Did you know that the iPad has some great Accessibility features? Not many people are aware of all the settings but there are some really great things you can use and explore…
Universal Access Features
There are some great features that the iPad has that you may not even know about. The universal access features are generally for those that use the iPad who have a vision impairment, are deaf or hard of hearing, or have a physical or learning disability. Here we will describe these universal features so you are aware that they exist and so you understand what they do. These are not just for people with disabilities or impairments, they can be used by anyone looking to explore alternate ways to use the iPad.
We will cover the following universal access capabilities:
- VoiceOver screen reader
- Full-screen zoom magnification
- White on Black
- Mono Audio
- Speak Auto-Text
Note: The Zoom, White on Black, and Mono Audio will work with all applications while the VoiceOver feature will work with the built-in iPad applications and some of the apps you download.
Accessing the Accessibility Settings
It is important to mention that most all of these setting can be turned on/off in the Accessibility settings of the iPad. There are a few, however, that can be accessed via iTunes with you connect your iPad to sync it.
- To Turn Accessibility Features On/Off in iTunes:
- Connect your iPad to your computer
- Select the iPad in the sidebar on the left
- In the Summary pane, click Configure Universal Access in the Options section
- Select the various features you want to use and then click OK
This a great feature on the iPad that describes aloud what appears onscreen. Turning this universal access feature on allows you to use the iPad if you cannot see. VoiceOver will tell you the following:
- Tells you about each element on the screen as you select it
- Speaks out different items as you touch or drag your fingers across the screen
- Reads text when you select the text
- If ‘speak hints’ is turned on then VoiceOver will tell you the name of the item
- Selecting a control causes VoiceOver to provide instructions for how to use it
Additionally VoiceOver helps with navigation. For example, when you go to a new screen, it will play a sounds and then speak the first element on that new screen. It also lets you know when iPad is in landscape or portrait mode and if it is locked or unlocked.
Note: VoiceOver will speak in the language that has been selected in the International settings.
You can turn VoiceOver on or off either on the iPad or in iTunes when you connect your iPad to your computer. On the iPad you go into Settings, choose General > Accessibility > VoiceOver, then tap to turn it on/off. Here are the settings you can use within the VoiceOver feature:
- Spoken Hints
- Speaking Rate
- Typing Feedback
Another feature that VoiceOver includes is a rotor control. This is a virtual control that behaves like a physical dial. To use this, you rotate two fingers on the screen to “turn” the dial and choose items on the rotor. Then you can flick up or down to use the selected item. In general, the rotor behaves differently depending on what you are doing on the iPad.
Zoom lets you magnify the entire screen to help you see what’s on the display. To turn Zoom on go into Settings, choose General > Accessibility > Zoom, then tap the Zoom On/Off switch.
You can now double-tap the screen three times (quickly) and it will magnify by 200 percent. Tap again to make it larger or use those same three fingers to drag the magnified screen around.
White on Black
Here is a nice feature to try out that helps of your eyesight is not that good. Essentially this inverts the colors, making it look like a photographic negative and much easier to read.
You turn this on by going to Settings > General > Accessibility, then tap “White on Black.”
If you are hard of hearing in one ear then this accessibility feature is useful. It combines the sound of the left and right channels into a mono signal played on both sides. For people with hearing impairments in one ear this helps them hear the sound in the other ear much easier.
You turn this on by going to Settings > General > Accessibility, then tap the Mono Audio button.
This is a handy feature for everyone to use. It speaks out the text corrections as you are typing. It is very handy if you are typing a large document and don’t want to look down at what you are typing constantly.
Turn this feature on in Settings > General > Accessibility > Speak Auto-Text
Hopefully that sheds some light on all of various options the iPad offers for universal access. I suspect more and more features will be added with future updates, etc. For now, however this is a great set of features that allows everyone to enjoy iPad.