This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.
This morning I need to take a step away from social media content, anyone who follows me on Twitter will know by now that I have ordered an Apple Watch and I am excited just waiting for it to arrive. Indeed it is the hot gadget to have at the moment. Apple has taken criticism over the past number of years for ‘failing to innovate’ but for some people, their new devices are life changing.
A few days ago I found Molly Watt’s blog. Molly has Usher syndrome which is a genetic condition characterised by deafness and an escalating loss of vision. She was born deaf and registered blind at the age of 14. Previously she wore a Bradley timepiece which is a watch designed for blind people which uses a moving ball to indicate the time.
However Apple is known for accessibility features on their devices and the Apple Watch bring accessibility to a different level. In fact the Apple Watch is so accessibility driven that there is an entire webpage from Apple listing all the features you can use.
A new feature of the Apple Watch is called the “taptic engine” which produces what Apple calls, “haptic feedback” and basically allows users to set vibrations for different alerts at an adjustable intensity or to send messages to other Apple Watch users simply by tapping on the device.
The most popular entry on the blog so far is Molly’s review after using the Apple Watch for 5 days and it is a very enjoyable read. The post has 200,000+ views and Molly explains both the pros and the cons of the device from her experience so far. In her post, Molly points out that the haptic feedback is perhaps her favourite feature of the device so far and that she has come up with many different uses for it.
Before getting my Apple Watch I would have my phone either in my hand or a pocket nearest to my hand I would rarely feel the vibration from my iPhone and often missed messages. With the Apple Watch on my wrist, I am being notified via Prominent Haptics without issue
and I really like that.
I am fortunate to have a few friends who also have the Apple Watch and together have devised ways of communicating in ‘Code’ when out, particularly when out at night and in dark situations when I am completely blind.
Useful codes in the event I need help of any kind, for instance if I am in a badly lit and noisy environment and struggling to be included in something I can get message to friend I’m uncomfortable or I need assistance or help of some kind or “I’m bored” can we do something else!
Mum has certainly found benefit in the ‘tap’ for getting my attention when I am in my bedroom without my hearing aids on, I feel the nudge to get a move on or she wants my attention for something.
There is a vibration when a text message is received too – Prominent Haptics is definitely awesome for me as a deafblind person.
As well as using haptic feedback as a form of communication, Molly has used haptics on the watch to plan her journey on foot. The Apple Watch can provide directions from one destination to another by using a certain number of taps to indicate if the user should turn left or right at a junction.
I can be directed without hearing or sight, but by a series of taps via the watch onto my wrist – 12 taps means turn right at the junction or 3 pairs of 2 taps means turn left, I’m still experimenting with this but so far very impressed – usher syndrome accessible!
The Apple Watch provides a range of different accessibility features from font adjustment to voiceover, zoom and an extra large watch face. It is great to see technology reach out to people in a way we never really expect it to, or in a way we never really think it will.
We get our Apple Watch (eventually!) and we enjoy the experience of a new piece of technology. For people like Molly it is much more than that and reading her review and experience of the watch so far has been fascinating.
To learn a bit more about Molly then check out the YouTube clip we found below from 7 months ago.
About The Author
Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis. He has an Advanced Diploma in Psychology and a Diploma in Digital Marketing And Social Media. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here. Or you can drop Mark an email at, [email protected]