Apple's Sarah Herrlinger talks its accessibility efforts in new interview

Apple Ada30 Matthew Whitaker 1
Apple Ada30 Matthew Whitaker 1 (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act has turned 30.
  • As part of the anniversary, Apple's Director of Global Accessibility Policy sat down for an interview.
  • They talked about how the company sees accessibility as a human right.

Apple recently honored the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by sharing the stories of a number or artists and activists, as well as talking about how the law has changed over the years and how tech can help.

In addition, one of Apple's executives sat down with TechCrunch to talk about the company's efforts in building accessibility into all of its products. Sarah Herrlinger, Director of Global Accessibility Policy, says that the company sees accessibility as a human right.

"It's fundamentally about culture," said Herrlinger. "From the beginning Apple has always believed accessibility is a human right and this core value is still evident in everything we design today."

Herrlinger went on to talk about how the iPhone, in addition to changing how we all live our daily lives, has become a breakthrough device for disabilitiy communites.

"The historical impact of iPhone as a mainstream consumer product is well documented. What is less understood though is how life changing iPhone and our other products have been for disability communities," said Herrlinger. "Over time iPhone has become the most powerful and popular assistive device ever. It broke the mold of previous thinking because it showed accessibility could in fact be seamlessly built into a device that all people can use universally."

The executive says that tech as an industry still has more work to do in order to ensure that those from the disability community are represented in their respective companies.

As for where the tech industry has room to grow, Herrlinger said: "Representation and inclusion are critical. We believe in the mantra of many within disability communities: 'Nothing about us without us.' We started a dedicated accessibility team in 1985, but like all things on inclusion — accessibility should be everyone's job at Apple."

Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.