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Apple details Watch accessibility features in website update

Consumers with visual or aural impairments will have several options for making the Apple Watch more accessible to them, Apple revealed this week, including the company's oft-lauded VoiceOver functionality and user interface customizations.




Visually-impaired users will find VoiceOver —a screenreader built in to OS X and iOS for years— compatible with all built-in Apple Watch apps and available in 14 languages, according to Apple's Accessibility microsite. The Watch's default font size can also be increased, and a special extra-large watch face is included.

Other existing iOS and OS X accessibility features like interface zoom, grayscale mode, and switch labels as well as the options to reduce transparency and motion have also made their way into the Watch.

For those with impaired hearing, the Watch an be set to use mono audio, sending both audio channels to a single ear to help alleviate missed music or notification sounds for users who are deaf or hard of hearing in one ear.

Additionally, the Watch's Taptic Engine can be configured with a special "Prominent Haptic" setting that pre-announces common alerts.

Apple has long been praised by rights groups for its accessibility practices, and iOS devices are often described by visually- and hearing-impaired people as having brought dramatic improvements to their quality of life. Last year, deaf travel writer Cherie King was featured in an iPad advertisement detailing the tablet's ability to help her travel independently and communicate around the world.

"My iPad lets me share my journey with the world," King is quoted as saying. "Other deaf people tell me they're traveling more now because they see it's possible."