When I visited Apple Park a few months ago, I didn’t know what to expect when touring Apple Park with a vision impairment. While I imagined that Apple technology would be incorporated into the tour, I wasn’t sure if it would be accessible for vision impairment. I was thrilled to learn that Apple had thought ahead and incorporated accessibility features into their virtual tour. Today, I will be sharing my experience from visiting Apple Park with vision impairment.
What is Apple Park?
Apple Park is the corporate headquarters for Apple in Cupertino, California. While the corporate office is not open to the public, visitors can go to the Apple Park Visitor’s Center, located at the Apple Infinite Loop store on the same campus. At the Apple Infinite Loop store, users can test out different devices, talk to staff members, and use virtual reality to tour the Apple Park campus.
My brother and I got to the Apple Infinite Loop store by using a rideshare service. We requested that the service take us to the Apple Park Visitor’s Center, which is located at 10600 N Tantau Avenue in Cupertino. The driver had no problem dropping us off, but we had to call the driver to verify our location when we were trying to leave. Once we were inside the Apple Infinite Loop store, it was very easy to navigate and get around.
Playing with different devices
Since I don’t use any Apple products other than my iPad, I was excited to play with different devices and learn more about how they are used. I was incredibly lucky to meet Molly, who helped with developing accessibility guides for people with vision impairments. One of the main things she helped me with is learning to use the VoiceOver screen reader, which I had previously felt anxious using. I also had fun learning different keyboard shortcuts for the Mac.
Touring Apple Park with augmented reality
While Apple Park does not do public tours, visitors can tour Apple Park using augmented reality technology. Users can borrow an iPad at the Apple Infinite Loop store and hold it in front of an aluminum model of the Apple Park campus. From there, users can watch the campus come to life on screen and see pictures of buildings, descriptions of what goes on inside, and other details. It reminded me a bit of when I did college tours with virtual reality.
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Touring Apple Park with VoiceOver
Remember how I said that Apple had thought about accessibility and included it on their virtual tour? Visitors that are blind or that have low vision can still tour Apple Park with augmented reality thanks to VoiceOver. When I walked over to the area, a friendly staff member named Monica offered to configure the tour so it was VoiceOver accessible, and gave me noise cancelling headphones. From there, I was able to listen to descriptions of the inside and outside of the buildings, though I still had to hold my iPad over the aluminum model and move around as needed. It was awesome!
My favorite thing about Apple Park
My favorite thing about visiting Apple Park was getting to talk to the staff members. Molly and Monica were extremely knowledgeable about vision impairment and assistive technology, which was surprising since accessibility is often an afterthought for many companies. We had amazing conversations about VoiceOver, large print, and the importance of embracing assistive technology in the classroom. While I didn’t purchase any new technology because of my visit, I now feel much more comfortable using a MacBook in my college library and talking about accessibility settings.
Visitors can go to the second floor of the Apple Park Visitor’s Center and view the observation deck. While this wasn’t particularly exciting for me since I have low vision, it was nice to feel the sunshine and take a few photos.
What about souvenirs?
The Apple Infinite Loop store has lots of exclusive and custom merchandise available for purchase, though it can be expensive. I decided to get the Apple memory/playing cards, which feature colorful designs of Apple products and logos. It’s a fun souvenir that fit in my suitcase easily.
I had so much fun visiting the Apple Infinite Loop store and the Apple Park Visitor’s Center. The augmented reality tour was a great way for me to learn more about the Apple campus and to see the different buildings, and I didn’t have to worry about walking around on a hot day. I highly recommend visiting the Apple Park Visitor’s Center and learning more about Apple and their technology.