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Strange as it may seem for a device that lacks a physical keyboard and pointing device, the iPad is quite accessible to those with disabilities. And it is because Apple is on the forefront of making devices that can be used by everyone. But the iPad's accessibility features aren't useful only to those with vision and hearing problems. Those without such issues can use some of these features as well. Let's take a look. The first obvious question is, if you can't see well, how can you possibly navigate the iPad in order to get to its accessibility features? And the answer is through iTunes on your computer.
If you have vision issues and are using a computer, it's likely you have it configured so that you can navigate around it, by using Apple's VoiceOver technology on your Mac, for example. So launch iTunes, select the iPad in iTunes's source list, and in the Summary pane, scroll down to the bottom and click Configure Universal Access. A window appears where you can switch on the Seeing and Hearing features, which I'll discuss shortly. For now, know that VoiceOver offers audible feedback when you touch your iPad, telling you what's happening on the interface.
Zoom does just that and zooms the interface. The Use white-on-black display, Speak Auto-text, Use mono audio, and Show closed captions when available are self-explanatory. Now let's switch on VoiceOver, click OK, and Continue, and move to the iPad. (VoiceOver: VoiceOver on. Landscape. Home button to the right. Calendar. Double-tap to open.) With VoiceOver engaged, you can now move about the iPad by touching the iPad and listening to spoken navigation commands like these.
(VoiceOver: Contacts. Double-tap Notes. Double-tap to open.) You can here that when I drag my finger across the iPad's display, it tells me what I've highlighted and how to open it. So let's now use VoiceOver to navigate to the Accessibility feature. What I'm going to do is drag my finger until I locate and highlight the Settings app, and then I'll launch Settings just by double-tapping somewhere on the screen. (VoiceOver: Notes, App Store, Settings. Double-tap to open.) So now I'm in the Settings window, and the General setting is highlighted.
Now, maybe I can't see that, so I will take my finger and move it around until I locate General. (VoiceOver: Location, Cellular Data, Brightness and Wall--, Picture Frame button selected, General) I'll double-tap. (VoiceOver: Selected. General.) And now I'm sure that I've selected the General setting. What I do now is tap somewhere in the General setting, so I've highlighted an item in there. (VoiceOver: Usage. Button.) Now I'll tap and drag with three fingers to scroll down the window. (VoiceOver: Row 7 to 18 of 18. General heading.) Now using my finger, I'll search out the Accessibility option.
(VoiceOver: Keyboard, International button. Accessibility. Accessibility button.) I found it, so all I'll have to do is double-tap on that to open it. (VoiceOver: Settings. VoiceOver on button.) And now I'm in the Accessibility area. What I'd like to do next is turn on Zoom, but before I do that, I want to turn off VoiceOver. So let's select it. (VoiceOver: VoiceOver on button.) Double-tap. (VoiceOver: Settings. VoiceOver on. Double-tap to toggle setting.) And I'll double-tap to turn off the toggle.
(VoiceOver: Alert. Important. Are you sure you want to disable VoiceOver? Okay button. VoiceOver off.) Using regular taps now, I can go back up the hierarchy by tapping the Accessibility button, and now I can go to Zoom, and I'll tap once on that. And to turn on Zoom, I just have to toggle. To zoom the screen, all I have to do now is double-tap with three fingers and then move around the screen, just take your three fingers and drag around.
To zoom back, double-tap again with three fingers, and there you have normal view. So let's go to the Home screen. I'll double-tap to zoom, drag three fingers to move. Now I can change the zoom level by double-tapping and then dragging down to make it smaller and then drag up to make it larger. So let's return to Settings, and let's take a look at some of the other Accessibility features. I'm going to switch off Zoom, tap Accessibility, and look at the other options.
Let's look at Large Text. Select that and you see that you can make text larger in Contacts, Mail, and Notes. So let's make 40-point text, for example. I'll go over to Notes. We'll take a look there, and you can see that the text is much larger than it is normally. Move back to Settings, and we'll turn that off so we have a regular-sized text. Back to Accessibility. White on Black is an option that you can turn on via the toggle switch, and you see that you get this very dark background with white text.
Now how is this useful? Well, people who have vision problems find this easier to read in some cases, but it can also be used by people who don't have vision problems. For example, if you like to read in bed at night and the person you're sleeping with really resents the fact that there's this really bright light in the background when you're reading a book, even though you can adjust the brightness on the thing, you may want to turn this on. The text is still very legible, but you don't have that bright shine coming out of the iPad as you would if you had the iPad set to its normal setting. So, switch on White on Black, and you may have a more compatible relationship.
Let's switch that off. Mono Audio takes a stereo audio signal and mixes it so both sides of the stereo mix can be heard from each side of an attached headphone. If you happened to have an old- fashioned mono earpiece, the kind that you're used to wear with maybe your transistor radio when you're listening to baseball games, you can use this option there, and we'll switch it off. And finally, there's Speak Auto-text. Personally, I find this really helpful because sometimes the iPad's Auto-correction is a little over-aggressive, and it will substitute words that I don't want.
The problem is that I don't always notice that it's doing that, and with this option on, however, the iPad will speak any auto-correction it makes, making it easier to notice, and if necessary, to correct. So we'll switch this on, we'll go to Notes, and I'll type something and hope it comes up with a correction. (VoiceOver: Artichoke.) There! And it finally offered the one I want, so I can just tap the spacebar and it will insert Artichoke, and back to Settings.
And last, there is the Triple-click Home button option. Tap it and you'll find that you can configure a triple-click of the Home button to perform one of the iPad's accessibility tricks. For my purposes, I found that Ask is the most helpful. Sometimes I want to use White on Black and other times Zoom. Choosing Ask allows me to choose on the fly which one to use. And that's our overview of accessibility and how everyone can find some use for it.
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