Guide Dogs UK is launching its Tech For All service thanks to a pilot scheme in 2021, which will allow the charity to provide up to 2,500 iPads to visually impaired children to take advantage of Apple’s accessibility features found in iPadOS so far.
The charity launched a scheme in 2021 where around 5,000 iPhone and iPad devices were given to visually impaired children aged between three and eighteen, which turned out to be a huge success for all involved.
While iPadOS 16 brings new accessibility features (opens in new tab) such as port detection and Live Captions on FaceTime between an iPad, Mac and iPhone, the charity was won by the features currently offered during this pilot scheme. Emma Foulds, Director of Marketing and Strategy at Guide Dogs, explained: “We know from our research how important access to technology is and Tech for All is designed to empower children with vision loss with the tools they need to be more engaged, confident, and keeping pace with peers.”
Guide Dogs is currently launching the Tech For All scheme, offering apps for more visually impaired children who may also own an iPad, which can be accessed via this link (opens in new tab).
Analysis: Let’s see more of these schemes
When it comes to software, accessibility is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It may be invisible to many, but obvious to others, and companies like Apple and Microsoft are ensuring that anyone can use smart devices as well as anyone else.
In games, there are discussions about how text should be displayed in menus and speech bubbles, for example. Inside iOS (opens in new tab) and android (opens in new tab)there has been a big push in recent years on how different areas of software can work for users with disabilities, regardless of whether they are motor, visual, audio or otherwise.
The guide dog pilot scheme (opens in new tab) showed that a child’s confidence can grow when accessibility is included and, more importantly, recognized. Findings revealed that after just four months with an iPhone or iPad, a child’s reported autonomy increased by an average of 18%, along with engagement by 13% and sociability by 5%.
When it comes down to it, it’s trust that will appeal to kids here, and it will be interesting to see if other charities can take advantage of the accessibility features available on the devices we use every day. They are there to help those in need, to use resources that most of us use regularly without a second thought.
However, it’s an encouraging scheme that will help more kids, and with upcoming accessibility features coming in late 2022 with iPadOS 16 and other Apple software updates, many kids will benefit even more when these updates arrive.