LivAbility Magazine
Photo shows the interior of an Apple store, a long open table in the foreground, various people around that table with tablets and cell phones, a large screen monitor in the background. In the foreground is a young man in a power wheelchair and a woman with a bright red ponytail, also using a wheelchair. She holds a cell phone at the table. The Apple emblem is obvious in the background.

Accessible features you didn’t know you have 

Story by John Beaubien 
Photos by John Beaubien 

I visited the Apple Store at Scottsdale Quarter to learn more about the adaptive features of the different Apple devices.

Apple hosts daily learning sessions with a focus on helping people “do more of what they love with inspiring programs.” I attended:

  • Basics: iPhone and iPad Intermediate
  • Basics: Using iPad and iPhone with Hearing Loss

They offered an impromptu session where I asked questions about the accessible capabilities of the MacBook Pro and iPhone. 

Photo shows the Apple logo against silver walls and florescent lights leading down a hallway.

At Scottsdale Quarter, I had no trouble finding an open accessible parking on the visit despite the small number of accessible spots. The buildings are tall and modern, casting large shadows that kept me cool as I made my way to the Apple store, despite the midday heat in Phoenix.

There were no buttons to open the doors to the building; however, every time I made my way toward approached the door, Apple staff beat me there, opening it while greeting me warmly. It was an amazing site! The room was very large, open and filled with people attending sessions and looking at products.

The first session covered the basics of using an iPhone. There was high demand for this knowledge and the table filled up quickly.

The next session answered accessibility questions. One of the participants attending, a 10-year-old boy who uses a powerchair, was considering purchasing a computer. He wanted to learn more about Apple’s accessibility features. He has limited dexterity, so staff covered a variety of accessible features:

  • Switch Control allows users to toggle through options on their Apple product using a joystick or other adaptive devices. You can interact with your device without even having to touch it.
  • AssistiveTouch allows users to use the home button on the screen instead of the physical button. It’s also a shortcut to many of the phones features. You can create many custom gestures. For example, you can create a button that scrolls the page up or down.
  • Siri allows users to tell the device to do many things like open an app, get directions or play music. You can even make your MacBook actively listen for you to call out “hey Siri” without pressing any keys.
Photo shows an instructor and participants standing around a table listening to a presentation. There is a person using sign language at the front.

The most eye-opening session of the day was on hearing loss. When I arrived, I noticed the assistive listening device symbol near the speaker – which indicates how serious they are about accessibility. Around the table there were a couple of ASL interpreters and several Deaf participants. The presentation covered several accessibility features:

  • Live listen connects your Apple device to your hearing aids and works with your t-coil. You can adjust the volume in either ear. You can choose from presets like “restaurant” to decrease ambient noise in the room while amplifying your conversation.
  • Siri responds to your text messaging. For example, you could ask Siri about the weather via text message.
  • LED flashes when notifications come in or when your phone rings.
  • Facetime allows users to have video conversations which can be useful for people using sign language.
  • Voicemail transcription allows users to read their voicemails instead of listening to them.

I was impressed by the level of accessibility in the technology and the passion behind the technology from the Apple staff. The staff seemingly really enjoy what they do and want to improve the lives of people who use Apple technologies.

I learned quite a bit and I’m looking forward to going back for some of their other sessions like how to edit video, take cool photos, draw, music, and coding.

Learn more about Apple’s accessibility features online at

Having trouble finding the accessible features or using them? Install the Apple Support App. You can connect with Apple support via phone, chat or email and you can even schedule an in-person meeting at the Genius Bar.

John Beaubien

John Beaubien 

John Beaubien is Ability360’s Graphic Design and Marketing Specialist. He earned his Bachelor degree in Graphic & Web Design from the Art Institute of Phoenix. John is knowledgeable in accessible design. He enjoys cooking, spending time with his family and learning about new technology.