Notes from Accessibility Hands-on Session

Before you read what follows, why not turn on the accessibility technology that will read it to you? It is a transcript for a video. That is, for those who perhaps cannot see the video, there is a description of what happens in it and for those who perhaps cannot hear, there is text of what is said and heard. You could read it - because you can't hear it or you could listen to it because you can't watch it.

Let's listen to it:

  • Open Apple Preferences,
  • find 'Speech' (note it may be with 'Dictation') and
  • turn it on.
  • Note what you need to do to turn it on and off.
  • Now, highlight what follows here, tell Speech to read it to you and listen to it.

[music plays] Camera pans slowly across a home kitchen, then cuts to a mirror. Susan, a woman with spastic cerebral palsy, is in the mirror’s reflection. Her hair is being brushed by her caregiver. Cut to various shots of Susan being dressed by her caregiver. (Susan — narrating with the help of electronic voice software) People think that having a disability is a barrier. [wheels rolling] Close-up of the wheels of her electric wheelchair rolling over a threshold. [buttons clicking] Cut to Susan, working with an iMac at a desk in her home. She moves her head to operate switches on both sides of her wheelchair headrest, typing in Pages through Switch Control. (Susan narrating) But that’s not the way I see it. Close-up of the iMac screen reveals her narration as it’s being typed. Cut to a young man holding up his iPhone while making sign language gestures. (Susan narrating) You can catch up with friends. The man is using FaceTime to have a sign language conversation with a woman. She signs back while smiling. Cut to a young man, a boy and a woman in a park. The young man is taking a photo of the boy with iPhone. (Susan narrating) "You can capture a moment with your family. Since the young man is blind, he uses the VoiceOver feature to follow audible commands in the Camera app. (iPhone) One face. Small face. Focus lock. [Camera app shutter sound] Cut to a close-up of a woman’s hand holding an iPhone. She opens the Home app and taps the Good Morning button. (Susan narrating) And you can start the day bright and early. The woman is lying in her bed. Her lamp turns on and the window shade rises automatically as a result of pressing the button. She moves from the bed to her wheelchair. Cut to a doorway as a man exits, prepared to go on a walk with friends. He looks at his iPhone. (Susan narrating) You can take a trip to somewhere new. Close-up of his ear reveals that he is wearing a hearing aid. [wind blowing loudly] Cut to a close-up of the man’s iPhone screen. He selects Outdoor in his hearing aid settings. [wind blowing quietly] (Woman) Three miles to the summit. He continues walking to catch up with his friends. Cut to a young boy in a classroom, studying on an iPad while wearing headphones. (Susan narrating) You can concentrate on every word of a story. Cut to a close-up of the boy’s iPad screen. “Home Before Dark” is the title of the chapter he’s reading. His iPad reads the first sentence aloud, highlighting each word as it is spoken. (iPad) A bird began to sing. Cut to a close-up of the boy’s face as he reads and listens. (iPad) Jack opened his eyes. Cut to a close-up of an Apple Watch on a woman’s wrist. She taps Outdoor Wheelchair Run Pace in the Workout app, then taps Start. (Susan narrating) You can take the long way home. The woman quickly propels her wheelchair down a paved path beside the beach. Suddenly, she stops and begins moving backward, as if she were in a video being played in reverse. [music swelling] Camera zooms out to reveal that this is a video that Susan is editing in Final Cut Pro. All the previous scenes described above are quickly played in reverse as well. (Susan narrating) Or edit a film ... like this one. [buttons clicking] Cut to a close-up of Susan, moving her head to operate switches on both sides of her wheelchair headrest, as she continues editing the film. (Susan narrating) When technology is designed for everyone ... [buttons clicking] Cut to a close-up of Susan’s iMac screen where she opens a directional controller and selects a downward motion. She moves the final clip into place — a shot of the woman in the wheelchair racing toward the sunset on the horizon. (Susan narrating) ... it lets anyone do what they love ... including me. Cut to a close-up of Susan, smiling. [click sound] Cut to the Apple logo against a white background.

Apple say:

Taking a family portrait. Catching up over FaceTime. Dimming the lights for dinner. We want everyone to enjoy the everyday moments that technology helps make possible, so we work to make every Apple product accessible from the very start. Because the true value of a device isn’t measured by how powerful it is, but by how much it empowers you.

BMUG says that learning to use the accessibility features can take time but if it gives you access to things that are useful, it may be worth the effort. See below exactly how to use each feature on your device.


Many people like listening more than reading. Apple 'Speech' allows you to choose the voice used, and to select what you want read out, and then to listen to text. It even lets you choose how fast the reader works. If reources are properly built, you can do a lot with 'Speech' but note that sometimes the author of the resource has not done the right thin, so Speech cannot work properly.

Other people need more help because they need to know what the device is doing and where they are , so they can contol it as they want. It is not so easy to learn to uset he device without seeing it, but it can be worth it! Apple devices let you compose a text or email without seeing the screen. You can take a perfect group selfie just by hearing how many faces are in the frame. Using these features may feel like magic, but it’s very much by design.

VoiceOver tells you what’s happening on your screen.

VoiceOver describes exactly what’s happening on your iPhone, Mac, Apple Watch or Apple TV, so you can navigate your device just by listening. Apple’s built-in apps support VoiceOver, which will talk you through tasks you do with them.

Of course, people who depend upon VoiceOver learn all sorts of tricks to make it work better for their needs. If you need help with seeing what is on the screen AND the resource provider has encoded the resource properly, you can get a lot of help from VoiceOver. Unfotuntely, not all resource providers know how to do the proper encoding, or bother to do it, so not everything is 'accessible'.

