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Tip of the Month – May 2016

Physical Accessibility Features for iOS 9 Devices

iOS has built in features to help users with physical or motor challenges users get the most from their device.

For users who are able to access the screen, however tire easily from typing features such as Predictive Text or Dictation may be helpful.

Basic features

Predictive text – offers a list of possible words/next word options encouraging user to decrease the amount of key strokes and speed up text entry. On IOS devices, predictive text adjusts results based on who you’re talk to and what has been said previously within the conversation.

word preditcion


Dictation – by simply tapping the microphone button, your IOS device will convert your words into text.

Touch Accommodations

For users who are able to access the screen but may experience miss hits, IOS devices now have an inbuilt feature to adjust how the screen responds to your touch.

Settings > General > Accessibility > Touch Accommodations

Hold Duration – allows user to select how long you must touch the screen before activation occurs

Ignore Repeat – if a user has a tremor or repetitive movement, the Ignore repeat feature can be used where a time limit can be set where multiple hits during this period is recognized as a single touch.

Tap Assistance

                Use Initial Touch Location – will activate where user first touches the screen

Use Final Touch Location – will activate where user last touches the screen

This feature can be beneficial to clients who are still learning to target and control their movements.touchchat touch accom

Assistive Touch

For users who have difficulties with some features, you can make them accessible with just a tap of a finger.

Settings > General > Accessibility > Touch Accommodations

assistive touch 1assistive touch 2assistive touch 3

Assistive touch allows users to access features on screen, instead of buttons on side of the phone. For example to adjust volume, lock screen, screen shot, multi task, home key. Also under “Custom’, you can add gestures you may be unable to physically do ie pinch, double tap, swipe and then tap the screen to complete this action.


Switch Controls

For users who have limited physical movement, using external switches can enable a user to access their IOS device. Only certain applications are switch accessible.

This can be down by

  • Item scanning (default): where the device highlights the items on the screen and you activate the switch when preferred icon is highlighted.
  • Point Scanning: Where you pick a location on the screen using scanning crosshairs
  • Manual Selection: requires the use of multiple switches, where you are in control of moving the highlighted box and selecting desired icon.

In order to use switch controls with the IOS device you require a Bluetooth or wired interface to connect the switches to the device.


ipad switch 1`ipad switch 2

Switch Set up Option                                     Item Scanning technique



For users with physical challenges, Siri lets you use your voice to control application and dictate in messages and emails.

Using basic commands such as ‘What is the Weather like today’ or ‘Create a meeting with Tom at 9am’, Siri is able to understand your commands and do the task for you.


For a PDF version of this article, please download here Physical Accessibility Features for iOS 9 Devices


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Paula Shennan

Paula Shennan

Speech Language Therapist at The Talklink Trust
I am a Speech and Language Therapist who joined the Talklink Auckland team in November 2011. I have an interest in the area of Assistive Technology and enabling and empowering individuals to communicate using various means.
Paula Shennan

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