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  1. Computer Skills
  2. iOS
Computers

How to Activate an iPad's Accessibility Features

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
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What You'll Be Creating

Apple has changed the way we interact with technology for the better by making computing accessible for everyone, no matter their age, experience or ability.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to activate an iPad’s accessibility features to enhance your iOS experience.

Getting Started

Tap the Settings icon on the Home screen, and then press General > Accessibility to access the Accessibility screen. As you can see, this section has been organised into subsections—Vision, Interaction, Hearing, Media and Learning—to make it easier for you to find the accessibility features you require.

Vision

VoiceOver

VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that speaks the items on the screen out loud. VoiceOver describes images and people’s emotions within an image and reads text aloud, even if it hasn’t been annotated.

Flip the VoiceOver switch to On to enable VoiceOver. Drag the Speaking Rate slider to the desired speaking rate, and then flip the Use Pitch Change switch to On if you’d prefer a more realistic-sounding voice. 

Press Speech to fine tune VoiceOver, followed by Verbosity to tweak it further.

If you have a Bluetooth braille display, you can pair it with an iPad to use VoiceOver. Wait for the braille display to appear under Choose a Braille Display, and then select an Output and Input.

Zoom

Flip the Zoom switch to On to magnify the iPad’s screen. Enable Show Controller, or double-tap three fingers to zoom, and drag three fingers to move around the screen. Double-tap three fingers and drag to adjust the level of zoom.

Adjust the magnification between 100 and 1500 per cent by dragging the Maximum Zoom Level slider, too, as well as access multiple filter options under Zoom Filter.

Zoom accessibility feature
Magnify the screen with Zoom

Magnifier

Magnifier lets you to use the iPad’s camera as a magnifying glass. Flip the Magnifier switch to On to enable, and triple-click the Home button to launch the Magnifier.

Press Flash to illuminate the object, and Filter to switch between filters. You can snap a picture for a static close-up.

Display Accommodations

Display Accommodations customises the iPad’s display to support colour blindness and other visual impairments. 

Flip the Invert Colours switch to On to invert all colours, or tap Colour Filters and flip the Colour Filters switch to On to select a filter or create your own. Enable Reduce White Point to reduce the intensity of bright colours.

Display Accommodations accessibility feature
Display Accommodations lets you invert all colours

Speech

Enable Speak Selection to make a Speak button appear when you select text, or Speak Screen to swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to hear the content of the screen.

Tap Voices and select the language to download a new voice then return to the Speech screen to adjust the Speaking Rate.

Larger Text

Flip the Larger Accessibility Sizes switch to On to increase the iPad’s font size, then drag the slider until you reach the preferred reading size.

Larger Text accessibility feature
Increase your iPad's font size

Bold Text

Flip the Bold Text switch to On to transform the iPad’s default font weight to bold. You’ll need to restart the iPad in order to apply this setting, however.

Button Shapes

Enable Button Shapes to replace actionable text elements with a button shape instead to make it easier to press.

Increase Contrast

Flip the Reduce Transparency switch to On to increase legibility by reducing the transparency and blurs on some backgrounds, then enable Darken Colours to further boost the screen’s contrast.

Reduce Motion

Flip the Reduce Motion switch to On to reduce the motion of the user interface, including the parallax effect of icons.

On/Off Labels

Enable On/Off Labels to view visual on/off representations on switches like the one you’ve just flipped.

Interaction

Switch Control

Switch Control lets you highlight items on the screen that can then be activated using an adaptive accessory.

Flip the Switch Control switch to On to enable, and then press Switches > Add New Switch to add a switch. Follow the on-screen instructions to adjust the switch's settings to suit.

Switch Control accessibility feature
Control your iPad using an adaptive accessory

AssistiveTouch

If you have difficulty touching the iPad’s screen or require an adaptive accessory, enable AssistiveTouch to help you perform gestures. 

