Technology improves for people with disabilities as firms respond to moral, legal demands

How a wave of new tech products are making life easier for people with disabilities

Edward C. Baig
USA TODAY

Retiree Douglas Wakefield is a tech enthusiast. 

The 76-year-old begins a typical day by donning his Apple Watch and listening to its synthesized voice deliver the weather. Over coffee, the Arlington, Virginia, resident catches up on overnight news on his iPhone X and consumes books read out loud on topics like coding – his goal is to write apps for the iPhone.

Blind since birth, Wakefield has been taking advantage of features on the most popular tech devices and platforms that have made them more useful to people with disabilities. 

These have meant big changes in the way he goes about his daily routine. A former broadcaster for the Department of Agriculture and later a computer specialist working in government, he uses Microsoft’s Seeing AI app for the iPhone to, among other purposes, scan barcodes that let him distinguish the groceries that are delivered: packages of crackers, or the Chardonnay his wife prefers to the Pinot Noir he favors. 

Previously, someone would have to tell him and his wife, who is also blind, which bottle was which.

Thanks to narration tracks on Netflix and Apple TV, he can take in a movie, following audio that depicts [...]

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