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How to find and use the accessibility features on iOS iPad

1. VoiceOver

VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that provides audible descriptions of what is on the screen. This includes text, battery level, who is calling and which app a user is hovering over with their finger.

Note: VoiceOver changes the way your iPad operates once enabled. When it is on, use the VoiceOver gestures to operate it.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select VoiceOver.
  4. Tap the toggle once to enable or disable VoiceOver.

Voiceover toggle highlighted.

1.1 Practice VoiceOver gestures

Users can practice VoiceOver gestures gestures in a trial environment without affecting their iPad settings. When practising a motion, VoiceOver describes the gesture and the resulting action.

Users can try different techniques to discover which works best. If a gesture doesn’t work, try a quicker movement, especially for a double-tap or swipe gesture. To swipe, users can try brushing the screen quickly with their fingers. For best results using multi-finger gestures, touch the screen with some space between your fingers.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select VoiceOver.
  4. Turn on VoiceOver, tap VoiceOver Practice, then double-tap to start.
  5. Practice the following gestures with one, two, three, and four fingers:
    • Tap
    • Double-tap
    • Triple-tap
    • Swipe left, right up or down
  6. When you finish practising, tap Done, then double-tap to exit.
  7. To disable voice over, double-tap the toggle.

2. Zoom

Zoom accessibility allows users to enlarge aspects of specific items. For example, you can use zoom to look closer at images and picture details.

2.1. Enabling Zoom
  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Zoom.
  4. Toggle the Zoom switch from off to on.

Screenshot of Zoom menu

2.2. Using Zoom

Once Zoom has been enabled, it will magnify the entire screen:

  • Double-tap three fingers to zoom
  • Drag three fingers to move around the screen
  • Double-tap three fingers and drag to change zoom.

From the Zoom menu, you can change the following settings:

  • Follow Focus: Track your selections, text insertion point, and your typing.
  • Smart Typing: Switch to Windows Zoom when a keyboard appears.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts: Control Zoom using shortcuts on an external keyboard.
  • Zoom Controller: Turn the controller on, set controller actions, and adjust the colour and opacity.
  • Zoom Region: Choose full-screen zoom or Window Zoom.
  • Zoom filter: Choose None, Inverted, Grayscale, Grayscale Inverted or Low light.
  • Maximum Zoom Level: Drag the slider to adjust the level.

Screenshot of features available under the zoom menu.

3. Magnifier

3.1. Enabling Magnifier

The Magnifier function uses your iPad camera to zoom in on street signs and other small text to make it easier to read. You can also use the Magnifier function to take temporary photos, turn on the flashlight, and adjust the camera’s lighting or brightness.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility
  3. Select Accessibility Shortcuts.
  4. Select Magnifier
  5. To start Magnifier, triple-click the home button to start the magnifier. Or find and select the magnifier icon on your home screen.
  6. To end Magnifier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and close the Magnifier app.

Magnifier selected from the list of accessibility shortcuts.

3.2. Using Magnifier

After starting the magnifier app, a camera-like interface will appear, as well as a few small icons at the bottom of the screen.

To adjust the image:

  • Adjust the zoom level: Drag the zoom control slider left or right.
  • Switch to the front or back camera: Tap the camera with arrows switch the camera button, and then tap front or back.
  • Adjust the brightness: Tap the sun shaped brightness button.
  • Adjust the contrast: Tap the two-tone circle contrast button.
  • Apply colour filters: Tap the Venn diagram filters button.
  • Turn on your iPhone’s flashlight: Tap the flashlight-shaped button.
  • Save a magnified object as an image: Tap the large circular button in the bottom centre of the screen. You can then share this via the share icon at the top right of your screen
  • Detect people around you: On iPad Pro, you can detect people and help you maintain a physical or social distance from others.

Controls for magnifier appear on the screen once it has been enabled.

4. Display & Text Size

Display and Text Size allow users to personalise how text appears on their screen.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Display & Text Size.
  4. From the Display & Text Size menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Bold Text: Display text in bold.
    • Larger Text: Enable larger text then adjust the size using the slider.
    • Button Shapes: Underlines text you can tap.
    • On/Off Labels: Indicates switches turned on as ‘1’ and off as ‘0’.
    • Reduce Transparency: Reduces transparency by blurring some background.
    • Increase Contrast: Alters colours and text styling to improve contrast.
    • Differentiate Without Colour: Replaces items that rely on colour with alternatives.
    • Smart Invert: Reverses the colours of the display except for image, media and some apps that use dark colour styles.
    • Classic Invert: Reverses the colour of the display.
    • Colour Filters: Tap a filter to apply it. To adjust the intensity or hue, drag the sliders.
    • Reduce White Point: This setting reduces the intensity of bright colours.
    • Auto-Brightness: This setting automatically adjusts the screen brightness for current light conditions using the built-in ambient light sensor.

