How to manage accessibility features on your iPad

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Accessibility features on iOS are available to any user from the moment you buy your iPad or iPhone.  Simply turn on your device and there are built in gestures that are immediately available to you.  These can be invoked by either (triple) clicking the home button (to turn on VoiceOver) or via simple swipe gestures (double-tap the screen with three fingers to turn zoom off and on).

You can manage a variety of accessibility features on your iPad.  To get started and see which features met you needs and are accessible to you, open the Settings App–> General–> Accessibility.  Here you will find numerous options separated out by feature set.


VoiceOver: If you’re visually impaired, you can use VoiceOver to aid you in knowing exactly where you are tapping on your screen.  This is possible by changing gestures in iOS.  For example: a single tap will trigger your iPad to speak out loud to you the selection you tapped.  Double-tapping an app, will then select it.  Furthermore, you can fine tune and customize various options and notifications.

Speak Selection: This is a feature that reads aloud text you’ve highlighted on your iPad.  In addition, it can also highlight any words that are read as they are being read.

Zoom:  Can be activated by triple clicking the home button on your iPad.

In addition, you can also interact with the following features within the Vision category of accessibility.

  • Invert Colors
  • Grayscale
  • Larger Text
  • Bold Text
  • Button Shapes
  • Increase Contrast
  • Reduce Motion
  • On/Off Labels


Hearing Aids:  Hearing aid support is an accessibility feature that allows you to connect your iPad to a hearing aid over Bluetooth.  Additionally, if you have a MFI (Made-for-iPhone/iPad) hearing aid you can place it in a “live listen” mode.  This will allow anyone with a hearing impairment to use their iPad mic to pick up conversations and sounds around them.  In addition, you can also interact with the Mono Audio feature within the Hearing category of accessibility.


Subtitles & Captioning: Although subtitles and captions are offered by default in most videos, and can be selected in the iOS Video App, you can also choose special accessible captions if you are deaf or hard of hearing (SDH) when available. Within iOS you can create your own display styles to fit your needs. You can also manage Video Subscriptions in the Media category.



Guided Access: This is one of my favorites. If you have children who share your iPad on occasion, especially young ones–you absolutely need to learn how to use Guided Access.  The idea behind Guided Access is that you force/restrict the user to stay in the app that is launched on the screen when you hand them your iPad.  You can restrict the user’s time as well as their access within the app via a password you set.  In addition, you can also restrict any and all areas on the screen that you do not want them to interact with–even hardware buttons.  For a more in-depth review of the features found in Guided Access, check out our review.



AssistiveTouch: If you have any trouble interacting with your iPad via touch, you can set up your device to receive simplified gesture inputs that can be performed with or without the use of an additional accessories.  Such gestures include the ability to

  • Adjust the iPad volume
  • Capture a screenshot
  • Select the Home button
  • Interact with Control & Notification Center
  • Use multi-finger gestures

Manage Accessibility features with iTunes

Did you know that you can also use a shortcut, and manage your accessibility features from within iTunes?  To do this connect your iPad to any computer running iTunes.  Then select the device you want to manage from the option of connected devices.  Now from within the summary pane, elect Configure Accessibility in the options section, and select a feature from the abbreviated list of options


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