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iPhone Accessibility Tools

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iPhone Accessibility Tools is created to meet users' interaction, hearing, vision, and learning needs especially those people with disability.

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iPhone Accessibility Tools

Cell phones have become an integral part of everyday life. Nearly everyone has a cell phone and they are rarely used for just phone calls. These devices are so ingrained in the day-to-day culture that they are used to complete a wide range of tasks and functions from opening the garage door to jumping on a zoom call to ordering a pizza on the way home from work. 

The iPhone is one of the most common cell phones, comprising slightly over 50% of all cell phone users. Because of its large market base, Apple has made some very inclusive moves in terms of the accessibility settings and tools available on the iPhone to support the vision, physical and motor, hearing, and learning needs of those with disabilities or impairments.

To turn on Accessibility settings on the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility and adjust the desired settings for any option.

Voice Controls

For those who may have a physical or motor impairment, iPhone can be controlled with the use of voice. Voice options include speaking commands to perform gestures, interacting with screen elements, dictating and editing text, and more.

Before Voice Control can be used for the first time, the iPhone must be connected to the internet to allow for a one-time file download from Apple. Moving forward, an internet connection will not be needed to use the features of Voice Control. 

To set up Voice Control, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “Voice Control”

        • Tap “Set Up Voice Control,” then tap “Continue” to start the file download.

        • When the download is complete, the Voice Control icon appears in the status bar to indicate Voice Control is turned on.

        • Set options such as the following:

          • Language: Set the language and download languages for offline use.

          • Customize Commands: View the available commands and create new commands.

          • Vocabulary: Teach Voice Control new words.

          • Show Confirmation: When Voice Control recognizes a command, a visual confirmation appears at the top of the screen.

          • Play Sound: When Voice Control recognizes a command, an audible sound is played.

          • Show Hints: See command suggestions and hints.

          • Overlay: Display numbers, names, or a grid over screen elements.

          • Attention Aware: On an iPhone with Face ID, Voice Control activates when the user looks at their iPhone and deactivates when they look away.

After Voice Control is set up, there are a few ways to turn it on or off:

  • Activate Siri and say “Turn on Voice Control” or “Turn off Voice Control.”

  • Add Voice Control to Accessibility Shortcuts:

    • Go to Settings

      • Select “Accessibility”

        • Select “Accessibility Shortcut”

          • Select “Voice Control”

When Voice Control is turned on, it will respond to the following commands:

  • “Open Control Center”

  • “Go home”

  • “Tap item name

  • “Open app name

  • “Take a screenshot”

  • “Turn up the volume”

  • To see more Voice Control commands, say “Show me what to say” or “Show commands.”

Voice Control enables the user to navigate iPhone with a screen overlay that shows item names, numbers, or a grid. This overlay setting provides for faster interactions. 

  • For the overlay that displays item names, commands such as “Show names” or “Show names continuously,” can be used for navigation. To select a specific item, the command “Tap item name” will be used. 

  • For the overlay setting that displays numbers, commands such as “Show numbers” or “Show numbers continuously,” can be used for navigation. To select a specific item, the user would say the number next to the item they want. Commands for gestures can also be given, such as “Tap number,” “Long press number,” “Swipe up at number,” or “Double tap number.”

  • The grid can be enabled by using the commands such as “Show grid” or “Show grid continuously.” Once the grid is enabled, any of the following commands will generate an action.

    • Drill down: Say a number to show a more detailed grid.

    • Commands can be used to interact with an area of the grid such as, “Tap number” or “Zoom in number.”

    • To adjust the number of grid rows and columns, go to Settings  > Accessibility > Voice Control > Overlay, then select Numbered Grid. 

      • When Voice Control is turned on, commands such as, “Show grid with five rows,” or “Show grid continuously with three columns” can also be used.

  • To turn off the overlay, say “Hide names,” “Hide numbers,” or “Hide grid.”

When working in a text input area such as writing a document, email, or message, the user can toggle between Dictation mode and Command mode as needed. 

  • In Dictation mode, which is the default mode, any words that are said that aren’t Voice Control commands are entered as text. 

  • In Command mode, command words are ignored and not entered as text.

  • To switch to Command mode, say “Command mode.” When Command mode is on, a dark icon of a crossed-out character appears in the text input area.

  • To switch back to Dictation mode, say “Dictation mode.”



With VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader, the iPhone can be used even if the screen cannot be seen. For those with low vision or blindness, VoiceOver is an effective tool because it gives audible descriptions of what is displayed on the screen such as battery level, incoming calls, and notifications.

When interactions are made with the touch screen, VoiceOver speaks the names of the items they touch. To interact with items such as buttons or links, use VoiceOver gestures. 

When scrolling to a new screen, VoiceOver plays a sound, then selects and speaks the name of the first item on the screen (typically in the top-left corner). VoiceOver notifies the user when the display changes to landscape or portrait orientation, when the screen becomes dimmed or locked, and what’s active on the Lock Screen when the user wakes the iPhone.

An important thing to note while using VoiceOver on iPhone is that it changes the gestures used to control the iPhone. When VoiceOver is on, VoiceOver gestures must be used to operate the iPhone.

To turn VoiceOver on or off, use any of the following methods:

  • Activate Siri and say “Turn on VoiceOver” or “Turn off VoiceOver.”

  • Triple-click the side button or Home button

  • Use the Control Center.

  • Go to Settings  > Accessibility > VoiceOver, then turn the setting on or off.

To set up audio options for VoiceOver on iPhone, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings  

    • Select “Accessibility” 

      • Select “VoiceOver” 

        • Select “Audio,” then set the desired options for the following settings:

          • Sounds: Adjust and preview sound effects.

          • Audio Ducking: Temporarily reduce media playback volume when VoiceOver speaks.

          • Auto-select Speaker in Call: Automatically switch to the speaker during a call when you’re not holding the iPhone to your ear.

          • Send to HDMI: Route audio to externally connected devices, such as an instrument amplifier or a DJ mixer.


Hearing Aids for iPhone

iPhone offers several options to assist the hearing impaired such as compatibility with hearing devices, integration with apps, and subtitles.

To use hearing devices with the iPhone, you can use Made for iPhone (MFi) hearing aids or sound processors and adjust their corresponding settings to the desired outputs. If the hearing device isn’t listed under Settings  > Accessibility > Hearing Devices, it will need to be paired with the iPhone.

To pair a hearing device with the iPad, open the battery doors on the hearing device. On the iPhone, go to Settings and select “Bluetooth,” then make sure Bluetooth is turned on. Close the battery doors on the hearing device.

When the hearing device or airpods appears under Settings  > Accessibility > Hearing Devices (which may take a few minutes), select the name of the device and respond to the pairing request. Pairing can take as long as 60 seconds. When pairing is finished, a checkmark will appear next to the hearing device in the Devices list. The device will only need to be paired once. After the initial pairing, hearing devices automatically reconnect to the iPhone whenever they turn on.

To adjust the settings and view the status of your hearing devices, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings  

    • Select “Accessibility” 

      • Select “Hearing Devices” 

        • Select “MFi Hearing Devices”

        • From here, Hearing Aid Compatibility may be turned on to reduce interference and improve audio quality

To use accessibility shortcuts for the hearing device on the iPhone, take the following steps from the Lock Screen: 

  • Go to Settings  

    • Select “Accessibility” 

      • Select “Hearing Devices” 

        • Select “MFi Hearing Devices,” then turn on “Control on Lock Screen.” From the Lock Screen, the user can do the following:

          • Check the hearing device battery status

          • Adjust ambient microphone volume and equalization

          • Choose which hearing device (left, right, or both) receives streaming audio

          • Control Live Listen

          • Choose whether call audio and media audio are routed to the hearing device

          • Choose to play ringtones through the hearing device

Audio can also be streamed to the hearing device from the iPhone and Siri such as audio calls, facetime calls, Apple TV or Apple Music. Simply select the hearing device under the “Playback Destination” button in the “Now Playing” controls for the app.


Setting shortcuts in Siri

Shortcuts integrate frequently used tasks from multiple apps into one quick action that can be completed with a tap or by asking Siri. These functions can be added by selecting the “Add to Siri” button found in frequently used apps.

The Shortcuts app allows the user to create, edit, and delete a shortcut. The app also offers personalized Starter Shortcuts in the My Shortcuts tab and the Gallery tab offers a creative new way to create customized shortcuts and automate your apps. After a shortcut is created, it can be run by saying “Hey Siri,” then the name of the shortcut that was created.

For example, the user may want to set up a shortcut that opens navigation for their normal route to work and that also sends a message to a family member once they arrive there.

