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iPad accessibility features for everyone: a focus on physical needs and motor skills

When it comes to designing products that everyone can use, Apple excel – which is rather handy in a school setting when you need to support a class of children with varying needs. Add hybrid learning to the equation and the task of ensuring all learners can access what they need becomes increasingly challenging.


To help you alleviate teachers’ workloads and assist parents and support staff so they can best support students with accessibility needs, we’ve decided to take a look of some of the most useful accessibility features of the iPad – which is, by far, the most popular Apple product in classrooms.

Whether you need to support children with hearing, motor or visual needs, or help struggling readers, the iPad has it all. Features to support learners can be set up by going into Settings > Accessibility. You can even create a shortcut to access the ones you use the most – handy when you’re doing a million jobs at once (go to Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut, then select the features you use the most). Following our last article on visual needs, let’s take a look at two of the most useful features to support learners with physical needs.

Assistive Touch

Assistive Touch is particularly useful for children with physical needs such as limited motor skills, helping them perform actions with limited movements. This also makes it a great tool to use with younger learners (and eager clickers) in nursery and reception, who haven’t got the ability to swipe and pinch. You can even accommodate users’ different motor abilities by customising controls. If a child finds it easier to click a button than pinch the screen, you can assign common tasks to a single button.

To turn it on, go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch.

Tap Assistive Touch then tap the slider to turn the feature on.

A button will appear. Tap this to access common features and actions on your device and 
perform them with one tap.

You can edit which options appear by tapping Customise Top Level Menu. Tap the + icon to add more options, then tap the new rectangle that appears and select the option you want from the drop down. Hit the  icon to remove the last option you added.

You can also change touch control preferences in Touch Accommodations.

Go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Touch Accommodations. Tap the slider next to Touch Accommodations to turn accommodations on. Tap the slider next to each customisation in the list to enable or edit it.

Top tip! Shaking your iPad automatically undoes your last action. If any students shake their iPad by accident, head to Settings > Accessibility > Touch and check the slider next to Shake to Undo is greyed out – that means this feature is turned off.
Voice Control

For users who have limited motor skills, Voice Control is a great alternative to Assistive Touch. By allowing users to control their iPad with their voice, it eliminates the need for physical contact altogether and does what it says on the tin!

To turn it on, go to Settings > Accessibility > Voice Control and tap Set Up Voice Control.

Once you have set it up, tap Continue to see a list of common commands and Done to activate them. To see the list of common commands set up, say “Hey Siri, tell me what to say.”

If you need to simplify voice commands, tap Overlay.

If you want to know more about the benefits of iPad and accessibility, get in touch with our team on 03332 409 290 or email For the latest news, follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.




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