Accessible Apple 2017-2018: The 12 Requests of Christmas - Day 10

iTunes icon

iTunes icon

This is the tenth post in our annual 12-part series covering the accessibility features we would like to see Apple bring to its products in the coming year. This series is being put together by Accessibility Editor Alex Jurgensen, with the help of several contributors.

For the tenth request of Christmas, we ask Apple to give to us:

10. Remote Audio Amplification, Audio Description, and Captions for iOS

Apple recently confirmed it had acquired Shazam, an app that helps identify songs, movies, and TV shows and already powers Siri's "What song is this?" functionality. Shazam also has technology for augmented reality (AR) or the overlaying of images/text over real live video feeds to augment what the user is seeing through the device's camera. Shazam's AR functionality is expected to bolster Apple's efforts in the field of AR that the company announced at its developer conference last June.

What we would like to see Apple do with the tech is apply it to the field of universal access. One way they could do so is by using Shazam's movie and TV show recognition support to provide remote audio amplification, audio descriptions, and alternate language tracks for the hearing impaired, blind/partially sighted, and foreign film watching communities respectively.

They could further apply their AR technologies to provide remote captions for the deaf/hard of hearing and foreign language film watching communities. By remote, we mean that Apple could offer these services through iOS on a secondary device that is not playing the primary media. All the secondary device's content would be powered by iTunes's existing library.

Implementing support for universal access content in this way could lead to entirely new experiences in the home and cinema. No more would hearing impaired, blind/partially sighted, deaf/hard of hearing, and foreign film watching movie people need to worry about going to the cinema only to be told the device they require for access to a film is not working/not available. No more will they require everyone in the room to be in on the audio amplification, audio description, captions, or alternate language experience. It would be a huge shift in the way universal access entertainment is delivered and Apple now has all the pieces to make it happen.

For more things we'd like Apple to include in upcoming releases, please see:

9. More Reliability When Using Dictation

8. A Camera Accessory and FaceTime App for the Apple TV

7. An iPhone SE 2

6. More Support for Audio Ebooks in iBooks

5. An Ultra-Simple Router Experience That Uses the Tech We Already Have

4. A Smarter Way to Order Cabs with Siri

3. A Fix to a Not So Long-Standing Mail Bug

2. A Fix to a Long-Standing Mail Bug

1. Easier Web Browsing with VoiceOver

Accessible Apple articles take a significant amount of volunteer effort to put together. This year, we ask readers to consider making a donation to support the development of an independent living skills training centre for training Canadians who are blind, partially sighted, and deaf blind in independent living skills such as assistive technology, literacy, independent travel, cooking, etc. These skills are essential and training centres help provide them. More information and donation links can be found here.