Apple Vision Pro's accessibility features could be a game-changer for everyone

Vision Pro hand gesture accessibility
(Image credit: Apple)

While they weren't talked about in the keynote at WWDC 2023 on June 5, Apple has lifted part of the curtain on the accessibility features for Vision Pro.

A new developer video, published on June 7, goes into detail about how you can use a pointer to select apps and options throughout the headset, alongside being able to use VoiceOver to choose these through your voice.

While the 25-minute video brings examples for developers to integrate these features into apps, it gives a bunch of real-life demos of how its own features can be used, such as a Control Center prompt following you, wherever you go which is called a 'Head Anchor'.

Some features make it seem as though you're holding a virtual Wii Remote to help guide you around the OS, but it goes further than that.

What was showcased?

Vision Pro keyboard accessibility feature

(Image credit: Apple)

A big one was Pointer Control, which lets you select options and apps thanks to a large wand that can be added to your hands or certain fingers. VoiceOver works as it always has on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, where it will describe what's being displayed on the Vision Pro at all times.

Subtitles are also coming to the headset, which can be customized to be as big as needed, with a variety of fonts when you're watching a movie or if you're on a FaceTime call.

But these features go even deeper on Vision Pro, and it's nothing short of impressive for the category.

Vision Pro reduce motion accessibility feature

(Image credit: Apple)

Motion gets some unique features too, where the parallax effect of icons and windows, where they move with you, can be toned down to help with any motion sickness.

Alongside this, Dwell Control allows a bunch of controls to stay in visionOS as you use it. At the 17:20 point in the video, one of the Accessibility representatives at Apple describes four controls that can be used across the OS.

  • Tap
  • Scroll
  • Long Press
  • Drag

While it was a shame that the keynote didn't mention these in a bento-box image when it got to explaining Vision Pro at the keynote, it's great to see accessibility come to the headset, guns blazing when it's released in early 2024.

It also explains why, yet again, the accessibility features shown off in May, were given their own time to shine, and will be available in iOS 17iPadOS 17macOS 14, and watchOS 10.

These are all clearly being made for visionOS as well, and once the headset is available to buy, those with vision, hearing, motor, and other disabilities will be able to use the headset as well as anyone else.

To me, that's one of the big successes from this week - that accessibility yet again got time to shine, and explain how spatial computing can be a place for everyone.

Daryl Baxter
Features Editor

Daryl is iMore's Features Editor, overseeing long-form and in-depth articles and op-eds. Daryl loves using his experience as both a journalist and Apple fan to tell stories about Apple's products and its community, from the apps we use everyday to the products that have been long forgotten in the Cupertino archives.

Previously Software & Downloads Writer at TechRadar, and Deputy Editor at StealthOptional, he's also written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', which tells the story of the beginnings of Lara Croft and the series' early development. He's also written for many other publications including WIRED, MacFormat, Bloody Disgusting, VGC, GamesRadar, Nintendo Life, VRV Blog, The Loop Magazine, SUPER JUMP, Gizmodo, Film Stories, TopTenReviews, Miketendo64 and Daily Star.