for new features in iOS 14. The communications authority considered it to be particularly important the person recognition integrated in Apple’s magnifying glass function, which records and reads the distance to people in its own environment using a lidar scanner. This helps users to maintain the physical distance according to the guidelines of the health authority.
VoiceOver recognition, which reads texts in apps and on websites, was also highlighted. With this function, the iPhone can also describe images, including the live view in the camera’s viewfinder. A FaceTime function was given special mention by the FCC, which highlights participants in a video conference when they use sign language. In addition, the authority referred to the noise detection, with which the iPhone can indicate certain noises in the area with a notification.
Home office brings new challenges
This noise recognition has gained in importance, especially through home office work, which often takes place alone, explained an Apple manager when the (virtual) acceptance of the award, referring to feedback from deaf and hard-of-hearing users. A deaf customer only noticed that his young daughter had accidentally locked herself in the bathroom when he heard the sound of crying on his iPhone, the manager said. In addition to Apple, the FCC also awarded a Covid 19 hotline with sign language and a drug delivery service that specializes in the blind.