Monday, April 20, 2015

iOS Accessibility Options

I just put this together for a class I'm taking, and thought it might be useful to post on this blog as well.

The iPad and other iOS devices offers a number of accessibility features to assist users. Many of these features can be found in Settings --> General --> Accessibility. There are four sections, each with a few features allowing users to pick and choose what is necessary to make their experience more user-friendly.

iPad Settings

Vision features assist the visually impaired or blind student. Some of the settings allow the user to manipulate the size of text and icons. There is a voice-over feature, using Siri to verbalize screen touches, as well as using a finger to draw letters instead of typing. Speech reads the content on the screen, making email, text messages, web pages and books accessible.

iPads also allow for a braille display when connected to a wireless braille device. These displays allow for braille in a number of languages.

Communication and collaboration between visually and hearing impaired students can take place using Facetime, the iOS video calling feature. Students who use sign language can see each other, including gestures and facial expressions, making Facetime a valuable tool.

Hearing impaired students have a number of options on an iOS device. They can turn on Closed Captioning to view CC enabled videos and podcasts, including ones in iTunes U. There is mono audio available for students who hear best from one ear. And iOS offers connectivity for Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids.

Students with physical or motor challenges have some options on the iPad. AssistiveTouch allows users who can’t pinch or spread fingers to use a one-touch or assistive device to substitute for the more complication gestures.

Students can use Siri to provide certain directions to the device, such as sending a message or scheduling a task. Many apps that require typing now has the Dictation feature, where students can talk instead of type. There is also Switch Control that allows Bluetooth-enabled hardware to perform certain on-screen tasks.

Students with speech impairments can use Facetime to communicate using sign language. iMessage allows them to collaborate using text. Speech Selection allows the device to speak for you. This feature can also help students with speech development, providing an always-accessible model.

From the list of accessibility features listed above, it appears that Apple is making a thoughtful effort to assist disabled users. From my observation, just in the past couple years this list has grown, especially with accessibility to Bluetooth-enabled assistive tools. In addition, Apple has partnered with third-party app developers to provide learning tools to students and others who need them.

Here are some links to additional iOS accessibility details:

What resources do you find helpful? Any capabilities you particularly like? 

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