Apple shines light on accessibility features for users with disabilities in high-energy ad
Ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities this week, the tech giant has kicked off a powerful new ad campaign that aims to empower users with disabilities.
Apple today unveiled a new ad designed to spotlight the various accessibility features of its devices, including screen reading and screen magnifying capabilities, noise recognition features, door detection and Siri voice commands.
The joyful two-and-a-half-minute spot, created by Apple’s in-house creatives, depicts users with various disabilities making the most of their iPhones, Apple Watches and Mac products. A woman uses Apple’s AssistiveTouch feature to navigate images on her iPhone using her toes; a blind musician taps into the power of Apple’s Audio Descriptions and VoiceOver tools to get a sense of what’s on his screen and in the room around him; a fashionable man in a power wheelchair uses Apple Voice Control to tell his iPhone when to snap photos. To assist folks with low vision or blindness, the film includes support for audio descriptions.
The spot, entitled ‘The Greatest,’ is set to the cheery tune of I Am the Greatest (with Marliya Choir) by Spinifex Gum featuring Cola Boyy and Matthew Whitaker – a selection that injects the scenes with a sense of empowerment.
“At Apple, we believe accessibility is a human right,” reads a description beneath the YouTube video of the ad. “Innovative features such as door detection, sound recognition and voice control are designed to let you use your devices in ways that work best for you.”
The campaign was launched ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which falls on Saturday December 3. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the observance since its initiation by the United Nations in 1992.
Apple’s new campaign aligns well with the theme for this year’s observance, which, according to the United Nations’ website, is focused on “the role of innovation in fueling an accessible and equitable world.”
It’s also especially timely considering the recent accessibility controversies that have rocked the tech and media landscape. Earlier this week, former Waze chief executive officer and head of the Twitter challenger Post News Noam Bardin said that his company is “not focused on” accessibility until it can get “everyone in.”
The statement invited immediate and harsh backlash. Economist and professor at American University and Georgetown University Jon Schwabish tweeted in response to Bardin’s statement: “From what I’ve learned from folks in the #accessibility field, two things are going to happen here: 1. A large number of people are going to be excluded from the platform. 2. Accessibility will never be a priority and never done correctly because it wasn’t baked in at the start.”
For Apple, the new ad may also serve as an inadvertently delicious dig at Elon Musk. The Tesla chief executive – whose recent takeover of Twitter has been riddled with controversy – has been lambasting Apple in a series of tweets this week, decrying the company’s policy of taking a 30% commission on all apps listed in its App Store. The billionaire also reportedly slashed Twitter’s entire accessibility team earlier this month in his firing spree, which saw 50% of the company ousted.
Fans appear largely impressed with Apple’s new campaign and the products it promotes. American technology and science writer David Pogue, who reports for CBS News Sunday Morning, tweeted in praise of the ad earlier today, writing: “I know it’s fundamentally an ad, but it’s also super powerful.”
Apple’s accessibility dept has just put out this video, to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities (Dec 3). I know it’s fundamentally an ad, but it’s also super powerful. https://t.co/AAgAA9Cist
— David Pogue (@Pogue) November 30, 2022
Users on the Apple-centric news aggregator and blog site MacRumors chimed in to express their support for the effort. One user, who claimed to be a former creative at Apple, said: “I excelled in accessibility features. Teaching new Apple ‘converts’ these features was the most satisfying work I ever did.”
Another expressed awe at the range and depth of the tech titan’s accessibility features: “I had no idea the watch could detect sounds like a baby crying and alert the user. The depth of their accessibility features is astounding to me.”
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On a dedicated accessibility webpage on Apple’s site, users can find detailed descriptions of many of the tech maker’s top accessibility features, as well as accessibility support resources, a shopping section for accessibility-focused device accessories and tips and tricks for how to get the most out of various tools.
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