Accessibility Settings in iOS: access to i-devices explained

Under the general app there are many settings that you can change to individualise the iPad for the people you support. One of those is accessibility – which is fairly detailed in itself, and so I thought I would take you on a little tour of the accessibility settings and how they might benefit the people you are working with.



The accessibility settings are divided into three categories;

  1. Vision
  2. Hearing, and
  3. Physical & Motor

However, don’t think that your students need to have difficulties in these areas to benefit from these options.

Voiceover – the voiceover feature allows people with visual impairments to touch the screen and hear back a description of what is being selected. The user can then activate the selected item by double tapping it and scroll by flicking three fingers. The latest update has a practice feature and additional settings that you can alter. Just a word of warning for those unfamiliar with this – it can take some getting used to, so I always make sure that I have my “triple-click home” button selected to turn the voice over setting off – helps if I get stuck when trying it out – see below for more information.

Zoom – allows any part of the screen to be magnified up to five times its normal size. There are multi-touch gestures that can be used here also to change the level of zoom and how you navigate the device.

Large Text – enables you to make the text up to 56 pt in Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages and Notes.

White on Black – allows for the iPad to be viewed with white text on a black background. It works with all apps on the iPad and provides a high contrast “x-ray” type screen. This is suitable for some people we support with Cortical Visual Impairment or low vision.

Speak Selection – perhaps my favourite in-built accessibility feature so far! Speak selection allows text from other apps such as Safari, Notes, iBooks to be read aloud! Simply highlight the text by holding your finger down and selecting what you want to be read, and then select speak! This is fabulous for many people with vision impairment, but also for people with literacy and learning difficulties who benefit from the text being spoken aloud to assist with word recognition and comprehension. A rumoured update of the next operating system, iOS 6, will be that it will feature word by word highlighting too!

Speak Auto-text – automatically speaks auto-corrections and auto-capitalizations so it is useful for people with a vision impairment to hear the corrections and changes being made to their text prior to sending or searching.

Mono Audio – this redirects all channels of audio into one headphone which is great for people who have better hearing in one ear.

Assistive Touch – is a fairly sophisticated accessibility feature of the iPad which aims to enable those who have physical impairments perform multi-touch gestures and commands on the iPad screen with alternative simplified movements. Please see Assistive Touch – HANDY tips for just about anyone! for more detailed information about how this works.

Triple-Click Home – this is an extremely handy tool that you can choose to set a “triple click” of the home button to toggle on or off various accessibility features such as VoiceOver, White on Black, Zoom or Assistive Touch. As already mentioned it can be very handy when testing out a feature that you are not familiar with as it gives you a simple way of exiting it.

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About Katie Lyon

Katie is a speech pathologist and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) consultant who has been working with young children and adults with complex communication needs for the past 13 years. She has had worked in various roles including Coordinator of the Non-electronic Communication Aid Scheme and Regional Communication Service in Victoria as part of the state-wide Communication Access Network. She has a keen interest in supporting families, teachers, direct support workers and therapists to access information about AAC and assistive technology through education and training. She currently works part-time with Spectronics and part-time with the Communication Resource Centre at Scope in Victoria.

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