Since the introduction of iPads in 2010 there was a raft of accessibility features built into the operating system (iOS). These features enabled users with a variety of additional needs to make effective use of this new innovative technology. In each update to the iOS, Apple have invested heavily in allowing their technology to be accessed by as many users as possible. In the latest update, iOS 8, Apple have added even more excellent features to the accessibility menu. This means that the iPad is a user friendly teaching tool for any classroom but especially inside an SEN one.
How to find the Accessibility features:
Useful tools for the Visually impaired (but not limited to) include:
Invert colours – useful for some that struggle to see white
Greyscale – takes colours off menu makes less fussy
Speech (Sub Menu) (great tools for the SEN classroom)
Speak selection – highlight text pop up menu will say speak
Speak screen – swipe two fingers down and will speak all text on screen, menu allows options
Speaking rate – change speed of speech
Highlight content – highlights the words being spoken
A run down of how these Speech Accessibility features operate:
The second sub-menu for the visually impaired include:
NB Some excellent features here for any SEN classroom.
Larger text – choose the size of text in most Apple apps
Button shapes – adds an outline to the main buttons to go back through menus; makes them more button like.
Increase contrast (Sub Menu)
Reduce transparency – takes away the see through nature of some parts of the iOS ecosystem, making them clearer to read
Reduce white point – makes whites and other bright colours less bright and glaring
Reduce motion – stops the ‘whoosh’ of apps when they open or close. Stops the movement of the background behind the menus, lots report stops feeling sick when using. Highly recommended to do this to class set of iPads.
On/off switches – gives buttons a 1 and 0, making it clearer for on/off
A run through of these Accessibility features:
The next sub menu is that of Hearing. I personally have very little experience of using this area of the Accessibility menu, although knowing how user friendly iOS devices are i’m sure it would be a simple process to make use of these features in the classroom.
Hearing Aids – allows connection via Bluetooth directly to some brands and models of Hearing Aids.
Mono audio – changes headphones output and speaker to one channel, can change the level for L or R.
A look at Mono Audio feature:
Next, comes the Guided Access function. This is the function that is potentially the most requested by all teachers, but especially those working within the SEN sector! Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the world of…
Guided access – when turned on allows you to lock to an app. Also allows to disable areas of apps, such as buttons, adverts etc. Make sure to set a memorable passcode (the same for all being used in a classroom)-once locked in guided access very difficult to get out of without loosing all data. Also allows to set time limits for children to be inside app, great to use for rewards with TEACCH system.
Lastly, a great tool for those children that have poor motor skills. Inside the Interaction menu, we have..
Home-click speed – allows you to adjust the speed of double and triple clicks on the home button. Three settings. Very useful for those children who struggle to press buttons quickly.
Have a play and a try with some of these in your classroom, some really great, free functions!