Thursday, May 17 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and ahead of the event CNET has spoken to individuals with disabilities, accessibility advocates, and Apple's own director of global accessibility policy and initiatives, Sarah Herrlinger, to discuss the company's efforts in this field.

Showing off the wheelchair workouts on Apple Watch, two-time U.S. Paralympian Austin Pruitt explained how he uses a racing wheelchair in a stationary workout routine to help him keep in shape. Pruitt has cerebral palsy from the knees down, but he continues to compete in the Paralympic Games by racing in a wheelchair, and the Apple Watch has replaced bulky trackers in his workout routines.

cnet austin pruitt image

Photo taken by Sarah Tew via CNET

He said he used to set up a bunch of trackers on his chair to log his workouts, but now uses just an Apple Watch instead.

"This has everything," he told me. "This has my wheelchair and my walking, all in one."

Apple added a "Wheelchair" setting to the Apple Watch in watchOS 3, allowing the device's activity options to be customized for wheelchair users. This means that controlling and pushing a wheelchair contributes to all-day calorie goals, "time to roll" notifications remind users when to be a bit more active, and new wheelchair-specific workouts provide customized sessions for users like Pruitt.

According to Herrlinger, accessibility updates (like the wheelchair setting in Apple Watch) are something the company tries to add into its devices every year.

"Every year we try to add in new things. We do look at how can we make it slightly better year over year," Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's director of global accessibility policy and initiatives, said about the company's work on its iOS and MacOS operating systems.

Other popular accessibility options on Apple products include VoiceOver on iPhone, which describes what's on the device's screen for visually impaired users. Apple's home automation platform, HomeKit, is also featured on its accessibility web page since it can help a wide variety of users accomplish tasks like turning on lights, starting a coffee pot, or changing the temperature by speaking near an iOS device or HomePod.

Apple is expected to continue to celebrate and promote Global Accessibility Awareness Day throughout the week, if previous years are any indication. Around this time last year, the company highlighted the event with new "Designed for" videos, a series of interviews CEO Tim Cook gave with three accessibility activists, and a concert at One Infinite Loop where Stevie Wonder performed.

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
macbook pro january

Best Buy's Black Friday in July Sale Takes Up to $700 Off M3 MacBook Pro for Members

Monday July 15, 2024 11:05 am PDT by
Best Buy's "Black Friday in July" sale is in full swing today, and in addition to a few iPad Air discounts we shared earlier, there are also some steep markdowns on the M3 MacBook Pro. You will need a My Best Buy Plus or Total membership in order to get some of these deals. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small...
ipaos 18 image playground

Apple Releases First iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 Public Betas

Monday July 15, 2024 1:16 pm PDT by
Apple today provided the first betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to public beta testers, bringing the new software to the general public for the first time since the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple has seeded three developer betas so far, and the first public beta includes the same content that's in the third developer beta. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
maxresdefault

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 vs. Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro

Saturday July 13, 2024 8:00 am PDT by
Samsung this week introduced its latest earbuds, the Galaxy Buds3 Pro, which look quite a bit like Apple's AirPods Pro 2. Given the similarities, we thought we'd compare Samsung's new earbuds to the AirPods Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, you could potentially mistake Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro for the AirPods Pro. The Buds3 Pro have the same...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Apple Seeds Revised Third Betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to Developers

Monday July 15, 2024 10:09 am PDT by
Apple today seeded updated third betas iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to developers for testing purposes, with the software coming a week after Apple initially released the third betas. Registered developers are able to opt into the betas by opening up the Settings app, going to the Software Update section, tapping on the "Beta Updates" option, and toggling on the ‌iOS 18/iPadOS 18‌ Developer Beta ...