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What are iOS Accessibility Features?

Jun 14, 2017

Apple’s iOS customizable accessibility features are truly a lifesaver if you take the time to configure them to meet your needs. These features display a thorough understanding of inclusivity and enable the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad to easily perform for a wide range of audiences.

Siri and Facetime are two of the most commonly used features by people with and without disabilities, but iPhones also have many other accessibility features and settings to make using the devices easier. These other features are tailored to aid users’ specific disabilities: visual impairments, such as low vision, blindness, color-blindness; auditory impairments, such as partial or whole deafness; limited coordination; and learning challenges, including autism and dyslexia.

These built-in accessibility features, application programming interfaces (APIs), and developer tools deliver a superior mobile experience to every user. Some of the award-winning features include VoiceOver, Speak Selection, Audio Descriptions, Assistive Touch, and Guided Access.

VoiceOver & Speech

VoiceOver is an award-winning, remarkable innovation, especially for the visually impaired. It’s a screen reader that coordinates with objects in apps to help users run the interface, even if they aren’t able to see it. You can also turn on Speak Selection to have Siri read text to you in over 30 languages and at an adjustable rate to accommodate every user.

To turn VoiceOver on by default:

  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.
  • Vision Category > tap VoiceOver.
  • Turn on VoiceOver Switch.

To turn Speak Selection on by default:

  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.
  • Vision Category > tap Speech.
  • Turn on Speak Selection Switch.

Audio Descriptions

With built-in support, iOS lets users hear narrative audio descriptions during the playback of media in their apps, and in a variety of languages.

To turn Audio Descriptions on by default:

  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.
  • Jump to the Media section > tap Audio Descriptions.
  • Turn on Prefer Audio Descriptions.

Assistive Touch

This accessibility feature lets people with lack of coordination, motor control difficulty, or other physical disabilities make use of iOS devices. Instead of pressing the home button, tasks can be performed with simple taps once the assistive touch is enabled.

To turn Assistive Touch on by default:

  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.
  • Tap Assistive Touch.
  • Turn on Assistive Touch switch.

Guided Access

Guided Access helps people with autism and those with sensory and attention challenges stay focused on the task at hand. It fixes the phone on a particular app and doesn’t allow switching. It’s also a great option if you’re reluctant to hand over your phone to a child or friend. When Guided Access is turned on, you can’t navigate away from permitted apps, thus protecting your personal information. 

To turn Guided Access on by default:

  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility.
  • Find Learning Section > Guided Access.
  • Turn on Guided Access switch.

These are just a sampling of the various iOS accessibility features that put technology into the hands of those who need it the most. For users with visual, hearing, or motor impairments — or even with no disabilities — understanding and tailoring these features to meet your needs can make all of your Apple devices more convenient to use.

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