How a simple Apple feature is changing lives

“On April 3, 2012, Christopher Hills posted a clip to his YouTube account,” Charlie Warzel reports for BuzzFeed. “In the three-minute video, Hills squarely addresses his webcam from what looks like his childhood bedroom. On the white walls behind him are a smattering of posters of high-end sports cars, jets, and rocket ships — it’s the kind of teen bedroom that’s been home to countless YouTube rants, confessions, and reviews.”

“But Hills’s demeanor is serious as he begins talking about the rise of smartphones, tablets, and touchscreen technology,” Warzel reports. “‘I am going to show you how touchscreens help me,’ he says to the camera. Moments later, we see Hills in his wheelchair, facing a desk with an iPad perched atop. We watch Christopher, a resident of Queensland, Australia, move forward slightly, struggle for a moment, and then pause, unable to reach the iPad screen.”

“‘I keep reading things about the touchscreen overtaking the mouse and keyboard and this really scares me,’ he confesses into the camera. Hills’ Athetoid cerebral palsy has left him unable to walk or use his hands, and, at that moment in 2012, his fears were understandable,” Warzel reports. “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.

Much more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s work on accessibility deserves sustained applause. May they never stop innovating. In fact, and especially with Apple Watch now available, we hope Apple doubles down on accessibility!

How the Apple Watch is opening up new ways to communicate – May 20, 2015
You know, blind people can actually use touchscreens – January 29, 2015
iPad app brings Braille keyboard to blind users’ fingertips – January 24, 2015
Apple patent applications reveal In-App features, fingerprint scanning enrollment and accessibility inventions – July 31, 2014
OS X Mavericks: How to control your Mac with your voice – April 9, 2014
Can Apple help make hearing aids cool? – March 10, 2014
Apple files new patents relating to haptics, Thunderbolt, iSight and improved accessibility for the hearing impaired – August 23, 2012
Inside Apple’s OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion: New iOS-style Accessibility – July 18, 2012
Stevie Wonder thanks Steve Jobs, praises Apple for iOS accessibility – September 15, 2011
Good news for music fans with vision loss: Apple adds accessibility features to iPod nano and iTunes – September 18, 2008

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. Apple has had “Easy Access” as a system add on since the mid 80s (at least as early as Mac System 3.0 and Apple System 6.0 — though I may not be remembering earlier instantiations).

    Some things the popular media get completely wrong, e.g., the Wikipedia page on “Sticky Keys” says that it was introduced with Windows 95 and does not mention the Mac at all, while in fact it was in Mac System 3.0 in 1986 — and may have been earlier.

    Apple’s interest in making computers accessible and useful to more the disabled has been going on for more than 30 years, but few seem to notice.

    1. Get yourself a Wikipedia account and do some editing, or at least post your objections there. Since the media mine Wikipedia instead of traditional fact checking, it’s important that real, unbiased experts correct these articles.

    2. Apple’s commitment to accessibility goes right back to the days of the first Macs in 1984. The instruction manual ( are you old enough to remember the days when computers came with a printed manual? ) had a chapter in large print explaining how to turn on and use the features that would assist those with visual impairments.

  2. “People with disabilities often find themselves in a struggle to have their human dignity acknowledged, they frequently are left in the shadows of technological advancements that are a source of empowerment and attainment for others, but Apple’s engineers push back against this unacceptable reality, they go to extraordinary lengths to make our products accessible to people with various disabilities from blindness and deafness to various muscular disorders.

    I receive hundreds of e-mails from customers every day, and I read them all. Last week I received one from a single mom with a three year old autistic son who was completely non-verbal, and after receiving an iPad, for the first time in his life, he had found his voice. I receive scores of these incredible stories from around the world and I never tire of reading them.” — Tim Cook, Auburn University 2013

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