The Touch ID Fingerprint Sensor on the New iPhone 5s Has Major Accessibility Implications

Today Apple announced the iPhone 5s with a fingerprint sensor dubbed Touch ID. Touch ID allows users to unlock their iPhone and purchase iTunes content using just their fingerprint. The Touch ID sensor is located under the home button. This feature allows all users to secure their iPhone without typing in a passcode each and every time. This will encourage more users to secure their phone and decrease frustration when they enter the passcode incorrectly.

While the new Touch ID sensor is not exclusively an accessibility feature it will have large implications for some disabled users. Blind and visually impaired users will be one group to benefit greatly. These users use the built in VoiceOver screen reader to navigate the iPhone. Without being able to see the screen typing in even a simple four digit passcode with VoiceOver may be time consuming compared to a sighted user typing in the same passcode. (Don't take this the wrong way, VoiceOver is a fantastic feature that gives blind and visually impaired users access to their devices. It just takes longer to enter information). With the new Touch ID sensor VoiceOver users will be able to almost instantly unlock their iPhone just as quickly as any other sighted user.

The Touch ID sensor will also benefit people with cognitive disabilities who are unable to remember a passcode, but still need to protect their device. People with cognitive disabilities can benefit greatly from various iPhone apps, but may not be able to remember a passcode to protect their device. Now with the Touch ID sensor cognitively impaired users can easily unlock their iPhone with their finger.  It eliminates the fear and possibility of forgetting your passcode.

The iPhone 5s will also include iOS 7 which includes new accessibility features. Click here to learn more about iOS 7 accessibility. Click read more below to view videos about the iPhone 5s.

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