Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day with our iOS 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.

How to use voice control with Siri for iPhone and iPad

Siri is the name of Apple's personal digital assistant, and one of its most important accessibility features. That's because Siri is voice control that talks back to you, that understands relationships and context, and with a personality straight out of Pixar. Ask Siri questions, or ask Siri to do things for you, just like you would ask a real assistant, and Siri will help keep you connected, informed, in the right place, and on time. You can even use Siri's built-in dictation feature to enter text almost everywhere by simply using your voice.

How to use VoiceOver on iPhone and iPad

VoiceOver is an accessibility feature that makes the iPhone and iPad easier to operate for blind people or people with low vision. With VoiceOver, anyone with a visual impairment can have their iPhone or iPad's screen read to them, including buttons, icons, links, and other interface elements, and use gestures to navigate and select options. Because VoiceOver is included in Apple's UIKit framework for developers, any app using default controls gets VoiceOver support built right in.

How to magnify your screen with zoom for iPhone and iPad

Zoom is an accessibility feature that makes everything from text to icons to interface elements bigger and easier to see on the iPhone and iPad. Zoom magnification defaults to 200% but can be set from 100%-500% to help anyone with low vision of any level. When in zoomed mode, all the standard navigation and selection gestures — tap, swipe, and pinch — work just like normal. Zoom can even work alongside VoiceOver to provide even greater assistance for those with visual impairments.

Note: Designers use zoom as well to help check pixel-level details on-screen.

How to use your camera as a magnifying glass on iPhone and iPad

The Magnifier essentially turns your iPhone or iPad into a magnifying glass, using the built-in camera. If you have trouble reading the newspaper or need to see the fine print on a label, just fire up the Magnifier and it'll magnify things up to 500%!

How to use Display Accommodations and Color Filters on iPhone and iPad

Display Accommodations 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.

How to have text read with speak selection on your iPhone and iPad

Speak selection is an accessibility feature that reads aloud any text you've highlighted on your iPhone or iPad. It's ideal anyone who has difficulty making out text because of small size or style, have dyslexia, is just learning a written language, or for any reason just want the words spoken to improve understanding. Speak selection can even highlight words as they're read to aid in comprehension and adjust dialect and speed so you or a family member can better follow along.

How to increase legibility with large and bold text on iPhone and iPad

Large and bold text is an Accessibility feature that helps increase legibility by using the iOS dynamic type engine to make fonts bigger and/or heavier and generally easier to read. For people with low vision, making text larger can magnify words without also magnifying interface elements. For people who need more contrast, making text bold can turn thin, hard-to-see lines into thicker, easier-to-see lines. Applying large or bold text in iOS will make text larger and bolder in all of Apple's apps, and in any App Store apps that support the dynamic type framework.

How to use Touch Accommodations on iPhone and iPad

For people with motor skill impairments, Touch Accommodations is a useful and convenient accessibility feature that helps make using a touchscreen much easier and much less frustrating. These accommodations allow you to set a duration for tapping and holding, ignore extra taps, and more.

How to make buttons more tappable by enabling shape outlines on iPhone and iPad

Button shapes is an accessibility feature that re-creates the outlines found around tappable interface elements in previous versions of iOS. While the new "naked" style button — plain text that more closely resembles a web link than a traditional faux-3D button treatment — maintains the same tap target size, it does make it harder to know exactly where that target is and where it ends. For anyone with eye-hand coordination impairment, button shapes can help increase accuracy and reduce frustration.

How to increase contrast and reduce motion on iPhone and iPad

Increase contrast is an accessibility feature that makes it easier to make out text and interface elements on iPhone and iPad. While one of the modern design tenets at Apple is depth, achieved by layers of transparency and blur, for some people with visual impairments, it results mainly in noise and distraction. With increased contrast and reduced motion, the transparency becomes solid and the blue becomes sharp, making everything clearer and easier to read, tap, and understand.

How to use FaceTime to make video calls on your iPhone or iPad

FaceTime is Apple's voice over IP (VoIP) calling service. It allows anyone with a recent iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or Mac to make free video (or audio) calls to any other Apple user over Wi-Fi or cellular connection. That makes it perfect for keeping in touch with family who lives far away, with the kids while traveling, with business partners at distant offices, or even with that special someone while shopping for the perfect gift. It also makes it a great accessibility feature for anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing — you can visually communicate with sign-language right over FaceTime.

How to connect to hearing aids and use audio 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.

How to lock attention to a specific app with Guided Access for 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 on 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.

How to enable AssistiveTouch on iPhone or 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.

How to enable Switch Control 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.

How to change the Home button and Face ID behavior on iPhone and iPad

Changing how Face ID works on iPhone X, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR, or the Home button behavior on iPhone 8 and older, is a great accessibility feature for those with motor impairments. Home-click speed is an accessibility feature that lets you increase the interval of time needed for your iPhone or iPad to recognize a double or triple click. Disabling Attention Awareness allows you to unlock your iPhone or iPad with Face ID if you're not able to look directly at it.

For the Home button, by default, if you want to enter multitasking app switcher or bring up the accessibility shortcut you need to double or triple tap quickly, each click following in a very short period of time. Adjusting the speed lets you set a slow or even slower pace, so you have all the time you need to click-click or click-click-click.

How to enable Reachability for one-handed use of your iPhone

All models of iPhone have a large screen size — great for watching movies, not so great for reaching to the top of the screen with the same hand you're holding the iPhone with. With Reachability, you can access buttons and icons at the top of the screen without having to use two hands.

How to set the triple-click Home or Side button shortcut on iPhone and iPad

The triple-click shortcut is an accessibility feature that lets you rapidly access one or more features without having to dive into Settings each time. With the shortcut, a quick triple-click of the Home button on iPhone and iPad with a Home button or the Side button on iPhone and iPad with Face ID can trigger VoiceOver or Zoom, can invert colors or enable AssistiveTouch, or can even bring up a menu so you can choose from several options. If you don't want one or more accessibility features on all the time, but you use them often enough that you want to access them easily at any time, or different members of the family or group who share a device have different accessibility needs, the triple-click shortcut is for you.


Do you have a question about Accessibility on iPhone or iPad? Let us know in the comments and we'll do our best to help!