If you've got issues with motor skills, iPhone and iPad have accessibility features just for you!

Motor accessibility features in iOS help those with limited dexterity to get the most out of their iPhones and iPads. From switch controls to AssistiveTouch and Guide Access, here's how it all works!

How to activate the Switch Control feature on iPhone and 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.

  1. Launch the Settings app from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Accessibility.

    Launch Settings, tap General, tap Accessibility

  4. Tap on Switch Control under Interaction — it's all the way towards the bottom.
  5. Tap the switch next to Switch Control to turn it on.

    Tap switch control, turn it on

How to use the screen as a trigger with Switch Control on iPhone and iPad

You can immediately start using Switch Control, even without an external accessory, by using the screen as a switch.

Essentially, Switch Control can turn your entire screen into a switch. iOS can then highlight items sequentially and when the item or group you'd like is highlights, tap anywhere on the screen in order to select it.

To use the screen in this way, you've just got to tell Switch Control that you want to use the screen as a trigger by following these steps:

  1. Launch the Settings app from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Accessibility.

    Launch Settings, tap General, tap Accessibility

  4. Tap on Switch Control under Interaction — it's about half-way towards the bottom.
  5. Tap on Switches.
  6. Tap on Add New Switch...

    Tap Swithc Control, tap Switches, tap Add New Switch

  7. Tap on Screen.
  8. Tap on Full Screen
  9. Tap on Select Item under the Scanner.

    Tap Screen, tap Full Screen, tap Select Item

That's it! You're ready to go. If you prefer to use an external accessory, just choose the External option when adding a new switch. As long as your switch is powered on and activated, your iPhone or iPad should easily find it and pair.

As a side note, for those that are setting up Switch Control for use by someone else, it may be easier for you to configure a switch before actually activating Switch Control, just to make the process a little easier. It works in both orders so you can perform the steps in whichever order you prefer.

How to enable AssistiveTouch on iPhone and iPad

AssistiveTouch is an Accessibility feature that makes the iPhone and iPad easier to use for anyone with motor control, coordination, or other forms of physical impairment.

With AssistiveTouch a special on-screen menu lets you easily tap or perform other gestures instead of potentially more difficult or complex manipulations like pressing the hardware Home button, pressing multiple buttons at the same time, or performing other gestures that are uncomfortable or impossible.

The iPhone and iPad can even interface with third-party assistive devices to make sure that, even if they're wheelchair mounted, they remain as accessible and functional as possible for as many people as possible.

  1. Launch the Settings app from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Accessibility.

    Launch Settings, tap General, tap Accessibility

  4. Tap on AssistiveTouch under the Interaction section — it's towards the bottom.
  5. Tap the switch next to AssistiveTouch to turn it on.
  6. Tap on the white circle in a black box that now appears on the right hand side of your screen. This will activate Assistive Touch.

    Tap Assistive Touch, turn it on, tap the white circle to activate it

If you don't like the default position where the AssistiveTouch menu sits, you can also drag it around your Home screen and place it elsewhere. If you're in a specific app and you find it to be in the way, just flick it elsewhere for the time being.

There are many things you can do with AssistiveTouch including bypassing hardware buttons. For instance, you can take a screenshot, turn the volume up or down, access multitasking, and enlist the help of gesture support.

Gestures in AssistiveTouch will be particularly helpful to anyone that has issues with two, three, and four finger swipes. This way you can use AssistiveTouch to perform them while only having to use one finger.

Once AssistiveTouch is activated, just explore the different menus in order to see all it has to offer! If you want to create custom gestures of for use in AssistiveTouch, you can do that as well in the same place you were at to turn on the feature.

How to enable Guided Access on iPhone and iPad

Guide access is an Accessibility feature that lets you lock the iPhone or iPad to a single app. For as long as guided access is enabled, only that one specific app can be used, and there's no way to exit it for the Home screen or any other app.

Guided Access can be extremely useful in education settings, to help kids focus for learning math, language, and other skills, and for working with people on the autistic spectrum. Whether it's a writing app, drawing app, music app, math app, or a story, video, or reading app, guided access helps make sure that all attention remains on that app.

Note: Guided access can also be used by kiosks, restaurants, store, and other businesses to create a dedicated information or transaction device, and it can even be used to create a "guest mode" so you can hand your device to someone and let them use Safari, iBooks, Video, or a game without having to worry about them snooping through your personal information.

  1. Launch the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on General.
  3. Tap on Accessibility.
  4. Tap on Guided Access under the Learning section. It's all the way at the bottom.

    Tap General, tap Accessibility, tap Guided Access

  5. Tap the switch to turn on Guided Access.
  6. Tap on Passcode Settings.
  7. Tap Set Guided Access Passcode and set a passcode.

    Tap the switch to turn on Guided Access, tap Passcode Settings, tap Set Guided Access Passcode, set a passcode

You can toggle Accessibility Shortcut to On so you can triple-click the Home button to enter Guided Access from wherever. You only have to complete this step if you choose.

How to use Guided Access

  1. Launch the app you'd like the intended user to have access to. In this case, we used Camera.
  2. Triple click the Home button to launch Guided Access.
  3. Circle any areas of the screen that you would like to make inaccessible.

    Launch an app, circle the areas that you want to make inaccessible

  4. Tap on Options in the bottom left to choose whether or not you want to grant access to the Sleep/Wake button, Volume buttons, touch screen, and motion. Tap Done to save your selections.
  5. Tap on Start at the top of the screen to begin Guided Access.

    Tap Options, make your choices, tap Start

Once Guided Access is enabled, anyone trying to leave the specific app you've locked it to will receive a banner message telling them to triple-click the Home button to exit. If they don't know the passcode, they won't be able to exit Guided Access unless and until you enter the passcode.

If you've used Guided Access on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, what do you think of it and why do you use it? Are there any improvements you think Apple could make that would allow it to be even more useful for you?