No sight, but a vision of accessible future at Apple

By : |July 11, 2016 0

Blindness is not a limitation, but an opportunity, and Apple engineer Jordyn Castor is proving that in the most spectacular way. The 22-year old, who was born blind due to an early delivery, has been the star employee for Apple’s technology division for blind tech.

Castor, who has fought against expectations since her birth when the doctors could find little to revive a 2 pound baby, says her parents always encouraged her to defy expectations of people with disabilities, motivating her to be adventurous, hands-on and insatiably curious.

 

It was that spirit that led to her interact with technology, whether it was the desktop computer her family bought when she was in second grade, or the classroom computer teachers encouraged her to use in school.

CIOL No sight, but a vision of accessible future at Apple

She says the adults in her life would often hand her a gadget, telling her to figure it out and show them how to use it. And she would.

“I realized then I could code on the computer to have it fulfill the tasks I wanted it to,” says Castor, whose current work focuses on enhancing features like VoiceOver for blind Apple users. “I came to realize that with my knowledge of computers and technology, I could help change the world for people with disabilities. I could help make technology more accessible for blind users.”

The perspective of people with disabilities is often or almost always ignored in corporate. But Apple’s keenness to include the blind and low-vision community as part of its innovation-in-accessibility project opened up opportunity for a blind, but tech-savvy talent.

Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives at Apple, says a notable part of the company’s steps toward accessibility is its dedication to making inclusivity features standard, not specialised. This allows those features to be dually accessible — both for getting the tech to more users, as well as keeping down costs.

Herrlinger says the company loves what it makes, and wants what it makes to be available to everyone. She describes the need to continuously innovate with accessibility in mind as part of Apple’s DNA.

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