Tap Customise Top-Level Menu, and then press one of the available six icons to customise its function. If you’d like to decrease or increase the number of icons shown in the menu, tap - or + until you reach the desired amount.

Press Create New Gesture to record a new gesture, and then activate said gesture by selecting Custom from the menu.

Touch Accommodations

Touch Accommodations adjusts certain settings to change how your iPad’s screen responds to touches.

Hold Duration allows you to select the length of time you must touch the screen before your touch is recognised, while enabling Tap Assistance will allow any single finger gesture to perform a tap.

Flip the Ignore Repeat switch to On to select the duration in which multiple touches are treated as a single touch.

Keyboard

You can customise both the iPad’s software and hardware keyboards under Keyboard

Enable Slow Keys to adjust the amount of time between when a key is pressed and activated, or flip the Sticky Keys switch to allow modifier keys to be set without having to hold the key down.

Shake to Undo

If you tend to shake the iPad by accident on a regular basis, disable Shake to Undo to prevent the Undo alert from appearing.

Shake to Undo accessibility feature
 Disable Shake to Undo to prevent the Undo alert from appearing

Call Audio Routing

Tap AutomaticBluetooth Headset or Speaker to select where you want audio to be heard when you receive a FaceTime call.

Hearing

MFi Hearing Aids

Pair your made-for-iPhone hearing aid with an iPad by opening your hearing aid’s battery doors. Ensure that the iPad has Bluetooth switched on, and then press MFi Hearing Aids. Close the hearing aid’s battery door, and tap the name of your hearing aid under Devices. Select Pair.

Once paired, you can modify your hearing aid’s settings by tapping its name.

Mono Audio

Flip the Mono Audio switch to On to activate mono audio, then drag the slider to adjust the balance.

Media

Subtitles & Captioning

If you're deaf, or hard of hearing, flip the Closed Captions + SDH switch to On to enable closed captions or subtitles. Tap Style to select a pre-made subtitles style, or create a new style of your own.

Subtitle accessibility feature
Select a subtitles style

Audio Descriptions

Flip the Prefer Audio Descriptions to On to automatically play audio descriptions.

Learning

Guided Access

Guided Access is a great way to limit the amount of time spent on an iPad, and temporarily restrict the user to a single app. You can disable areas of the screen you don’t want the user to access, and also disable the hardware buttons, too.

Flip the Guided Access switch to On to enable Guided Access.

To set a passcode tap Passcode Settings and then press Set Guided Access Passcode. Enter and re-enter a four-digit passcode.

Return to the Guided Access screen. Tap Time Limits to set an alert tone for when the allotted period of time has elapsed, and then press Sound to choose the one you want, or flip the Speak switch to On to activate a voice alarm.

Open the app you’d like to restrict the user to and then triple-click the Home button to activate Guided Access

Circle the areas you want to disable, and if you’d like to disable the hardware buttons, too, press Hardware Buttons > Options and choose which buttons you want to disable. Tap Time Limit > Options and then select a time limit to limit the amount of time the user can spend on an iPad. Once you’re done, press Start.

Guided Access accessibility feature
Restrict the user to a single app with Guided Access

Accessibility Shortcut

Save time and effort by creating shortcuts to quickly access the accessibility features you use on a regular basis.

First, select one or more of the following features: Guided Access, VoiceOver, Invert Colours, Colour Features, Reduce White Point, Zoom, Switch Control or AssistiveTouch.

Triple-click the Home button to use the shortcut as is, or tap Settings > General > Accessibility > Home Button, and then select Slow or Slowest to slow down the double-click and triple-click speed of said button.

Return to the Settings screen, and press Control Centre > Customise Controls. Select Accessibility Shortcuts and swipe up from the bottom edge of the screen to access the chosen accessibility features from Control Centre.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, I've shown you how to activate an iPad’s accessibility features to enhance your iOS experience.

Computing should be open to anyone, regardless of their physical ability, and these features will help tailor your iPad according to your needs.

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