How A Simple Apple Feature Called Switch Control Is Changing Lives
J Thoendell stashed this in Tech
For Hills, that fear and frustration began to subside after 2013. That’s when Apple introduced Switch Control, an accessibility feature that helps those with limited mobility to navigate, select, and manipulate iOS touchscreen devices with the click of a button, movement of the body, or any number of alternative inputs (blowing into a tube, etc.). Launched as a feature in iOS 7, Switch Control gave Christopher and thousands of others the opportunity to finally take command of touch displays inside Apple’s applications as well as third-party programs, like games and browsers, without the use of expensive third-party devices. For Hills, though, nothing was as satisfying or memorable as being able to perform the most elemental functions.
“The thing that comes to mind is the day I made my first phone call. I was 15. I was able to call mum at work. As you can imagine, this was a very big thing,” Hills told BuzzFeed News of using Switch Control for the first time.
For decades, accessibility technology has seemed an afterthought for the world’s most powerful technology companies, leaving those who require additional assistive features with largely outdated technology or, in the case of touchscreens, no access at all.” The biggest problem used to be a general lag in software,” Elizabeth Ellcessor, a professor at Indiana University who specializes in digital media and accessibility studies told BuzzFeed News. “Software would come out and companies wouldn’t build in accessibility features for years and by that time the piece of software would be out of date,” she said.
For Hills, a gadget fan, the lag was excruciating. “When the iPhone came out, I was using these devices that were designed in the time of the Apple Newton and had not improved since then,”