Accessibility

Force Touch is going to do incredible things for accessibility

I'm really excited about Force Touch for a bunch of reasons. But where I think it's going to really succeed? Accessibility.

I've been thinking about Force Touch almost non-stop since the Apple event a few weeks ago — what it means for Macs now, what it could mean for the future of software development, and how it might change artistry on the iPad. I've also been musing on what it could bring to accessibility in computing.

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Accessibility is for everyone

The point of my work as a freelancer writing about accessibility is to advocate for (and raise awareness of) iOS users with special needs. This is meaningful work to me, as I'm a disabled user myself, and I've worked with children with special needs who have leveraged iOS to help them learn. Yet, for as often as I champion Apple's work in making iOS usable by the disabled, so too have I tried to champion the idea of Accessibility's utility for those with no disabilities at all.

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Making the App Store more accessible

For as much as I laud Apple for their unwavering year-over-year commitment to improving Accessibility on iOS, there remains one area of the operating system that is in dire need of better accessibility, at least visually — the App Store.

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The incredibly empowering technology of iOS 8 and switches

Terrific video by Christopher Hills showing how iOS 8 and the Switch controls have improved his life. While many of us have been extremely happy with how everything from Extensibility to Continuity have made our lives easier and our workflows faster, it's important to remember how assistive technology's are giving people new opportunities and possibilities.

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How to enable grayscale for visual accessibility on your iPhone or iPad

Grayscale mode is a new accessibility feature available in iOS 8 that allows folks with a visual impairment, such as color blindness, disable colors that make the display even harder for them to see. Since some colors are harder to pick out than others for people that are color blind, grayscale mode may make reading menus and viewing images more detailed.

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How to use Accessibility for iPhone and iPad: The ultimate guide

Accessibility — also referred to as inclusivity — is all about making the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad work for as wide a range of people as possible. That can include the very young, the very old, people brand new to computers and mobile devices, and also people with disabilities and special needs. With iOS, Apple has added features to specifically help those with visual impairments, including blindness, color blindness, and low vision, with auditory impairments including deafness in one or both ears, physical or motor skill impairments, including limited coordination or range of motion, and learning challenges, including autism and dyslexia. It also includes general features, like Siri and FaceTime which can provide significant value for the blind or the deaf. Many of these features can be found in Settings, all of them can be found on the iPhone and iPad.

Note: iOS 8 will be adding even more accessibility features for iPhone and iPad. Bookmark this page and check back later this fall when it's released!

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How to invert screen colors for visual accessibility on iPhone and iPad

Inverting screen colors is an Accessibility feature that makes the iPhone and iPad easier on the eyes for some people with a sensitivity to brightness, easier to distinguish for some people with color blindness, and easier to make out for some people with low vision. It can even be used in combination with zoom to greatly increase legibility for anyone with a visual impairment.

Note: Some people invert screen colors as a pseudo-dark theme or nighttime reading mode for when they want to greatly reduce light and glare from the display.

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How to set the triple Home-click shortcut for accessibility on iPhone or iPad

We use single and double clicks on our iPhones and iPads to return to the Home screen and open the app switcher. Apple also offers an accessibility option that lets you enable and customize a triple-click. You can choose between a few options so you can pick the one that's most convenient and useful for you.

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How to connect to hearing aids for auditory accessibility on your iPhone or iPad

Hearing aid support is an Accessibility feature that allows the iPhone and iPad to connect with and manage compatible hearing aids. You can connect to most Bluetooth enabled hearing aids as well as special Made of iPhone (and iPad) hearing aids that use a special version of Bluetooth to provide greater power-efficiency and higher quality digital audio. Made for iPhone (and iPad) hearing aids can also be placed into "live listen" mode where anyone with a hearing impairment can use the iPhone's mic helps pick up conversation and sound. Apple maintains a list of iOS devices and their hearing aid compatibility (HAC) ratings:

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How to enable switch control for motor accessibility on iPhone or iPad

Switch control is an Accessibility feature designed to make the iPhone and iPad easier to use for anyone with a physical and/or motor skills impairment. With Switch control you can scan between items, use crosshairs to pick specific points, or manually select items using multiple switches, and then use an external adaptive switch, your iPhone or iPad screen itself, or even the front FaceTime camera to trigger the switch. Both hardware buttons and software interface elements can be selected and triggered with switches and a variety of options let you set them up just exactly the way you want or need them.

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