iOS Accessibility: The hidden killer feature

I’d be willing to bet that most iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch owners have explored the settings menu fairly thoroughly. I’d also be willing to bet that most iOS device owners have skipped right over the Accessibility MenuAccessibility menu option. If it’s not something you need, you probably ignored it. Makes sense.

After reading this post and its associated links (which I recommend you read as well) from John Gruber’s Daring Fireball I thought I’d try playing around with some of the accessibility features that Apple has built into iOS. My mind has been blown…

If you have an iOS device around, I urge you to go Accessibility and turn on Voice Over. Then start using your device from the perspective of someone with reduced vision. It’s incredible! Turning on Voice Over changes the way you interact with the device. Tap once and you hear the button or word read to you. Tapping twice activates it. Every piece of the OS responds with an audio cue. It will read any text, including email and SMS messages with startling accuracy. It even tells you if the home button is the left or right when you turn the device to landscape orientation!

I won’t go into all the specifics of the accessibility features, you can read about them here

I find it fascinating that more hasn’t been made of these parts of iOS. Sure, they’re mentioned on Apple’s website and yes, we’ve seen how FaceTime can be used with sign language, but these built-in features are incredibly useful and (I would think) very empowering to those with reduced vision or other sensory challenges. 

Google’s Android mobile OS also has similar features baked in. It’s great to see these emerging platforms innovating with accessibility in mind.