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Scott Leason is an early riser. By 5:30 a.m., he’s checked his email, social media, the news and the weather. He’s reviewed the day’s surf reports via the Surfline app on his new iPhone XR, prepping for the day’s ride. Before the sun rises on this particular Friday, he’s geared up and ready to go for his session at Mission Bay Aquatic Center in San Diego where he’ll surf Mission Beach. And he experiences it all without seeing it. Leason is blind.
Apple is showcasing the inspiring story of U.S. veteran Scott Leason on its website. Leason is legally blind after taking a bullet in 1993 but still finds a way to take regular surfing trips. A huge part of that is down to his unfaltering determination, but he also credits Apple’s iPhone for helping him feel “independent” again. “When I’m at the end of a line behind a boat just like anybody else, I forget I’m blind,” he says.
Apple has always done its best to provide a wide range of accessibility features to allow those with disabilities to use its products. The VoiceOver function in iOS is particularly popular with visually impaired users, allowing for impressively efficient device interactions without sight requirements. “It’s a lot easier to navigate with the phone,” Leason says. “I think a lot of the visually impaired prefer the iPhone because they can do everything on it. And VoiceOver works pretty darn good.”
Leason tracks his surf trips and workout with his Apple Watch, and uses his iPhone for more or less everything else. VoiceOver makes it possible for him to get the most from iOS without feeling limited. He’s clearly not feeling restricted in his daily life either, having entered seven competitions across four sports this year alone.