Here at ND Assistive one of our jobs is to keep an eye out for new technology solutions for individuals with disabilities to live more independently. One company we always stay in tune with is Apple. When it comes to taking the lead on building in accessibility features to their products, Apple is always taking the lead.

The Apple Watch has been around for almost five years. With every Apple Watch that gets released, better features get built in specifically for users with disabilities.

The newest Apple Watch, Series 5, has some great additions that are built in to the watch.

Face of watch in fall detection modeFace of watch in SOS emergency mode            Face of watch in Noise app

1. Display – The watch is always on display and never goes to sleep. Your important information stays front and center. No more waking up the screen by shaking your arm or tapping the screen.
2. Direction – The Compass app will show you the direction your Apple watch is pointing, your current location and the elevation. This works even when you don’t have Wi-Fi or a cellular connection.
3. Electrocardiogram – With sensors built into the watch, you can now take an electrocardiogram (ECG). The ECG app can record your heartbeat and rhythm using the electrical heart sensor on the watch. It checks the pulses to get your heart rate and checks if the upper and lower chambers of your heart are in rhythm.
4. Fall Detection – A hard fall can be detected while wearing this watch. If someone you know is partially interested in getting an Apple Watch and is also at a fall risk, this feature would be worth the money. Other cellular dedicated lifeline devices with fall detection can be a costly month to month fee without the other great features the Apple Watch can provide.
5. Fitness Tracking – Now manual wheelchair users can track their physical activity by various pushing techniques, speeds, and terrain. After choosing a wheelchair specific workout, a notification can be set every hour for “time to roll” when there as been no movement for a longer period of time.
6. Emergency Services – By pressing the side button it can be used to initiate a call with local emergency services or send a quick text to the user’s emergency contacts. And now the Series 5 watch will call local emergency services when traveling in other countries. NOTE: If your watch does not have cellular, the watch must be connected to a known Wi-Fi network for this feature.
7. Noise – To track your hearing health the Noise App will measure the ambient sound levels around you using the microphone and duration of exposure. When it detects that the decibel level has risen to a point where your hearing could be affected, it will notify you with a tap on the wrist.

Recognizing that some of these features on the Apple Watch can also be found on other devices such as smart phones, iPads/tablets and computers as well as placing valuable external applications on them. All of these devices can be expensive; however, the Apple Watch can bring added value that the others don’t. The Apple Watch is a wrist-based controller for multiple accessibility uses that is within reach to the user, easy to get to and is hard to lose. And now the Apple Watch Series 5 keeps you connected even without your phone. From phone calls, to texts, dedicated app store for app purchases, emergency assistance, etc., you can leave your phone behind and still stay connected.

Other great accessibility Apple Watch Series 5 features include but not limited to:
• Font Adjustment/Bold text
• Zoom/Magnification up to 15 times
• Grayscale
• Voice Over
• Taptic Engine
• Mono Audio
• Voice Memo
• Reminders

Just for a fun twist here is Ellen DeGeneres’ review on the Apple Watch!



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