iPad gives nonspeaking woman a voice to advocate for Americans with disabilities

in iPad

A woman with nonspeaking autism got an iPad when she was 18, and through an app on it, is now speaking in schools -- and working for the government.

Close-up of a blurred tablet screen over a laptop keyboard displaying colorful app icons and some text.
Jordyn Zimmerman using an iPad accessibility tool to give her a voice (Source: CBS)

Apple introduced Live Speech with iOS 17 in 2023, but as far back as 2014 there were iPad apps that could speak whatever was typed into them. The iPad then radically changed the life of Jordyn Zimmerman, then aged 18, who had nonspeaking autism.

"[The] iPad gave me so much confidence to really connect with people," she told CBS Mornings. "No matter where I am on iPad, I can double tap that assistive touch button, which allows me to open a live speech accessibility feature."

Zimmerman says that the iPad transformed her family life, especially with her brother. My brother and I have this amazing, ever-growing relationship, which now started 10 years ago," she said.

It's also given her a career in advocating for Americans with disabilities, which has led to her visiting schools. She also serves on the Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities in the Biden Administration.

Apple's senior director of Global Accessibility Policy & Initiatives Senior Director, Sarah Herrlinger, said that what Zimmerman has done with the iPad, "just makes me happy."

"I mean, Jordan has one of the best sense of humor, and to watch her facial expression as she has that thing that she wants to express, and then she types it out, and just gets that kind of wry smile on her face," said Herrlinger.

"And I love the fact that our technology is really just helping her show the world exactly who she is," she continued.

Read on AppleInsider



  • Reply 1 of 2
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,800member
    Nice. Nonspeaking autism is kind of an awkward way to put it, but that quibble aside this is a nice story.
  • Reply 2 of 2
    NYC362NYC362 Posts: 85member
    Several months ago, I had a customer who had bought a new iPad for her young autistic son. The old one was working, but it was old- had battery issues, etc. He used it to communicate with his parents and teachers through a program that had phrases associated with various icons on the screen. I forget the name of the program. For whatever reason, the program did not back to iCloud and getting the set up to the new machine was an issue. Re-creating the various words and phrases would be time consuming enough, but they also had to be in the same location on the screen or it would completely confuse the child. The parent could not figure out how to transfer the set up to the new iPad and was truly worried that her son was going to lose his means of communication. It took a little bit of digging around but I was able to figure out how to save the set up as a file, then AirDrop it to the new iPad and then get the app to use that as its default file. In any event, it was amazing to see how these devices truly can change a life. I think that often gets forgotten around here or other Apple related tech sites as we nitpick about various features or specifications that most of the public doesn't really care about.
    thtronnFileMakerFellerddawson100Alex1NAlex_Vluke hambly
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