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Apple’s short film on autism proves that accessibility features matter

TechCrunch TechCrunch 4/04/2016 Romain Dillet

Apple has released a couple of videos over the weekend starring Dillan Barmache, a 16-year-old kid who is autistic and non-verbal. These two films are powerful and also make a strong point in favor of accessibility features, specialized apps for autistic people and more.

Autism affects social and communication behaviors. Autistic people have a hard time communicating with the world. But it doesn’t mean they don’t have things to say.

It’s easy to shut yourself away when you have this disorder because you have a hard time talking with people around you, they don’t get that you understand what they’re saying, or, worse, other people are talking for yourself and misrepresenting you.

Dillan’s life has changed quite a lot thanks to technology, and in this case an iPad paired with three apps — Proloquo4Text, Assistive Express and Keeble. Now, he can type on his iPad and talk with people around him. It says a lot about the basic iPad user interface and how it’s much easier to use than a laptop.

Technology is incredibly powerful and can profoundly alter how we communicate, share information and learn. It brings people, things and services together that couldn’t be brought together before. Many companies choose to focus on problems that can touch hundreds of millions of people with mainstream consumer services. Yet, it’s also important that we don’t forget about the other huge areas of opportunity that can change the lives of people around us.

The tech ecosystem has a responsibility. We as a community also need to focus on real world tech. We need to find the next big things for people who could greatly benefit from accessibility features.

It’s good to see Apple shedding light on autism during Autism Acceptance Month. The company has also focused a lot on accessibility features in iOS, and allocated resources on other incredibly important challenges. I hope other companies are taking notes. Many entrepreneurs are solving little problems for the masses. But you can also choose to solve life-changing problems.

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