For Hills, that fear and frustration began to subside after 2013. That’s when Apple introduced Switch Control, an accessibility feature that helps those with limited mobility to navigate, select, and manipulate iOS touchscreen devices with the click of a button, movement of the body, or any number of alternative inputs (blowing into a tube, etc.). Launched as a feature in iOS 7, Switch Control gave Christopher and thousands of others the opportunity to finally take command of touch displays inside Apple’s applications as well as third-party programs, like games and browsers, without the use of expensive third-party devices. For Hills, though, nothing was as satisfying or memorable as being able to perform the most elemental functions.
“The thing that comes to mind is the day I made my first phone call. I was 15. I was able to call mum at work. As you can imagine, this was a very big thing,” Hills told BuzzFeed News of using Switch Control for the first time.
...in the mid-2000s, Apple began a full overhaul of its assistive program with an emphasis on building accessibility features into products from the ground up, rather than adding them into previously developed software. In 2005, the company created a built-in voice reader called VoiceOver for its desktop computers, which it incorporated into the iPhone in 2009, allowing visually impaired iPhone users to navigate the touch device using voice controls. The company also began courting users of all abilities, focusing on previously underserved constituencies to ask them what features needed improvement and what to build next. As part of this initiative, Apple engineers also underwent mandatory accessibility training.
[Thanks to Srikar Dhanakoti, who always finds and shares great stuff]
Related: See Apple's support page for more information on Switch Control.