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The iPhone Accessibility Tools for Those with Disabilities

The ever-comprehensive Accessibility tools on your iPhone are targeted at people with certain disabilities. Following is a list of the tools that are available to make using the iPhone a little easier for those folks:

  • VoiceOver: A screen reader describes aloud what’s on the screen. The screen reader can read e-mail messages, web pages, and more. As you dig into these settings, you’ll see that you can use phonetics, change the pitch, alter the speaking rate, and more.

  • Zoom: This tool is a screen magnifier for those who are visually challenged. To zoom, double-tap the screen with three fingers, and drag three fingers to move around the screen. Double-tap the screen with three fingers again to zoom back out.

  • Large text: You can enlarge the text in Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, and Notes from a range of 20pt (points) up to 56pt. Don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what these point sizes mean. You’ll see a sample of the text on the screen.

  • Invert colors: The colors on the iPhone can be reversed to provide a higher contrast for people with poor eyesight. The screen sort of resembles a film negative.

  • Speak selection and speak auto-text: When the Speak Selection setting is on, you’ll see a Speak button when you select text. The Speak Auto-Text option allows the iPhone to automatically speak autocorrections and capitalizations.

  • Hearing aids: The iPhone can communicate with hearing aids through Bluetooth.

  • LED flash for alerts: This tool lets those who are hard of hearing know when an alert arrives. The setting works only when the phone is locked or asleep.

  • Mono audio: If you suffer hearing loss in one ear, the iPhone can combine the right and left audio channels so that both can be heard in both earbuds or earpods, or any speakers connected to the iPhone’s audio jack. You can drag a volume slider left or right to raise or lower the volume, respectively, in one channel or the other.

  • Guided access: Parents of autistic kids know how challenging it can be to keep the child focused on a given task. The Guided Access setting, new in iOS 6, can limit iPhone usage to a single app and also restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen. You actually circle the area of the screen that you want to restrict.

    You can turn the feature on or off by triple-pressing the Home button. You can also create a passcode to use when Guided Access is at work. By turning on Enable Screen Sleep, you can dim the screen after a period of inactivity. If you tap the sleep/wake button, the screen will take an immediate nap.

  • AssistiveTouch: Turn on this setting if you need to use an adaptive accessory such as a joystick because of difficulties touching the screen. Plus, when this setting is on, you can create your own custom gestures.

  • Home-click speed: Slow down the speed required to double or triple-click the Home button, which is next on the list of Accessibility options.

  • Triple-click the Home button: As you know by now, double-pressing the Home button launches multitasking. But you can set up the iPhone so that triple-clicking the button (pressing three times really fast) turns on certain Accessibility features. By doing so, you can turn on or off VoiceOver, Invert Colors, Zoom, and AssistiveTouch.

  • Incoming calls: You can route calls to come through a headset or the iPhone speaker.

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