Display Accommodations. Easy on the eyes.

If you have colour blindness or other vision challenges, you can adjust the view on your Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV so it works better for you. Choose from a preset range of colour filters on your iPhone or iPad or fine-tune them. And turn on Invert Colours on all your devices to instantly change the values and create more contrast.

Magnifier works like a digital magnifying glass. It uses the camera on your iPad or iPhone to increase the size of anything you point it at, so you can see the details more clearly.

Upsize the text in apps.

When you activate larger Dynamic Type on iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch, the text inside apps like Mail, Messages and Settings is converted to a larger, easier-to-read size.

Magnifier works like a digital magnifying glass. It uses the camera on your iPad or iPhone to increase the size of anything you point it at, so you can see the details more clearly.

Get a closer look with Zoom.

Zoom is a powerful built-in screen magnifier that lets you enlarge a section of your screen to many times its normal size, so you can better see what’s on the display. It works on Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Apple TV and all apps from the App Store.


We want to keep everyone in the conversation.

Apple build features into every operating system and every device to help people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Cut through the noise with Live Listen.

Whether you’re having dinner in a loud restaurant or taking a class in a crowded lecture hall, Live Listen lets you fine-tune your Made for iPhone hearing aids and AirPods to help you hear more clearly. For quiet conversations, move your iPhone or iPad closer to the people who are speaking, and the built-in microphone will amplify what they’re saying.

Catch every sign, gesture and facial expression with FaceTime.

With high-quality video and a fast frame rate, FaceTime is a great way for people who use sign language to communicate easily. And because Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod touch all come equipped with FaceTime, you can talk to iOS and macOS users across the street or across the globe.

There’s a lot more to closed captioning than just reading dialogue. You can also use it to display music and sound effects while you watch movies and TV shows on any Apple device. So everyone can enjoy a true cinematic experience.

See your phone ring with LED flash.

Don’t miss an incoming FaceTime call, text message, email or notification. Just set the LED light on your iPhone camera to flash. Instead of getting an audio alert, you’ll see a blinking light from the rear camera.

Type a note to Siri.

Siri helps you with the things you do every day on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. But you can also use Siri without speaking commands. Just set Siri to “Type to Siri” mode and use either a physical or onscreen keyboard to ask questions, set reminders and schedule meetings.

Physical and Motor Skills

Many people find controlling the track pad or mouse difficult, or using the keyboard. Apple features can overcome many of these problems if you learn to use them. It takes time but can be worth it!

A tap. A word. A million possibilities.

There are assistive features in Apple products to give people with physical limitations greater control. You can navigate onscreen keyboards and menus with a single tap using Switch Control, customise accessible Multi-Touch gestures to work best, or control HomeKit-enabled accessories using just voice.

With Switch Control, you’re in control.

Switch Control lets you use built-in features and switches, a joystick or other adaptive devices to control the screen. So you can fully interact with your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV without touching it.

Manage your house and your music. With just voice.

Turn on the lights, lock the doors or play the latest hit song just by speaking. HomePod is a Siri-enabled intelligent assistant that works with your HomeKit-enabled accessories and a music speaker. And now with Siri Shortcuts for HomePod, iOS and watchOS, you can run multi-action commands through simple phrases custom-designed to fit your needs.

If you have trouble using standard gestures, like pinch, you can use AssistiveTouch to change them. Customise gestures and make other features accessible with just a touch from the AssistiveTouch menu.

Activity and Workout apps. Set a goal, then push yourself past it.

Apple Watch has fitness algorithms designed for wheelchair users. Instead of steps, the Workout and Activity apps track your pushes and keep you motivated. Close your rings with reminders like “time to roll”, and enjoy wheelchair-specific workouts.

Accessibility Keyboard. Type what you see.

You can navigate macOS with minimal use of a physical keyboard. The Accessibility Keyboard is fully customisable and gives users advanced typing and navigation capabilities. And now it includes new toolbar support, as well as improved typing capabilities, autocapitalisation and word suggestions.

Powerful innovations come together to help you communicate.

Every iPad, iPhone and Mac has built-in communication features that support learning. FaceTime lets you communicate visually, using sign language, gestures or facial expressions. Speak Selection helps with speech development by speaking words you’re reading. And Text to Speech can make learning easier by letting you hear what you’re reading and writing. There are also many third-party apps in the App Store, including TouchChat, to help you communicate more easily.

Learning and Literacy

Remember that there are a lot of resources in different languages. You can translate them, or have them read to you when otherwise you could not use them.

Focus your attention. Unleash your imagination.

Apple products include technologies that can read words or whole pages aloud for auditory learners. And now Screen Time helps everyone better understand and manage device usage. Whether it’s for you or a family member, you can view the amount of time spent in apps and set specific limits for each one.

With Speak Screen, a reading experience can be a listening experience.

If it’s easier for you to read while hearing the words spoken aloud, Speak Screen can read text from newspapers, books, web pages or email on your iPhone or iPad.

With Typing Feedback turned on, your iPad or iPhone can give you spoken feedback, including text corrections and word suggestions, as you type. So you can stay focused on what you’re typing.

Bring focus with Guided Access.

Guided Access lets parents, teachers or therapists limit iPad to one app at a time, and limit the amount of time spent in an app. So iPad can be a powerful tool for people with autism or attention and sensory challenges.

Safari Reader puts the emphasis on content.

For some students, navigating the web on iPad, iPhone or Mac can be sensory overload. Safari Reader reduces the visual clutter. It strips away ads, buttons and navigation bars, allowing you to focus on just the content you want. And on Mac, you can choose to use Reader automatically on websites where it’s available.

Explore the accessibility features built into Apple products.