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Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2023: Apple and Samsung launch ‘groundbreaking’ AI features

New features to help visually and hearing impaired people, as well as those with cognitive disabilities

Anthony Cuthbertson
Wednesday 17 May 2023 18:12 BST
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A pupil works with an iPad during a summer project at the primary school ‘Sonnenschule’ in Beckum, western Germany, on 6 July, 2021
A pupil works with an iPad during a summer project at the primary school ‘Sonnenschule’ in Beckum, western Germany, on 6 July, 2021 (AFP via Getty Images)

Apple and Samsung have unveiled a host of new features ahead of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on Thursday, aimed at making their phones and computers easier to use for disabled people.

New Apple features include an upcoming tool for iPhone and iPad users to make a digital clone of their voice in just 15 minutes, allowing ALS patients and other people at risk of losing their voice to store it for future use.

The Personal Voice feature was announced alongside a new setting to help people with cognitive disabilities called Assistive Access, which aims to simplify the user interface to large, easy-to-read buttons.

Low vision users will also be assisted with a new Magnifier app called Point and Speak that uses AI and machine learning to identify objects and provide an audio description of what the camera is facing.

“At Apple, we’ve always believed that the best technology is technology built for everyone,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “Today, we’re excited to share incredible new features that build on our long history of making technology accessible, so that everyone has the opportunity to create, communicate, and do what they love.”

Other features include Assistive Access, Live Speech and more (Apple )

Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s senior director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives, added: “These groundbreaking features were designed with feedback from members of disability communities every step of the way, to support a diverse set of users and help people connect in new ways.”

Apple is also hosting an event in collaboration with Guide Dogs at its Birmingham store on Thursday, where it is training the charity’s habilitation and rehabilitation staff how to use its accessibility features in order to better support the organisation’s members.

Samsung marked Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which takes place on 18 May, by announcing a new way to help people who are hard of hearing with its Galaxy Buds2 Pro earphones.

Two new additional levels of amplification were added to its Ambient Sound feature, which is designed to help people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss to better communicate in quiet places.

“We are excited to be introducing the new enhanced accessibility feature of the Galaxy Buds2 Pro to users on Global Accessibility Awareness Day,” said Han-gil Moon from Samsung’s Advanced Audio Lab. “Samsung will continue to work to help each and every user experience the best possible audio anytime, anywhere with their Galaxy Buds2 Pro.”

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