Features in the Display & Text Size menu.

5. Display Settings

Display Settings allows users to personalise the appearance of the device’s system and how text is stylised on their screens.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Display & Brightness.
  3. From the Display & Brightness menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Appearance: Change between light and dark theme.
    • Brightness: Use the slider to adjust device brightness.
    • True Tone: Automatically adjusts display brightness depending on the user’s physical environment
    • Night Shift: Automatically shifts the colour of the device’s display screen to the warmer end of the colour spectrum.
    • Text Size: Use the slider at the bottom of the screen to adjust the size of the text.
    • Bold Text: Embolden the text on your screen.
    • Display Zoom: Choose a view for iPad. The zoomed option shows larger controls while the standard option shows more content.

Features in the Display and Brightness menu.

6. Motion

If you are sensitive to motion effects or screen movement on your device, you can use reduce motion to turn off these effects.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Search for Accessibility.
  3. Select Motion.
  4. From the Motion menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Reduce Motion: Reduces the motion of the user interface, including the parallax effect of icons
    • Auto-Play Message Effects: Allows the Messages app to automatically play full-screen effects. If you turn this setting off, you can still manually play effects by tapping Replay below the message bubble.
    • Auto-Play Video Previews: Allows apps such as the App Store to automatically play video previews.
    • Limit Frame Rate: Limits the maximum frame rate of the display to 60 frames per second (on supported iPad models).

Features in the motion menu.

7. Spoken Content

Enable your iPad to read text out loud to you through the Spoken Content feature.

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Search for Accessibility.
  3. Select Spoken Content.
  4. From the Spoken Content menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Speak Selection: To hear the selected text, tap the Speak button.
    • Speak Screen: To hear the entire screen, swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen.
    • Speech Controller (Only available if speak screen is on): Show the controller for quick access to Speak Screen and Speak on Touch.
    • Highlight Content (Only available if speak screen or Speak selection is on): iPad can highlight words, sentences, or both as they’re spoken. Users can customise the highlight colour and style.
    • Typing Feedback: Users can configure typing feedback for onscreen and external keyboards and choose to have the iPad speak each character, entire words, auto-corrections, auto-capitalizations, and typing predictions.
    • Voices: Choose a voice and dialect.
    • Speaking Rate: Drag the slider to adjust the speaking rate.
    • Pronunciations: Users can dictate or spell out how they want certain phrases to be spoken. 

Features in the Spoken Content menu.

8. Audio Descriptions

If there is video content that includes audio descriptions of scenes, the iPad can play the descriptions. Users can watch movies with detailed audio descriptions on their iPad. Look for the Audio Description icon under the movie title on the Apple TV app or the iTunes Store.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Audio Descriptions.
  4. Tap the toggle to enable Audio Descriptions.

Screenshot of Audio Description menu with on switch.

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1. Hearing Devices

1.1 Connecting Hearing Devices
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Hearing Devices.
  4. Tap the Bluetooth toggle on.
    Note: If Bluetooth is enabled, your iPad will automatically search for a hearing device.
  5. When the name of the hearing aid appears below MFi Hearing Devices (this can take a short while), select it and respond to the pairing request.
  6. From the Hearing Devices menu, you can also enable Hearing Aid Compatibility to improve audio quality with some hearing aids.

Features in the Hearing Devices menu.

2. Sound Recognition

Sound Recognition listens for certain sounds and uses on-device intelligence to notify users when a specific sound is detected. iPads can continuously listen for certain sounds (for example, a crying baby, doorbell, or siren) and notify users when it recognises these sounds.

Note: Do not rely on your iPad to recognise sounds in circumstances where one may be harmed or injured, in high-risk or emergencies, or for navigation.

2.1 How to use the Sound Recognition
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Sound Recognition.
  4. Turn on Sound Recognition.
  5. Tap Sounds, then turn on the sounds you want the iPad to recognise.

Screenshot of settings menu, with the Sound Recognition feature.

3. Audio and Visual Accessibility 

Adjust audio and visual accessibility settings to suit your hearing needs.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Audio & Visual.
  4. From the Audio & Visual menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Headphone Accommodations: Customise the audio for supported Apple and Beats headphones.
    • Background Sounds: Plays background sounds to mask unwanted environmental noise.
    • Mono Audio: Turn on to combine the left and right channels to play the same content.
    • Phone Noise Cancellation: Reduces ambient noise on phone calls when holding the receiver to your ear.
    • Headphone Notifications: Protects the user’s hearing by notifying them if they’ve been listening to loud headphones for long enough that it could affect their hearing.
    • Balance: Drag the Left-Right Stereo Balance slider.

Screenshot of Audio/Visual menu, with the Mono Audio and Balance feature.

4. Subtitles & Captioning

When playing video content in a supported app, users can turn on subtitles and closed captions if they are available.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select find Subtitles & Captioning.
  4. From the Subtitles & Captioning menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Closed Captions + SDH: If they’re available, use closed captions or SDH instead of standard subtitles for content played on your Mac.
    • Style: Choose from available built-in caption styles including transparent background, classic, large text and outline text.
    • Show Audio Transcriptions: Display audio transcriptions for announcements from HomePod.

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1. Touch

1.1. AssistiveTouch

AssistiveTouch is an accessibility feature that can help people with mobility disabilities get the most out of the best iPhone or iPad. For example, with AssistiveTouch enabled, users, can perform actions like pinching to zoom or 3D Touch with just a tap instead.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Search for Accessibility.
  3. Select Touch.
  4. Tap AssistiveTouch.
  5. Toggle switch to switch on.
  6. A circular menu will now appear on the screen. You can move the menu anywhere along the edge of your device.
  7. Tap the button once to open the AssistiveTouch menu.
  8. From the Assistive Touch Menu, you can perform some of the following actions:
    • Activate the Accessibility Shortcut
    • Lock the screen
    • Adjust the volume
    • Summon Siri
    • Restart the device
    • Capture a screenshot
    • Simulate shaking the device
  9. Tap anywhere outside of the AssistiveTouch menu to close it.

Screenshot of Touch menu, with the AssistiveTouch switch.

Screenshot of AssistiveTouch Menu.

1.2. Haptic Touch

Haptic touch allows users to press on the display using different lengths of time to reveal content previews, actions, and contextual menus.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Touch.
  4. Select Haptic Touch.
  5. From the Haptic Touch menu, you can choose between fast or slow for Touch Duration and perform a Touch Duration Test.

Features in the Haptic Touch menu.

1.3. Touch Accommodations

Adjust how the screen responds to touch with Touch Accommodations. Control how long a screen can be touched before it’s recognised, or whether repeat touches are ignored. This way, a user can touch anywhere on the screen without accidentally performing an action.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Touch.
  4. Select Touch Accommodations.
  5. From the Touch Accommodations menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Hold Duration: Determine how long you press the screen before your touch is recognised.
    • Ignore repeat: Set a duration during which multiple taps will be recognised as one tap.
    • Tap Assistance: Allow any single finger gesture to perform a tap.

Screenshot of Touch Accommodations menu.

1.4. Face ID & Attention

Face ID & Attention is a feature that allows people to change the way the iPad opens. Usually, iPads utilise Face ID to open their phone, however, it requires the full attention of the user, meaning that the user’s eyes have to be focusing on the screen. For those who are unable to do so, Apple has implemented a feature within the accessibility category to turn this off.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Face ID & Attention.
  4. From the Face ID & Attention menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Require Attention for Face ID: When enabled, your device will require you to look directly at your phone to unlock it.
    • Attention Aware Features: iPad will check for attention before dimming the display, expanding a notification when locked or lowering the volume of some alerts.
    • Haptic on Successful Authentication: Play a haptic when Face ID successfully unlocks the iPad, authorises Apple Pay or verifies iTunes and Apple Store purchases.

2. Switch Control

Switch Control is an accessibility feature that allows folks with limited mobility to have full use of their device with the help of ability switches and other adaptive devices. Items on the screen are sequentially highlighted and can be activated by tapping, moving your head in front of the selfie camera, or pressing adaptive switches.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Switch Control.
  4. Tap on the Switch Control toggle to enable it.

3. Voice Control

With Voice Control, users can navigate and interact with their device using their voice to tap, swipe, type and more.

