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The iPad Accessibility Guide

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Let’s take a deeper look at this iPad accessibility guide to know what it can offer to accommodate people with disabilities.

Table of Contents

The iPad Accessibility Guide

Apple iPads are extremely popular devices ranging from professional use for business transactions to cartoons for small children. The iPad offers features that are compatible with nearly everyone wherever they may be in their walk of life and for whatever purposes they may need. 

iPads also have settings that can be altered to accommodate those with disabilities. These features are known as accessibility settings. Different types of accessibility settings include but are not limited to the following:

  • Keyboard accessibility allows all click functions in a web browser to be done by keyboard navigation.

  • Consistent navigation to allow for ease of web browsing.

  • Image alt text that gives a verbal description of pictures and images for the visually impaired.

  • Voice control or text-to-speech software, such as Speechify, can assist those with reading disabilities.

  • Accessible hyperlinks that are readable and visually notable with appropriate color differences.

  • Sequential heading structures and shortcut links allow for ease of scrolling and navigation

The iPad has specific accessibility settings that were created with ease of operation in mind, along with shortcuts on how to access them. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the options that the iPad offers to accommodate those with disabilities. 

 

Find and Open the iPad’s Accessibility Settings

Opening the accessibility settings on the iPad can be easily done by triple-clicking the “Home” button. For the later generations of iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro, accessibility settings can be turned on or off by triple clicking the top button. 

To slow down the double or triple-click speeds of the “Home” or top button on the iPad device, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “Home Button” or “Top Button” and adjust the speed.

To set up shortcuts for accessibility tools, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “Accessibility Shortcut,” then choose the features that will be used most frequently. 

Accessibility features can also be added to the Control Center and activated as needed from there. To utilize the Control Center for accessibility features, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Control Center,” then tap the “Insert” button next to the accessibility features used most frequently.

    • To activate the feature as needed, open the Control Center and tap the control 

 

Vision Settings

For those who are navigating their smart device with a disability such as low vision or blindness, the iPad has several accessibility settings tailored to impaired vision to make using its functionality a breeze. 

Increase Font Size

The iPad allows adjustments in display and text size features, such as inverting colors for easier readability or changing the way the content appears on your device. There is also a feature available to adjust font size and intensity of font color or tint to make reading easier. 

To change the font size on your iPad, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Display and Brightness”

      • Select “Text Size” then drag the slider to select the desired font size

      • Tap “Larger Text” for even larger font options


Text-to-speech

There are many apps that can integrate with the iOS for iPad to make reading a much simpler task. For example, Speechify is the #1 rated text-to-speech app that will read any text including PDFs, textbooks, and much more. It is available on the appstore.

Text-to-spech apps are desirable as an alternative to accessibility settings because they tend to be more customizable for the specific needs of the user. Turn all reading materials into audiobooks with a text-to-speech apps, such as Speechify.

For iPad, 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 noise that is found in 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.


Zoom

Many apps on the iPad allow you to zoom in and out for better viewing. For instance, in Safari, double-tapping or pinching allows you to look closer or expand. Zoom features also allow you to magnify regardless of what purpose you are using the iPad for. The options available for Zoom accessibility are: 

  • Full-Screen Zoom, which allows magnification of the entire screen

  • Window Zoom, which allows part of the screen to be magnified with a resizable lens

  • Pinned Zoom which magnifies a portion of the screen that stays in one place. 

To set up Zoom settings, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings  

    • Select “Accessibility”  

      • Select “Zoom,” then turn on Zoom.


Any of the following settings under Zoom can be adjusted:

  • Follow Focus: this setting tracks selections, the text insertion point, and typing.

  • Smart Typing: this setting switches to a Window Zoom when a keyboard appears.

  • Keyboard Shortcuts: this setting allows the user to control Zoom using shortcuts on an external keyboard.

  • Zoom Controller: This setting allows the user to turn the controller on, set the controller actions, and adjust the color and opacity.

  • Zoom Region: this setting determines the type of zoom that will be used.Full-Screenned Zoom, Full Screen Zoom, or WindoThisom.

  • Zoom Filter: this setting controls the color filter that will be used with the zoom function. Options are None, Inverted, Grayscale, Grayscale Inverted, or Low Light.

  • Maximum Zoom Level: this setting allows the user to drag the slider to adjust the level of zoom needed.


If the iPad is paired with a pointer device, the following settings can be adjusted under “Pointer Control”:

  • Zoom Pan: this setting determines how the screen will move with the pointer. Options are Continuous, Centered, or Edges.

  • Adjust Size with Zoom: This setting allows the pointer to scale with zoom.

To add Zoom to Accessibility Shortcut, take the following steps: 

  • Go to Settings > 

    • Select “Accessibility” > 

      • Select “Accessibility Shortcut,” then tap “Zoom”.

To use the zoom feature, double-tap the screen with three fingers or use accessibility shortcuts to turn on Zoom. To turn off Zoom, double-tap the screen with three fingers or use accessibility shortcuts.


VoiceOver

VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that allows the use of the iPad’s functionality, even if the screen cannot be seen due to blindness or visual impairment. VoiceOver’s settings such as audio options, language, and voice can be customized.

To set audio options, 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.

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

VoiceOver uses the same language you choose for your iPad by default and the VoiceOver pronunciation of some languages is affected by the Region Format that was chosen. To adjust language settings, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings  

    • Select “General”

      • Select “Language & Region”

        • Tap “iPad Language,” then choose the preferred language.


Adjust the speaking voice used by VoiceOver by taking the following steps:

  • Go to Settings 

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “VoiceOver,” then adjust any of the following options to the desired setting:

        • To adjust the speaking rate, drag the Speaking Rate slider to the desired outcome

        • To choose a voice: 

          • Select “Speech”  

            • Select “Voice,” then choose a voice option.

        • To adjust the pitch: 

          • Select “Speech,” then drag the slider to the desired pitch. 

          • You can also turn on “Use Pitch Change” to have VoiceOver use a higher pitch when using speak selection for the first item of a group (such as a list or table) and a lower pitch when speaking the last item of a group.

        • To specify the pronunciation of certain words: 

          • Select “Speech”

            • Select “Pronunciations” 

              • Select the “Add” button, enter a word or phrase, then dictate or spell out how you want it to be pronounced.

                • Dictation can only be used if it has been turned on. 

                • Enable Dictation in Settings

                  • Select “General,” then select “Keyboards”


To set how much VoiceOver tells you, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “VoiceOver,” then adjust the settings to the desired outcome of each of the following:

        • Verbosity

        • Punctuation

        • Always Speak Notifications


To adjust the visuals associated with VoiceOver, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “VoiceOver,” then adjust the desired options of the following:

        • Large Cursor

        • Caption Panel


Quick Settings can be used to adjust VoiceOver from anywhere on the iPad. To access Quick Settings while VoiceOver is turned on, do a two-finger quadruple tap. To customize Quick Settings, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “VoiceOver” 

        • Select “Quick Settings,” then choose the desired settings.


Invert Colors and Change Contrast

The iPad allows users to invert colors and change contrast for easier readability. When “Color Filters” is turned on, there are four filter options to choose from:

  • Greyscale

  • Red/Green for Protanopia

  • Green/Red for Deuteranopia

  • Blue/Yellow for Tritanopia

The color intensity of the filters can be adjusted to fit the user’s needs. Use the Intensity slider to customize a filter that is more or less intense as desired. If the user has a color or light sensitivity, select “Color Tint” to change the hue of the entire display on the iPad. Sliders can be used to adjust the display’s hue and intensity. Other options available under Intensity and Color Tint are:

  • Reduce Transparency

  • Increase Contrast

  • Differentiate Without Color

  • Reduce White Point

 

Hearing Settings

The iPad offers several options to assist the hearing impaired such as compatibility with hearing devices and integration with apps. 

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

To pair a hearing device with the iPad, open the battery doors on the hearing device. On the iPad, 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 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.

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 iPad, 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, you 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


The hearing device settings can be quickly adjusted or the status of your hearing devices may be viewed with the following accessibility shortcuts:

  • From the Home Screen, Triple-click the Home button (on an iPad with a Home button)

  • Triple-click the top button (on other iPad models)

  • Use Control Center


Hearing settings can also be adjusted to provide subtitles or audio descriptions.

  • Go to Settings 

    • Accessibility 

      • Subtitles & Captioning

 

Guided Access

Guided Access helps the user to stay focused on a task by temporarily restricting the iPad’s functionality to a single app and allowing you to control which app features are available. Any of the following options are available:

  • Disable areas of the screen that aren’t relevant to a task, or areas where an accidental gesture might cause a distraction

  • Let a child use the device

  • Disable the iPad hardware buttons

  • Limit how long someone can use the app


To set up Guided Access, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility,” then tuSelect Guided Access.

      • Selet “Passcode Settings”

        • Select “Set Guided Access Passcode”

          • Enter a passcode, then re-enter it. 

          • From here, Face ID or Touch ID can also be turned on as a way to end a Guided Access session.


To start a Guided Access session, take the following steps:

  • Open the desired app

  • Triple-click the side or home button depending on the model of iPad.

  • Use one finger to circle any areas on the screen that should not respond to touch. Circles,can be moved, resized or deleted.

    • Select “Guided Access”

      • Select “Start”


To control features or set a time limit for Guided Access, take the following steps: 

  • Triple-click the Side or Home button

    • Select “Options” 

    • If “Options” is unavailable, triple-click the Side or Home button again and enter the guided access passcode.

      • Turn on the desired options, then select “Done.”

      • The following options can be controlled under Guided Access options:

        • Sleep/Wake Button

          • Turn on/off the Sleep/Wake button on your device

        • Volume Buttons

          • Turn on/off the volume buttons on your device

        • Motion

          • Turn on/off to limit how the device responds to motion. For example, when off, the screen won’t respond when shaken and the screen won’t rotate no matter how the device is held

        • Keyboards

          • Turn on/off the keyboard

        • Touch

          • This setting should be off for the device to ignore screen touches

        • Dictionary Lookup

          • To use the Look Up feature when text is selected, turn this on

        • Time Limit

          • Choose a time limit for your Guided Access session


To end a Guided Access session, take the following steps:

  • Triple-click the Side or Home button

    • Enter the Guided Access passcode, then Select “End.” 


Physical/Motor Settings

AssistiveTouch allows the user to adapt touch accommodations of the iPad to the user’s unique physical needs. The user can create their own gestures and even customize the layout of the AssistiveTouch menu

There are a few ways to enable AssistiveTouch:

  • Go to Settings 

    • Select “Accessibility”  

      • Select “Touch” 

        • Select “AssistiveTouch,” then turn on AssistiveTouch

  • Use “Hey Siri” to say, “Turn on AssistiveTouch”

  • Go to Settings 

    • Select “Accessibility” 

      • Select “Accessibility Shortcut,” then turn on AssistiveTouch

  • AssistiveTouch can also be added to the Accessibility Shortcut for quick access from Control Center.


Instead of gestures, AssistiveTouch allows you to access menus such as:

  • Control Center

  • Notification Center

  • Spotlight

  • Home

  • App Switcher

  • Speak Screen


Instead of pressing buttons, AssistiveTouch gives access to functions that would otherwise be controlled by pressing buttons or moving the device such as:

  • Activate the Accessibility Shortcut

  • Lock the screen

  • Adjust the volume

  • Summon Siri

  • Restart the device

  • Capture a screenshot

  • Simulate shaking the device


To assign a function to a specific gesture, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings 

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “Touch”

        • Select “AssistiveTouch”

          • Under the Custom Actions heading, select Single-Tap, Double-Tap, or Long Press.

          • Choose an action from the list to assign to the gesture.

To create a new gesture, taps and swipes may be recorded using the touchscreen and saved to the AssistiveTouch menu. To create a new gesture, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings 

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “Touch”

        • Select “AssistiveTouch,” then tap Create New Gesture.

          • Recording automatically begins when the screen is touched. The desired gesture can be recorded and once complete, select “Stop”

          • Press “Play” to review the recording of the gesture. If the gesture needs to be rerecorded, tap “Record” 

          • Press Save to name your gesture when complete


Enable Switch Control

Switch Control is an assistive technology available on Mac and iOS that helps you enter text, choose menus, move your pointer, and more—all by clicking a switch. You can use a keyboard key, mouse button, trackpad button, joystick, or adaptive device as one or more switches.

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility “

      • Select “Switch Control”

        • Select “Switches”

        • Tap “Add New Switch” and choose a source. 

        • Follow the onscreen steps to choose how the switch will work. 

        • Turn on Switch Control, so the new switch can be used.


The Accessibility Shortcut

Opening the accessibility settings on the iPad can be easily done by triple-clicking the “Home” button. For the later generations of iPad mini, iPad Air, iPad Pro, and iPod touch, accessibility settings can be turned on or off by triple clicking the top button. 

To set up shortcuts for accessibility tools, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Accessibility”

      • Select “Accessibility Shortcut,” then choose the features that will be used most frequently. 


Control Center Shortcuts:

Accessibility features can also be added to the Control Center and activated as needed from there. To utilize the Control Center for accessibility features, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Control Center,” then tap the “Insert” button next to the accessibility features used most frequently.

    • To activate the feature as needed, open the Control Center and tap the control.


PEOPLE ALSO ASK

How do I enable accessibility on my iPad?

Opening the accessibility settings on the iPad can be easily done by triple-clicking the “Home” button. For the later generations of iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro, accessibility settings can be turned on or off by triple clicking the top button. 

What are accessibility options on iPad?

iPads 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. 

Where is AssistiveTouch on iPad?

There are a few ways to enable AssistiveTouch:

  • Go to Settings 

    • Select “Accessibility”  

      • Select “Touch” 

        • Select “AssistiveTouch,” then turn on AssistiveTouch

  • Use “Hey Siri” to say, “Turn on AssistiveTouch”

  • Go to Settings 

    • Select “Accessibility” 

      • Select “Accessibility Shortcut,” then turn on AssistiveTouch


How do I change the size of my screen?

To use the zoom feature, double-tap the screen with three fingers or use accessibility shortcuts to turn on Zoom. To turn off Zoom, double-tap the screen with three fingers or use accessibility shortcuts.


How do I enable VoiceOver?

VoiceOver can be enabled under the Accessibility Settings which can be accessed by triple-clicking the home or top of the screen button. Under settings, select VoiceOver and toggle it on or off. 


How can I increase the size of the text on my iPad?

To change the font size on your Apple iPad, take the following steps:

  • Go to Settings

    • Select “Display and Brightness”

      • Select “Text Size” then drag the slider to select the desired font size

      • Tap “Larger Text” for even larger font options

Does Speechify work on Apple Watch or Apple TV?

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


What are some tips for using the iPad with visual impairments?

In the Settings app, go to General > Accessibility to view the low vision options:

  • Font (Larger Text)

  • Bold Text

  • Invert Colors

  • Grayscale

  • Brightness

  • Increase Contrast

  • Reduce Motion

  • On/Off Labels

  • Button Shapes

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