People Profiles: Apple Accessibility Evangelist Reflects On Company’s Assistive Technologies For Users With Disabilities
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

People Profiles: Apple Accessibility Evangelist Reflects On Company’s Assistive Technologies For Users With Disabilities

FEATURE: 07.31.20 – Apple last week, in honor of the 30th anniversary this month of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), spoke with its own technical evangelist of accessibility who shared their thoughts on how the assistive technologies found in the Cupertino, California-based company’s products helps users of its hardware and software in their daily lives.

About the Series

  • People Profiles is a special series that periodically runs here in the “Mac Potpourri” column which are human interest stories that feature individuals and their contribution to the community of Apple product users, either how they use it to help others or how it has helped them in their own lives (or even just related to it in general)
  • for more about the impetus and inspiration behind the series, see this introduction

(story continues after the break)


Apple technical evangelist of accessibility, Dean Hudson, pictured in the photograph above with his probing cane for the visually impaired, joined the Cupertino, California-based company in 2006 and is part of the team responsible for VoiceOver, a screen reader technology found on Apple’s hardware and devices. (Photo: Apple, Inc.)

Meet Dean Hudson, technical evangelist of accessibility at Apple, a visually impaired individual who joined the company in 2006 and was part of the original team behind VoiceOver, a screen reader that enables people who are blind — legally, partially, or completely — or have low vision — to navigate Apple products such as the Mac, devices like the iPhone and iPad, and even wearables like the Apple Watch.

“When the iPhone 3G S launched with VoiceOver in 2009, little by little, people really started getting into it, and now it’s amazing to see people who are blind and all sorts of people with disabilities using the device,” says Hudson.

“When my team started working on VoiceOver for the iPhone, there was a lot of exploration around things like what happens when you touch items on your screen. A sighted user can see it and decide where to touch. I have to touch in order to see it.”

Hudson had an early interest in computers. In the late 1970s, his siblings would read computer manuals to him and he would type in the programs. This would lead to him studying computer science in college where a person had to assist him with reading things on screens because, as he points out, screen readers — like Apple’s VoiceOver — did not yet exist at the time.

“I was really curious about making things happen on the screen,” says Hudson.

As the technical evangelist of accessibility at Apple, Hudson is responsible for ensuring that everyone has access to the same simple, easy to use technologies with each new product released by the company.

“Accessible technology should be very clear: there really should not be any layer between the things I can do on my iPhone [or Mac] and the things someone who doesn’t have a disability can do,” says Hudson.


Pictured in the photograph above using his MacBook Pro, Apple technical evangelist of accessibility, Dean Hudson, who is visually impaired, is able to use a Mac and read things on its screen thanks to technologies like VoiceOver, a screen reader for those who are blind or have low vision. (Photo: Apple, Inc.)

Hudson says that there are a lot of voices behind how specific features should work in Apple products, and, according to the company’s technical evangelist of accessibility, all of those voices are important because it makes the product much more customizable for users.

Two individuals who have disabilities themselves and rely on Apple products for assistance lent their voices to share how the company’s technology helps them with everyday tasks in their daily lives.

“With VoiceOver enabled, I’m able to navigate really well around the [Apple] software,” says jazz musician Matthew Whitaker.

A specific combination of Apple’s hardware and software which this visually impaired jazz musician uses to record his songs is Logic Pro X on a MacBook Pro. The Apple device that first introduced Whitaker to VoiceOver — a technology he taught himself how to use — was an iPod touch that was given to him by his dad, a fond memory that he vividly remembers.

I usually record the drums first, then I add bass, then add whatever else I need. Once the piece is completed, I can share the audio [with my band members]. Technology has given me the opportunity to share my music [with others].”

Whether it’s working on his albums, notating a piece of music, or composing or arranging a song, Whitaker says that he always is able to rely on his different Apple devices and apps to help him get the job done.

“It gets complicated trying to navigate it all [at times], but, from being able to copy and paste on my phone to my laptop, to putting reminders on my HomePod, to using Voice-to-Text, to saying ‘Hey Siri, schedule this meeting,’ and using Siri Shortcuts to get things done quicker with my voice? Just having the entire Apple ecosystem in my home saves me so much time, thought process, and energy with my hands,” says business owner Tatiana Lee.

Also an actor and model, as well as an inclusion activist trying to make Hollywood more accessible for those with disabilities, this business owner — who is paralyzed from the waist down from spina bifida — uses her hands a lot to do everything from pushing her wheelchair around and getting herself dressed to typing on her computer. To assist her with everyday tasks, Lee uses the entire Apple ecosystem: from Voice-to-Text on an iPhone to Siri on the HomePod.

“Technology makes my life a lot easier as a person who has multiple disabilitiess.”