Note: Voice Control isn’t available in all countries or regions. Voice Control uses the Siri speech recognition engine for US English only.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Voice Control.
  4. Tap on the toggle to Set Up Voice Control.
  5. A download will begin in the background. When the download is complete, a microphone will appear in the status bar of your device that indicates that Voice Control is listening or not listening.
  6. To view the full list of commands, select the Customise Commands from the Voice Control menu.

4. Keyboards

If you have difficulties using the touchscreen, you can control your iPad using shortcuts on an external keyboard.

Note: An external keyboard needs to be connected via Bluetooth before it can be used.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Keyboards.
  4. Select Full Keyboard Access.
  5. Tap the toggle to enable Full Keyboard Access.
  6. You can now use the external keyboard to control your iPad.

Toggle for Full Keyboard Access.

5. Top Button

Apple provides the opportunity for those with limited mobility to use the top button more efficiently by giving users the ability to change the button’s response time.

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Top Button.
  4. From the Top button menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Click speed: Adjust the speed required to double or triple-click the side button.
    • Press and Hold to Speak: Siri will respond when you press and hold the top button.

Features in the Top Button/Touch ID menu

6. Guided Access

Guided Access keeps the iPad in a single app and allows the user to control which features are available during a session.

6.1. Enabling Guided Access
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Guided Access.
  4. Tap toggle the switch from off to on.
  5. From the Guided Access menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Passcode Settings: Tap Set Guided Access Passcode, then enter a passcode.
    • Time Limits: Play a sound or speak the time remaining before a Guided Access session ends.
    • Accessibility Shortcut: Turn the shortcut on or off during Guided Access sessions.
    • Display Auto-Lock: Set how long it takes the iPad to automatically lock during a Guided Access session.

Screenshot of Guided Access menu with the switch turned on.

6.2. Starting Guide Access
  1. Open the app you want to use.
  2. Turn on Guided Access using accessibility shortcuts.
  3. Users can circle any area of the screen they would like to disable. Drag the mask into position or use the handles to adjust its size.
  4. Tap Options, then turn on or off any of the following:
    • Top Button (or Sleep/Wake Button)
    • Volume Buttons
    • Motion (to prevent the iPad from switching from portrait to landscape or from responding to other motions)
    • Keyboards
    • Touch
    • Time Limit
  5. Tap Start
6.3. Ending Guided Access Session

Do any of the following:

  • On an iPad with a Home Button: Double-click the Home button, then unlock with Touch ID (if enabled). Or triple-click the Home button, then enter the Guided Access passcode.
  • On iPad Air (4th generation): Double-click the top button, then unlock with Touch ID (if enabled). Or triple-click the top button, then enter the Guided Access passcode.
  • On an iPad with Face ID: Double-click the top button, then unlock with Face ID (if enabled). Or triple-click the top button, then enter the Guided Access passcode.

7. Siri

Siri is often the easiest way to start using accessibility features with the iPad. With Siri, users can open apps, turn settings features on or off, or use Siri as a personal assistant.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Siri.
  4. From the Siri menu, you can change the following settings:
    • Siri: Can choose between enabling type to Siri or listen for voice input when you press and hold the side button
    • Spoken Responses: Choose between Always, When Silent Mode is Off or Only with “Hey Siri”
    • Always Listen for “Hey Siri”: Listen for “Hey Siri” when your iPad is facing down or covered
    • Show Apps Behind Siri: Allows the current app to remain visible while Siri is active.

Screenshot of features in the Siri menu.

8. Accessibility Shortcuts

Add your favourite features to the Accessibility Shortcut, and you will be able to enable and disable them by triple-clicking the top button.

Add Accessibility Shortcut
  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Select Accessibility.
  3. Select Accessibility Shortcut.
  4. Tap on the accessibility features you want to enable by using the shortcut.
  5. If one feature is selected, triple-click the top button to enable/disable it.
  6. If more than one feature is selected, triple-click the top button and then select which feature to enable/disable from the menu.

Magnifier selected from the list of accessibility shortcuts.

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Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Go to the next item: Tab
  • Go to the previous item: Shift–Tab
  • Activate the selected item: Spacebar
  • Go to the Home Screen: Command–H
  • Open the App Switcher: Tab–A
  • Open Control Centre: Tab–C
  • Open Notification Centre: Tab–N
  • Show Help: Tab–H

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Additional Resources

To learn more about the accessibility features found on iOS, visit the Apple website through the following links:

For iPad specific features, click this link:

For more general information on accessibility, including features found on other Apple devices, click this link:

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