Apple works with Microsoft to create new braille standard | Cult of Mac

Apple works with Microsoft to create new braille standard


Accessibility is a major focus for Apple.
Photo: Stefan Malmesjö/Flickr CC

Apple is, rightfully, focused on accessibility issues with its products — and today it gave us one more reminder of that.

Working with other industry leaders, including Microsoft, Apple has helped develop a new standard for braille displays. It was announced by the non-profit USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) with the goal of making it easier for blind users to use computers.

The new USB Human Interface Device (HID) standard also removes the need for specialized or custom drivers. In addition, it should make it easier for developers to create software which works across various platforms.

Technology should be accessible

“Technology should be accessible to everyone and Apple designs all products with that in mind,” said Sarah Herrlinger, director of Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives at Apple. “We’re proud to advance this new USB-IF standard because we believe in improving the experience for all people who rely on braille displays to use their Apple products or any other device.”

“The new standard for braille displays will significantly narrow the gap in communication between people who are visually impaired, blind, or deaf-blind and their sighted and hearing counterparts,” said Joseph Bruno, president and CEO of Helen Keller Services. “It allows these individuals to more seamlessly connect to their favorite devices, which is a major step in helping them connect to the world around them. Helen Keller Services applauds the USB Implementers Forum and their members including Apple, Microsoft and other tech companies.”

The accessibility mission

Apple has long been working to improve accessibility to its products. Earlier this month, Apple marked Global Accessibility Awareness Day by highlighting the work it does to make macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS easier to use to those with disabilities.

In the case of the new braille standard, it’s not clear how big a role Apple played in the development process. Nonetheless, it’s great to see Apple put aside its differences with other companies — and its love of proprietary Apple-specific tech — to help embrace new standards.


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