**AD: looking for an Apple smart speaker to play out loud (in stereo sound) songs purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Store or playlists from your Apple Music subscription? Be sure to check out our exclusive HomePod price tracker right here on MacPrices for the lowest prices and latest deals and discounts.

Thirty years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by the late President George H.W. Bush, its benefits can be seen in Apple products like the hardware and software used by Whitaker and Lee or, in the case of Apple’s technical evangelist of accessibility, technology such as VoiceOver which Hudson and his team helped to design.

In addition to the jazz musician, the business owner, and the company’s own technical evangelist of accessibility, Apple also spoke to a speaker and author who has advocated for digital access for people with disabilities.

“While a deaf-blind student in college, I witnessed advocates using the Americans with Disabilities Act to force tech companies to render digital services accessible,” says speaker and author Haben Girma.

Impressed by the success of those advocates, this former disability rights lawyer felt inspired to join their cause and, in addition to litigating cases revolving around the ADA, this current speaker and author continues to advocate for the removal of ableism — the widespread assumption that disabled people are inferior to nondisabled people — in today’s society. As the first ever deaf-blind student to attend (and graduate from) Harvard Law School, Girma, whose studies centered on the Americans with Disabilities Act and technology, attributes assistive technologies designed with accessibility in mind for allowing her to be able to participate in classes and conduct legal research.

“Back then, and even now, I encountered many barriers in the digital world. Not because of my disability, but because of attitudes among tech developers who trivialize disability access. People, not tech, create ableist assumptions. Tech will perpetuate all the assumptions of its designers. Learning to identify ableism will allow people to catch and remove it.”

Since it was founded, Apple has been a pioneer in democratizing powerful technology through hardware and software designed for everyone. From VoiceOver and Text-to-Speech to Voice Control and Switch Control — including Apple’s AI (artificial intelligence) virtual assistant Siri — every product and service in the company’s ecosystem is designed with accessibility built in.

“Today people use technology in a variety of ways. [When] I went to school, [I] had a human read code to me on the screen, but now, people can use these tools and actually get a job as an engineer. That’s huge!” says Hudson.

A Note from the Author: This is the fifth edition of the People Profiles series here in the “Mac Potpourri” column. The subject of this story was not interviewed by this writer (as is normally the case) and most of the information herein was derived from this article. In addition, this story is one of a number of stories with Accessibility or disability related topics as its subject matter which this writer features periodically in this column due to his own disabilities (being visually impaired and partially hearing impaired) and, whenever the opportunity arises to share such stories, it is published here.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