Running Siri Shortcuts requires iOS 12 or later on iPhone, iPod touch, HomePod, or Apple Watch Series 3 or later, and iOS 12 or iPadOS or later on iPad. Shortcuts that require an app to open might not work on HomePod and Apple Watch.

Siri will begin to learn the user’s routines across their apps. Siri then suggests an easy way to perform common tasks on the Lock Screen or in Search. To use a Siri Suggestion, just tap it on the Lock Screen. Or swipe left on the screen to show Search, then tap the Siri Suggestion.

If you don’t want to see Siri Suggestions, go to Settings > Siri & Search, scroll down, and turn off Suggestions while Searching, Suggestions on Lock Screen, Suggestions on Home Screen, and Suggestions when Sharing.


Reading Support

Many apps can integrate with Mac and iOS for iPhone to make reading a much simpler task. For example, Speechify is the #1 rated text-to-speech app (available on the appstore) that will read any text including PDFs, textbooks, and much more. 

Text-to-speech apps are desirable as an alternative to accessibility settings because they tend to be more customizable for the specific needs of the user. For conditions such as ADHD and dyslexia, Speechify is an extremely helpful tool. Turn all reading materials into audiobooks with a text-to-speech app, such as Speechify.

For iPhone, anything that is copied to the clipboard can be read with the Speechify app. Simply copy the text of imessages, emails, or word documents and open the Speechify app. Speechify will recognize the text that is sitting in the clipboard and offer it as an option to be read aloud

For documents such as PDFs, share the files with the Speechify app. Once the file is shared, open it in the app to select the specific pages or text desired. By selecting specific text, the app allows you to crop out the noise that is found in the headers and footers of documents. Once these crops have been made, Speechify app lets you apply the settings to all pages in a document to keep the reading selections consistent throughout a single document.

Additionally, pictures can be taken with the iPhone directly from the Speechify app. These pictures can be cropped similarly to PDFs to remove any noise that makes its way into the photo. For example, roughly 15 seconds of photographing pages from a book can get you 20 minutes of audio reading.


How to enable iPhone accessibility features

Opening the accessibility settings on the iPhone can be easily done by triple-clicking the “Home” button for models like the iOS 15, or the side button for an iPhone with FaceID such as the iPhone X or iPhone Pro Max. 

Accessibility features can also be accessed via the Control Center under Settings. Tap “+” next to frequently used features. To activate a feature from the Control Center open the Control Center and select the feature.

Additionally, accessibility features can be enabled by asking Siri. For example, “Hey, Siri. Turn on VoiceOver.”



What are iPhone accessibility options?

iPhones have settings that can be altered to accommodate those with disabilities. These features are known as accessibility settings and they provide vision assistance, hearing assistance, learning-based guided access, and physical and motor assistance settings. 

After you set up your iPhone, how do you adjust accessibility settings?

  • To turn on Accessibility settings on the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility

    • From here, choose any of the following features: Vision. VoiceOver. Zoom. Magnifier. Display and text size for larger text and invert color. Motion. Spoken content. Audio descriptions. Physical and motor. AssistiveTouch. Touch accommodations. Back tap. Reachability. Call audio routing. Switch Control.

How to Turn off Assistive Touch on an iPhone

To turn off AssistiveTouch, go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Assistive Touch, then slide the icon from “On” to “Off.”

Does Speechify work on Apple Watch or Apple TV?

At this time, Speechify is not compatible with Apple Watch or Apple TV.

How do you set up accessibility on iPhone?

To turn on Accessibility settings on the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility and toggle it on or off. If you have trouble, contact apple support.

How do you set up sound recognition on iPhone?

To turn on this Accessibility settings on the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility and toggle Sound Recognition on or off.

How do you set up headphone accommodations?

To turn on this Accessibility settings on the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility, then go to Audio/Visual > Headphone Accommodations, then turn on Headphone Accommodations.

Use accessibility options to set up a new iPhone, iPad, or iPod…

To set up accessibility options on a new iPhone, tap the accessibility button on the Quick Start screen. Select an accessibility option to turn the feature on. Tap back to return to the list of options and select “Done” to return to the setup process. 

How do you check accessibility on iPhone?

To check accessibility on the iPhone, go to Settings > General > Accessibility. Scroll to the bottom of the Accessibility page and tap Accessibility Shortcut. Select one or more of the features you would like to test.

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