Apple's global head of accessibility talks customization, design and privacy in interview

Sarah Herrlinger
Sarah Herrlinger (Image credit: Evening Standard)

What you need to know

  • Apple's head of privacy Sarah Herrlinger has sat down in an interview with Evening Standard.
  • In the interview, she discussed customization, privacy, and design.
  • She also discussed the joys of how assistive technology often has applicability to people it wasn't originally designed for.

Apple's head of privacy Sarah Herrlinger has sat down in an interview with Evening Standard to discuss customization, design, and privacy.

In the interview, Herrlinger talked about how accessibility is baked into everything that Apple creates:

"We all want to be productive members of society and do good things and show the whole of who we are. Being able to create technology that levels the playing field and lets everyone shine is really important."

She said that customer feedback is one of the most important sources of ideas for Apple's accessibility features, suggesting that Apple receives "a wealth of emails" including feedback and reporting bugs. If someone suggests a need, the team looks to see if it is applicable to other people as well.

They also discussed the importance of customization when it comes to accessibility. Often accessibility comes in the form of creating customized interfaces, like using bigger text or inverted colors to make devices usable for people with dyslexia or sight problems.

Herrlinger talked about VoiceOver, and how it permeates every aspect of iOS. For example, did you know that if you take a photo whilst using the feature, it can tell you how many heads there are on screen, and if you need to move the camera!

She summed up Apple's approach to design by saying it tried to be "thoughtful", giving "people the tools they need and do it in a way that's respectful to them." One of the coolest things about accessibility is the fact that a feature can often be found to have a totally different use or application for a different group of people than was initially planned. Recently, a Texas father revealed how the noise meter on Apple Watch had helped his autistic son to regulate his own voice. Sam Bennett had previously suffered from a form of autism that meant he struggled to modulate the volume of his speaking voice.

You can read the full interview here. It provides fantastic insight on some of the work Apple is doing to make all of its devices more accessible to everyone, something I'm sure we can all agree is tremendously important work.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9