BetterTouchTool 3.401 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom)... Read more
Vienna 3.5.6 :e12c952d: - RSS and Atom n...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
WhatsApp 2.2031.5 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
Day One 4.16 - Maintain a daily journal.
Day One is an easy, great-looking way to use a journal / diary / text-logging application. Day One is well designed and extremely focused to encourage you to write more through quick Menu Bar entry,... Read more
VMware Fusion 11.5.6 - Run Windows apps...
VMware Fusion and Fusion Pro - virtualization software for running Windows, Linux, and other systems on a Mac without rebooting. The latest version includes full support for Windows 10, macOS Mojave... Read more
Alfred 4.1 - Quick launcher for apps and...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more
Dashlane 6.2032.0 - Password manager and...
Dashlane is an award-winning service that revolutionizes the online experience by replacing the drudgery of everyday transactional processes with convenient, automated simplicity - in other words,... Read more
Skype 8.63.0.76 - Voice-over-internet ph...
Skype is a telecommunications app that provides HD video calls, instant messaging, calling to any phone number or landline, and Skype for Business for productive cooperation on the projects. This... Read more
Mellel 5.0.3 - The word processor for sc...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard for long form documents since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 11.20 - File, pho...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Motorball is a car football game from No...
A few years back Noodlecake Studios announced that they would be dipping in the multiplayer gaming realm with two different games. The first of those, Golf Blitz, released a while back and has proven to be very popular. Now, the second has arrived... | Read more »
SINoALICE's latest update introduce...
SINoALICE's latest update has now arrived, adding several fan-favourite characters from popular RPG series NieR. Young Nier, Kaine, and Young Emil are available in-game as part of a limited-time crossover event set to run until August 20th. [Read... | Read more »
Rocat Jumpurr is an intense roguelite pl...
Rocat Jumpurr is a roguelite platformer from developer Mousetrap Games. You might already be familiar with it if you follow the Big Indie Pitch, where it won first place during this year's Pocket Gamer Connects London competition. Following its... | Read more »
PUBG Mobile's Play As One campaign...
Back in mid-July, we reported that PUGB Mobile had teamed up with Direct Relief to help raise money for the charity's COVID-19 response project. It focused on an in-game running challenge for players, which lead to the PUBG Mobile donating $2... | Read more »
Marvel Contest of Champions' latest...
Marvel Contest of Champions' latest motion comic has arrived, and it shows off new fighters Air-Walker and Dragon Man. Both characters are set to arrive in-game this month. [Read more] | Read more »
Clash Royale: The Road to Legendary Aren...
Supercell recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and their best title, Clash Royale, is as good as it's ever been. Even for lapsed players, returning to the game is as easy as can be. If you want to join us in picking the game back up, we've put... | Read more »
Global Spy is an intriguing 2D spy sim f...
Developer Yuyosoft Innovations' Global Spy launched last month for iOS and Android, though if you missed it at the time, we're here to tell you why it's well worth a go. This one's all about international espionage, tracking down elusive spies,... | Read more »
Distract Yourself With These Great Mobil...
There’s a lot going on right now, and I don’t really feel like trying to write some kind of pithy intro for it. All I’ll say is lots of people have been coming together and helping each other in small ways, and I’m choosing to focus on that as I... | Read more »
Hyena Squad is sci-fi turn-based strateg...
Wave Light Games has just revealed its latest release, Hyena Squad, a turn-based RPG set in a space station infested by gross aliens and the living dead. The announcement was first reported on by Touch Arcade. [Read more] | Read more »
Idle Guardians: Never Die is a pixel art...
SuperPlanet has been fairly prolific with game releases so far this year with both Evil Hunter Tycoon and Lucid Adventure releasing earlier this year. Now, they've released another idle RPG called Idle Guardians: Never Die, which you can download... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Woot offers numerous 2018-2020 MacBook Pros a...
Amazon-owned Woot has many open-box return MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros available today at prices starting at $879. Shipping is free for Prime members. Here’s what they have as of this post, and... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 2020 13″ MacBook A...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2020 13″ MacBook Airs starting at only $849 and up to $200 off the cost of new Airs. Each MacBook features a new outer case, comes with a standard Apple one-... Read more
Apple restocks clearance 2019 13″ 2.4GHz MacB...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2019 13″ 2.4GHz 4-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros starting at $1359 and up to $560 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, shipping is free,... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished iPhone XR models s...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished, unlocked, iPhone XR models in the refurbished section of their online store starting at $539. Each iPhone comes with Apple’s standard one-year warranty,... Read more
Price drops! $100-$200 off clearance 27″ 5K i...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on clearance, previous-generation 27″ 5K iMacs by up to $200 off Apple’s original MSRP: – 27″ 3.0GHz 6-Core 5K iMac: $1699 $100 off original MSRP – 27″ 3.1GHz 6-Core... Read more
Woot offers Apple Watch and iPhone models fro...
Amazon-owned Woot has refurbished Apple Watch and iPhone models available from $99-$749 through August 6th. According to Woot, the items may show some wear, but they have all been fully tested and... Read more
Apple’s Phil Schiller Steps Down As SVP OF Wo...
NEWS: 08.05.20 – Former Apple senior Vice President of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, is stepping down from his long time role at the company in order to focus on spending more time with family... Read more
Expercom offers $320 discount on the 6-core 1...
Apple reseller Expercom has the Silver 16″ 6-core MacBook Pro on sale for a limited time for $2079 shipped. Their price is $320 off Apple’s MSRP for this model, and it’s the cheapest price currently... Read more
Apple announces Education pricing for new 202...
Purchase a new 2020 iMac or iMac Pro at Apple using Apple’s Education discount, and take up to $400 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution with a .edu email... Read more
Apple reseller Expercom offers $256 discount...
Expercom has Apple’s new 2020 10-core iMac Pro available for order and on sale for $4743 shipped. Their price is $256 off Apple’s MSRP for this new model, and it’s the cheapest price we’ve seen so... Read more

Jobs Board

Cub Foods - *Apple* Valley - Now Hiring Par...
Cub Foods - Apple Valley - Now Hiring Part Time! United States of America, Minnesota, Apple Valley New Retail Post Date 3 days ago Requisition # 122305 Sign Up Read more
Executive Team Leader GM Sales (Assistant Man...
…(Assistant Manager General Merchandise and Operations) - Apple Valley, CaliforniaApply NowJob ID:R0000082364job family:Store Managementschedule:Full Read more
Cub Foods - *Apple* Valley - Now Hiring Par...
Cub Foods - Apple Valley - Now Hiring Part Time! United States of America, Minnesota, Apple Valley New Retail Post Date 2 days ago Requisition # 122305 Sign Up Read more
Part-time Geek Squad *Apple* Consultation P...
**770829BR** **Job Title:** Part-time Geek Squad Apple Consultation Professional-Store 384(Ithaca) **Job Category:** Store Associates **Store Number or Department:** Read more
Product Manager, *Apple* Commercial Sales -...
Product Manager, Apple Commercial Sales Austin, TX, US Requisition Number:77652 As an Apple Product Manager for the Commercial Sales team at Insight, you Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.