Co-creator of Apple VoiceOver talks importance of accessibility tech

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Dean Hudson depends on VoiceOver, and helped develop it.
Dean Hudson, accessibility technical evangelist at Apple, was part of the original team behind VoiceOver.
Photo: Apple

Dean Hudson helped develop VoiceOver. With the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act approaching, he looks back on the creation of this Apple tech to describe what’s happening on iPhone and Mac displays to those who are blind or low vision.

Now accessibility technical evangelist at Apple, Hudson promises that Apple remains committed to enabling everyone to use its products. Because they’re life changing to those who need them.

Blind surfer shows how iPhone’s VoiceOver feature is a game-changer

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Scott Leason
Blind veteran Scott Laeson paddling out to surf.
Photo: Apple

Apple gave fans a heartwarming glimpse at how the iPhone and Apple Watch have helped a blind veteran gain more independence on his path to becoming a competition-winning surfer.

In a new post on its website, Apple shared a story about longboard surfer Scott Leason. After his time serving as a signalman in the U.S. Navy, Leason lost both of his eyes to a robber’s bullet in 1993. Getting used to his new life without sight took getting used to, but when Leason got his first iPhone in 2012, it was a gamechanger.

How the iPhone made accessibility accessible to everyone

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The iOS Magnifier: You probably had no idea your iPhone has a built-in magnifying glass.
You probably had no idea your iPhone has a built-in magnifying glass.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

iPhone turns 10 Damon Rose is 46, and has been blind since he was a teenager. In 2012, the iPhone changed his life.

Rose, a senior broadcast journalist at the BBC, uses GPS to get around unfamiliar areas, with an earbud stuck in one ear, and uses a third-party app that tells him what shops he’s walking past. It’s “amazingly helpful,” he told Cult of Mac. “I can look at menus on restaurant websites while I’m sitting there with my first drink of the evening,” instead of having the waiter read out the menu.

The iPhone might not have been the first phone with accessibility features, but it was certainly the first popular pocket computer to be easily useable by the blind and the hearing-impaired.

iOS bug exposes photos and messages on locked iPhones

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photos in ios 10
It's shockingly easy to get into someone's photos.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Hackers have discovered a new method to unlock photos and messages on any iPhone, thanks to an iOS security flaw that utilizes Siri and VoiceOver.

iPhones running iOS 8 software and newer are vulnerable to the flaw, which was discovered by EverythingApplePro and iDeviceHelp. The group revealed the hack in a new video that shows you don’t need any coding experience or special hardware to pull it off. All you need is a few minutes alone with a victims iPhone and some help from Siri.

Apple Stores to start stocking accessibility products in 2016

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Apple's focus on accessibility isn't going unrecognized.
Apple is stepping up its focus on accessibility.
Photo: Apple

Apple is reportedly set to start selling new accessibility-related peripherals and accessories for both Mac and iOS in its brick-and-mortar Apple Stores as well as online.

The accessories, which are reported to be going on sale in the first quarter of calendar year 2016, are designed to help users with disabilities to better engage with Apple products.

OS X 10.11.1 update brings new emoji, Microsoft Office fixes and more

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A new beta is out for OS X El Capitan.
A new beta is out for OS X El Capitan.
Photo: Apple

The first big update for OS X El Capitan has been released to the public today after months of beta testing of its new features and improvements.

OS X 10.11.1 brings more than 150 new emoji characters to the Mac, along with improved compatibility with Microsoft Office 2016, better VoiceOver reliability and numerous other bug fixes. The update can be now loaded through the Mac App Store or via the Software Update option in the Apple menu.

Here’s a full list of the improvements:

Apple receives Helen Keller Award for its pioneering VoiceOver feature

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Apple's focus on accessibility isn't going unrecognized.
Apple's focus on accessibility isn't going unrecognized.
Photo: Apple

Apple has been rewarded for its work in making technology accessible to blind users with a Helen Keller Achievement Award, given at an New York event yesterday evening.

Organized by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), Apple was specifically praised for VoiceOver, the iOS feature which reads out descriptions of everything happening on a device’s display.

Apple releases OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 with Wi-Fi and Spotlight fixes

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A new OS X Yosemite beta is here
Photo: Apple
Photo: Apple

Along with this morning’s iOS 8.1.3 update, Apple also has some new goodies for Mac users with the release of OS X Yosemite 10.10.2.

The update fixes a problem that caused Wi-Fi to disconnect. The latest version also includes a number of bug fixes for Spotlight, Bluetooth headphones, iCloud Drive and VoiceOver, while also improving stability and security in Safari.

The update is available now in the Mac App Store. Here’s a full list of the changes: