Enabling Technologies (Part 1). Tools built into iPhones and iPads

 Introduction to Enabling Technologies on the iPad.

In recent years, the range of accessibility features now found within the basic operating systems of the latest computers and mobile devices have become more extensive. Some now offer a range of options that were once only ever available with the purchase of commercial packages. These features do not replace the need for more specialised software for some users, but they do offer some individuals a chance to try options which may offer sufficient support in certain contexts.

BDANTC have embarked upon a series of articles which will help you learn more about some of the features available on the devices you own. We will be looking at a range of operating systems, and begin the series with some of the helpful options Victoria Crivelli learned about the iPad, during a recent workshop run by Mike Watkinson from Jigsaw 24 (www.jigsaw24.com).

Note, these options can also be enabled on your iPhone. All images and details about Settings relate to iOS 10.3.

Key Messages:

  • Before downloading a mass of additional Apps, explore the many useful built in options and accessibility features iPads have to offer to everyone, but especially to support those with additional learning needs such as Dyslexia.
  • Users may prefer to use headphones with a personal microphone for privacy and more accurate recordings e.g. in public or noisy environments.

General Tips:

  • If you “get lost” – just press the home button (round button located at the bottom of the device) at any time.
  • To switch to and from recently used screens – press the home key twice (i.e. double click). Any recently used apps will appear for selection.
  • You must be connected to the internet in order to use Siri . If necessary activate this in Settings (accessed from the home screen).
  • Many of the changes to personalise and increase accessibility can be found within Settings
screenshot of ios accessibility settings

Screenshot showing the accessibility setting option on an iPad.

Gestures: Commands can be made with hand ‘gestures’ i.e. swiping across the screen with one or more fingers.

Search: Swipe down with one finger from the middle of the Home screen. This will enable a keyboard that you can use to search for apps or websites.

Siri:  is an inbuilt facility which may help you to find and do things using voice commands (once activated in Settings). Hold down the home key and then use the microphone to make a search or find an app. Try this by saying something such as:  “Open Safari,” or for those struggling to spell:  “How do you spell…”

ios quick-access menu

Screenshot of the quick access menu on an iPhone.

Quick Access: You can quickly access useful features by swiping up from the bottom of the screen with one finger to access a grey panel. This will let you adjust:

  • Volume control (this is easier than finding the buttons on the side of the iPad).
  • Brightness control.
  • Camera or video.
  • Locking the screen facility (i.e. so it doesn’t spin or change from landscape to portrait).

Features to support reading:

Speak provides text-to speech: Enable this by going to Settings >General >Accessibility > Speech. Choose Speak Selection.

Select text  by tapping with one finger (and hold briefly). If necessary expand the selection by pulling the blue ‘handles’ in the corners of the selection box. Choose the option Speak from the pop-up menu and the selected text will then be read aloud. N.B. Not all documents (e.g. some books) will permit this option.

Screenshot of the accessibility > speech > speak selection setting plus a screenshot of selected text with the option to read it aloud.

Speak Screen: is a screen reader function. (Enable by: Settings >General >Accessibility > Speech. Choose Speak Screen). It will read most text shown in a document e.g. email, PDF, some e-books, webpage.

Speech screen menu in a book.

Swipe down with two fingers from the middle and top of the screen.

This will display a screen where you can change the speed of speech using the hare and tortoise symbols, pause or replay.

Use the X symbol to turn off.

You can also change the Speaking Rate and download different Voices (including those that are enhanced) from Settings >General >Accessibility >Speech. 

Highlighted Text: Text can also be highlighted in some screens and Apps as it is spoken. This may help some dyslexic learners.

Select Settings > General >Accessibility > Speech > Highlight Text. You can choose to highlight the individual words and/or sentences.

Features to support note-taking, writing and spelling:

Predictive text: (Activate through Settings> General>Keyboard>Predictive). Suggested words then appear above the keyboard.

Predicted text about the ipad's onscreen keyboard.

You can also tap and hold each word to hear it spoken in the Predictive panel by activating: Settings >General >Accessibility >Speech >Typing Feedback. Choose the Hold to Speak Predictions option.

Dictate provides speech to text: Activate this in Settings >General >Keyboard >Enable Dictation.

Tap the microphone icon next to the space bar and speak into the microphone. The words will appear as they are spoken. Dictate is a scaled down version of Dragon Dictation and will accept very basic commands such as “new line ” or ” question mark.”   It is ideal for short notes and paragraphs.

Use Speak (described above) to help you edit any typed text.

Some users also like to hear each word spoken back to them as they type. This can be set up from Settings >General >Accessibility >Speech >Typing Feedback and selecting Speak Words. 

Useful Accessibility Features:

Go to Settings from the home page to access other Accessibility features (General > Accessibility) to change :

  • Text size
  • Brightness settings
  • Colour tints and inversion of colours for the screen (General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations). This may be useful for those with visual stress and colour blindness).

To stop Auto Capitalisation (for example in lists and notes) go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

N.B. Third party keyboard apps can also be added after purchase from the App Store and downloaded if required. E.g. ‘Lowercase Keyboard’ is a lowercase keyboard for younger users using OpenDyslexic font. Maths keyboards are also available for easy access to symbols such as square roots.

Simplifying a screen when using web pages: 

The Reader function in Safari strips away distracting and often irrelevant adverts etc from a web page so just the key information is presented. Look for the icon with lines on it inside the e-address window on the left hand side. (Most good web pages will display this icon).

Select the icon and the main text will appear without any additional info / adverts .

The Aa symbol, on the opposite side of the e-address window, enables text size, font and colour background options for web pages. (This feature is available in some e-Books too).

To hear words or part of the text or information, tap and select the text, then choose the Speak or Speak Screen options described above.

For further information and training around this or any other aspect of using iPads in the classroom contact:  education@jigsaw24.com .


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