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Apple’s new accessibility website uses video to show assistive tech in action

Sady Paulson bobs her head skillfully from side-to-side, gently hitting the red and yellow buttons fixed to her wheelchair’s headrest. Her head swings fluidly in a concentrated pattern: Left, left, right, left, right, left.

As she taps the buttons, she carefully selects a clip of the Golden Gate Bridge on her iMac, the red structure gleaming against pale blue waters. Using another series of button taps, Sady fast-forwards through the footage using a video editing program, plucking out a portion of waves lapping on the shore beneath the bridge. A few more taps of her head to the left, and the clip glides into place, finishing off a short film on San Francisco’s scenery.

This scene of Sady, a video editor living with cerebral palsy, navigating complicated software with the help of assistive tech is part of a new series of videos featured on Apple’s redesigned accessibility website. The new website launched on Oct. 27, timed with the company’s MacBook Pro event.

Unlike the previous version of the site, which displayed Apple’s disability-friendly technology through straightforward descriptions and static photos, the new site shows Apple’s assistive tech in action through short 30-second videos. It’s technology that is changing the lives of disabled people around the globe, enhancing the way they interact with the world on a daily basis.

“Technology can provide people with access and allow them to tap into their true abilities,” Sady tells Mashable via email. “It also allows people [without disabilities] to see that physical limitations do not define a person with a disability.”

Along with Sady’s short film, three other videos are also featured on the redesigned site, depicting people with various disabilities using accessibility features that come standard with all Apple products. One features a man who is hearing impaired using his phone to power his hearing aids. Another woman is an athlete, using her Apple Watch to track her wheelchair workouts.

Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives at Apple, tells Mashable standardized accessibility has always been at the core of Apple’s innovation, with the company wanting to make their products universally available to all users.

“When we build technology, we want to give people the basic foundational elements that will give them the opportunity to do whatever it is that they want to do. The technology is the foundation, but what people do with it is their own.”

Sady was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that causes a lack of control in movement and muscle coordination. She has little control over her body from the neck down and cannot speak. But she can nod her head back and forth. That’s all the movement she needs to effectively use modern technology.

With Switch Control, an option that comes standard with all iOS devices, Sady can navigate her Apple products using commands enabled by just two buttons she taps with her head. Using the buttons, or “switches,” Sady navigates the features of complicated video editing programs, creating films that showcase her passion for cinematography.

Sady says the universal feature has been instrumental in allowing her to pursue her passion for video creation.

“These were physical limitations that held me back from realizing my dreams. But I knew all along that I had the ability, the creativity and the passion. Switch Control has removed those barriers and empowered me to access my abilities and pursue my passion.”

Sady’s passion and talent was on display at Apple’s MacBook Pro event on Oct. 27, with a video she narrated — along the help of Siri — opening the event. The video, edited entirely by Sady, further explored how essential tech can be to people with disabilities, and is also featured on the new accessibility site.

“When technology is designed for everyone, it let’s anyone do what they love,” she says in the video. “Including me.”

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