Accessibility Features for the Visually Impaired and Autistic on Your iPad - dummies

Accessibility Features for the Visually Impaired and Autistic on Your iPad

The Accessibility or Universal Access Features tools on your iPad are targeted at helping people with certain disabilities. Following are some of the features that will help the visually impaired and those who are autistic.

iPad’s features for the visually impaired

  • VoiceOver. This screen reader describes aloud what’s on the screen. It can read e-mail messages, web pages, and more. With VoiceOver active, you tap an item on the screen to select it. VoiceOver places a black rectangle around it and either speaks the name or describes an item.

    For example, if you tap, say, Wallpapers & Brightness, the VoiceOver voice speaks the words “Wallpapers & Brightness button.” VoiceOver even lets you know when you alternately position the iPad in landscape or portrait mode or when your screen is locked or unlocked.

    Within the VoiceOver setting, you have several options. For instance, if you turn on Speak Hints, VoiceOver may provide instructions on what to do next, along the lines of “double-tap to open.” You can drag a Speaking Rate slider to speed up or slow down the speech.

    You can also determine the kind of typing feedback you get, from among characters, words, characters and words, or no feedback. Additional controls let you turn on Phonetics and Pitch Change and choose the voice.

    You have to know a whole new set of finger gestures when VoiceOver is on, which may seem difficult, especially when you first start using VoiceOver. When you stop to think about it, this makes a lot of sense. You want to be able to hear descriptions on the screen before you actually activate buttons. Different VoiceOver gestures use different numbers of fingers.

  • Zoom. The Zoom feature offers a screen magnifier for those who are visually challenged. To zoom by 200 percent, double-tap the screen with three fingers. Drag three fingers to move around the screen. To increase magnification, use three fingers to tap and drag up. Tap with three fingers and drag down to decrease magnification.

    The Zoom feature does have a downside: When magnified, the characters on the screen aren’t as crisp (although the Retina display is still pretty sharp), and you can’t display as much in a single view.

  • Large Type. You can make text larger in the Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Messages, and Notes apps. Drag the slider from left to right or from the small “A” toward a larger “A.” You can turn on a Larger Dynamic Type switch to enlarge the text even more in certain supported apps.

  • Bold Text. Not everyone took kindly to the design changes brought by iOS 7. Some people don’t think the text is bold or bright enough. These people should consider turning on the Bold Text switch. Note that doing so (or turning it off again) requires that you restart your iPad.

  • Increase Contrast. This setting is another effort to bolster legibility. Turn this contrast switch on and see whether it makes a positive difference to your eyes.

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

  • Speak Selection. When this setting is on, the iPad speaks any text you select. You also find a slider control to adjust the speaking rate. And you can highlight words as they are spoken.

  • Speak Auto-Text. When this setting is on, the iPad automatically speaks auto-corrections and capitalizations.

iPad’s features for the autistic

  • 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 that can limit iPad usage to a single app and also restrict touch input on certain areas of the screen. You can turn the feature on or off by employing Triple-Click Home, the very next setting.

  • Switch Control. Several controls are represented under the Switch Control setting. The general idea is that you can use a single switch or multiple switches to select text, tap, drag, type, and perform other functions.

    However, turning on Switch Control changes the gestures that you use to control your tablet and are presumably already familiar with. Switch Control makes use of different techniques.

    For example, the iPad can scan by or highlight items on the screen until you select one. Or you can choose to take advantage of scanning crosshairs to select a location on the screen. You can also manually move from item to item using multiple switches, with each switch set to handle a specific action.

  • 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.

  • Accessibility shortcut. Double-pressing the Home button launches multitasking. But you can set up the iPad so that triple-tapping the button (tapping three times really fast) turns on certain Accessibility features. (This tool used to be called Triple-Click Home.) By doing so, you can turn on or off VoiceOver, Invert Colors, Zoom, Switch Control, and AssistiveTouch.

  • Subtitles & Captioning. To turn on closed captioning or subtitles for a movie or video in which they’re available, tap this setting. You can also choose a style for your subtitles.