Apple Vision Pro has a vision for disabled inclusion

Apple announced their long-anticipated new product category during their  WWDC 2023 keynote on June 5. Whilst the Vision Pro headset is undoubtedly exciting for everyone keen to explore mixed and virtual reality, there’s also a lot for disabled users – even blind users like myself – to enthuse about too.

Whilst the accessibility features for the new device (and its accompanying OS; Vision OS) weren’t covered in the keynote, we only had to wait a couple of days before being reassured that, like all other Apple devices, accessibility will remain front and centre. Aimed at developers wanting to build experiences for the new platform, here’s a video covering the features that will be available at launch sometime early next year.

What accessibility features does the Apple Vision Pro have?

An eye-tracked pointer and hand gesture (tapping forefinger and thumb together) can be used to select and activate apps and all other screen elements. For those with no control of their hands, Dwell Control allows you to dwell your eyes on a certain element long enough for it to be activated.

A screenshot of dwell control on the Vision Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

Can’t see the screen elements? You can review them one-by-one with gestures or voice commands - and everything will be spoken out using the built-in screen reader available on all Apple devices; VoiceOver.

Vision Pro hand gesture accessibility
(Image credit: Apple)

Alternatively, you can use Pointer Control which allows you to use a large wand that can be held in the hand or attached to certain fingers.

When watching media, or on a Facetime or Zoom call, subtitles can be customized to use your preferred font and made as large as required for easy viewing.

Screenshot of VisionPro accessibility adjustment settings
(Image credit: Apple)

Other settings allow you to reduce animations and transition effects to assist all those with a cognitive impairment or who may suffer from motion sickness.

A clear vision for an inclusive future

Yet again, Apple has shown that it prioritises accessibility in everything that it does. It’s clear that, come its release sometime next year, those with vision, hearing, motor or cognitive impairments will be able to participate in a meaningful way in the vision of a mixed reality future that Apple has portrayed so compellingly in this year’s WWDC. 
Now we just need developers to do their bit and help realise the potential of this new platform to include everyone in their amazing work.

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