iPhone Accessibility Features for the Average Joe

Apple’s recent series of excellent videos highlighting accessibility features of iOS devices had a lot of people rightly nodding their heads and saying what a noble effort is being made. What most people don’t realise, though, is that there are a number of accessibility features that can improve everyone’s experience of using an iPhone, not just those with a disability. So I thought I’d explain how to use a few of them.

Low Light

What is it?
A way to make your iPhone’s brightness level much lower than the standard minimum level. Once set up, you can trigger it by triple-pressing the home button.

Why do I want it? 
So that if you need to look at your iPhone’s screen in the pitch-black night, it won’t blind you.

How do I set it up?
1. Go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Accessibility Shortcut (it’s at the bottom) 
2. Tap on Zoom
3. Go back to the main Accessibility page, and tap into Zoom (at the top) 
4. Toggle Zoom On 
5. Triple-tap on the screen with three fingers 
6. On the panel that appears, drag the zoom slider all the way to the left 
7. Tap Choose Filter
8. Tap Low Light
9. Tap away from the panel to dismiss it 
10. Scroll down and tap Zoom Region
11. Tap Full Screen Zoom

Now you can toggle the Low Light filter on and off by triple-pressing the home button.

Speech

What is it?
A way to have your phone dictate the text that’s on the screen to you. I only discovered this very recently, via M.G. Siegler’s article, but it opens up a lot of possibilities. Once set up, you can trigger it by swiping down from the top of the screen with two fingers.

Why do I want it?
There are a lot of situations where your eyes are occupied on something else, but you can listen. Or maybe you just really like the film Her, and want to pretend you’re in that. This feature really makes me want a pair of Airpods, I imagine it’s a perfect fit for them.

It’s especially great for articles, but you can also use it on most apps that contain text. I know what you’re thinking: ‘Great. Creepy robot voice serenading me.’ But there are a number of different voices to choose from, and the Alex one, in particular, sounds pretty natural. Downloading it will take up ~900mb though, so if space is at a premium on your phone you may want to try one of the others. The UK Siri Female (Enhanced) voice is actually clearer than Alex, but her unnatural cadence of speech makes it harder to follow what she’s saying.

How do I set it up?
1. Go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Speech 
2. Switch Speak Screen toggle to On 
3. Tap Highlight Content
4. Switch Highlight Content toggle to On, and choose whichever highlight options you’d prefer 
5. Go back to the main Speech section, and tap on Voices
6. Tap on English
7. Scroll to the bottom and tap the cloud symbol next to Alex
8. Once the download has finished, tap into the Alex section and tap on that option. You should see a check mark on the left side, indicating this voice is picked

Now, whenever you want some text on the screen dictated to you, swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers.

Reduce Motion

What is it?
An option to tone down the animations throughout iOS, and disable the parallax effect on the home/lock screens.

Why do I want it?
The benefits of this one are a bit more subjective. Personally, I find a lot of the animations in iOS — especially the ones for opening and closing apps — a bit too flashy. They’re almost ostentatious; it feels as if they’re making me wait for them, and slowing me down. It’s debatable whether turning on Reduce Motion actually makes the animations throughout the OS faster, but it feels faster to me. The reason this is an accessibility feature is that some of the animations, and the parallax effect on the home/lock screens, make some people feel nauseous.

How do I set it up?
1. Go to Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Reduce Motion 
2. Switch Reduce Motion toggle to On 
3. Switch Auto-play Message Effects toggle to On — we don’t want to miss those sent with lasers messages from our friends, now, do we?


This article was originally published on techfeels.com