In the article, Castor speaks passionately about Apple’s deep commitment to accessibility and her own personal journey.
Coming so soon after the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) passed a resolution in which it called Apple’s testing for the accessibility of its products “inadequate”, it’s hard not to suspect that Apple’s press and public relations team has been busy trying to set the record straight - both with the original Mashable article and the many follow-up articles from other mainstream outlets (see for example 9to5Mac, MacRumours and AppleInsider). Even Tim Cook’s Twitter account joined in, tweeting “Proud of our talented team dedicated to providing #accessibility for all users”. It’s also noteworthy that the Mashable article actually mentions the NFB, pointing out that two years ago the organisation said “Apple has done more for accessibility than any other company.”
Regardless of whether this positive and concentrated focus on accessibility was an orchestrated attempt by Apple to indirectly respond to the NFB resolution or if it was simply happenstance, the Mashable article offers an interesting glimpse into Apple’s work to ensure the accessibility of its products and the people involved.
Castor, a 22 year old graduate of Michigan State University, has been blind since birth. In the Mashable article she speaks of being “amazed” by the “immediate accessibility” of an iPad she received for her 17th birthday and that “it raised her passion for tech to another level”.
After speaking with Apple representatives at a job fair, Castor was offered an internship by the company. The Mashable article reports that:
As her internship came to a close, Castor’s skills as an engineer and advocate for tech accessibility were too commanding to let go. She was hired full-time as an engineer on the accessibility design and quality team — a group of people Castor describes as “passionate” and “dedicated.”
Sarah Herrlinger, Senior Manager for Global Accessibility Policy and Initiatives at Apple, told Mashable that “a notable part of the company's steps toward accessibility is its dedication to making inclusivity features standard, not specialized”, and that “by being built-in, [these features] are also free. Historically, for the blind and visually impaired community, there are additional things you have to buy or things that you have to do to be able to use technology.” Herrlinger also explained how it’s important to have a good team working on accessibility features because “accessibility is something that is never-ending.”
With major releases of iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS due this fall and promising new accessibility features - and many of us also wanting to see some accessibility-related bugs fixed along the way - Apple’s Accessibility Team has ample opportunity to further demonstrate its passion and dedication.
We would strongly encourage you to read the full article on Mashable, as it’s an interesting and rare insight into Apple’s Accessibility Team.