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Support SEND learners with Apple’s best accessibility features

It’s easy to take for granted how modern technology has changed lesson delivery. Many students are now growing up with mobile and desktop technology as an integral part of the learning process, with devices supporting learning from primary school all the way to further education. But Apple devices in classrooms are also having a profound impact on how SEND students access learning, thanks to a raft of built-in accessibility features.


Conal Siddall

Schools with SEND students often struggle to find funding for specialist equipment that can help students with their needs. This equipment can be quite large and make students feel singled out when they have to use that in front of their peers.


Apple's passion

Apple are leading the way when it comes to developing new solutions. They believe that technology is most powerful when it empowers everyone, so each and every Apple product is designed to be accessible from the very start.

iPad features many different tools for many different types of needs. Best of all, it can give SEND students the confidence to collaborate with other class members while using a device that doesn’t impact their ‘street cred’. You’d be surprised at how many accessibility features are built into the latest Apple devices...


Support for deaf or hard of hearing students

Cut through the noise with Live Listen.

If hard of hearing students are struggling to listen in a noisy classroom or lecture hall, Live Listen lets them use Made for iPhone (or iPad) hearing aids and AirPods to help them hear more clearly. For quiet one to one conversations, students can simply move their iPhone or iPad closer to the speaker and the built-in microphone will amplify what they’re saying.


Catch every sign, gesture and facial expression with FaceTime.

With high-quality video that doesn’t lag, FaceTime is a great way for people who use sign language to communicate easily. Facetime is widespread across all Apple devices – Mac, iPhone, and iPad all come equipped with FaceTime built-in. You can include groups in your calls, too, so you can start a conversation with a student, interpreter and yourself easily.


Supporting those with low vision

VoiceOver tells you what’s happening on your screen.

VoiceOver describes exactly what’s happening on your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch or Apple TV, so students can navigate their devices just by listening. This means they can use online books and resources using their device, so they’ll require less support from a teacher during their learning.

Students with colour-blindness can adjust the view on their Mac or iPad to make it work best for them. They can choose from a range of colour filters and even fine tune them to their needs. There’s also an Invert Colours feature, which instantly changes the colour values to create more contrast.


Never miss a word with easy to read text

Magnifier works like a digital magnifying glass. It uses the camera on iPad or iPhone to increase the size of anything students point it at, so they can see the details more clearly. This is great for when teachers are making handouts, as they can give visually impaired students the same handouts as other students, making them feel more included.

There’s also a powerful built-in screen magnifier that lets users enlarge a section of the screen, so they 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 – so you don’t have to worry about apps you’re using in the classroom being readable. And if it’s easier for them to read while hearing the words spoken aloud, Speak Screen can read text from newspapers, books, web pages or email on iPhone or iPad.



Students can control iPad with just their voice

Voice Control opens up an intuitive way to navigate iOS, iPadOS and macOS — using only voice. For those unable to hold a pen or type with a keyboard, improved dictation and richer text-editing features help them write more efficiently, while simple vocal commands let students quickly open and interact with apps.


More ways to be in control

Switch Control is assistive technology that lets people use built-in features as well as switches, a joystick or other adaptive devices to control what’s on the screen. So students can fully interact with your iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV without having to touch it. They can even plug in a Magic Mouse to control their device, so they’ll only need to use one hand to control the iPad.

And if your students can use the touch display but still have trouble using standard gestures like pinch, they can use AssistiveTouch to change them. There’s a similar version for Mac called Accessibility Keyboard, so they can navigate macOS with minimal use of a physical keyboard. The Accessibility Keyboard is fully customisable and gives users advanced typing and navigation capabilities. You can also set up a list of features to be turned on when you triple click the home button, which means the accessibility options can be turned off quickly and easily in a shared setting.


How to open the iPad's accessibility settings

1.     Open Settings.

2.     Tap Accessibility.

3.     Tapping the Accessibility button will open up a screen listing out all of the options which you can toggle on or off.


How we can help

We’ve been working with Apple solutions in education for over 27 years. In that time, we’ve supported many institutions with SEND cohorts who needed solutions to make their teaching and learning more inclusive, such as Birmingham Sensory Support. Our team (many former teachers) understand the importance of technology in the classroom, and how it can be used to make teaching more inclusive.

Whether you’re using iPad, Mac or iPhone, Apple devices can replace bulky, expensive hardware for something that students will be happy to use in the classroom. And our team are here to help you get the most out of your Apple devices.


If you want to talk to our team about using Apple devices for teaching SEND students, get in touch with the team on 03332 409 290 or email For the latest news, follow us on LinkedInFacebook and Twitter.

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