Tips and guides

Exploring the Use of the iPad for Literacy Instruction

Find out more about accessibility settings for the iPad and other tips for using the iPad for literacy instruction with students who are blind or visually impaired.

This handout was used at my presentation at the Getting in Touch with Literacy conference on December 4, 2013.   It includes the following sections:

  • Must-Know General Settings
  • Accessibility:  VoiceOver
  • How to Make VoiceOver Read Using Finger Gestures
  • Refreshable Braille Displays
  • Built-in Apps
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Tips and Tricks for Students with Visual Impairments
  • Tips for Education
  • Building and Supporting Literacy:  Writing
  • My Favorite Accessories
  • Apps as a Resource
  • Great Online Resources

Visit the New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) Marketplace website to learn more!


Must-Know General Settings

Siri is a voice activated personal assistant that helps you complete tasks on your iDevice. The choice of male or female voice has been added to Siri’s features.

Text Size will allow you to increase or decrease the text size within Apple apps such as Notes, Mail, Messages, and Reminders, but not in Contacts or Calendar.



Voice Over is a screen reader. Adjustable speech rates and various dialects/languages are included. It can be supported by wireless braille displays
Zoom allows for screen magnification.
Invert Colors will change the color contrast of the screen.
Speak Selection is a built-in text to speech application. Adjustable speech rates and voices are included. If enabled, it will highlight as it reads.
Larger Type will increase even more than “Text Size” within General Settings.
Bold Text will make text bold and more legible.
Increase Contrast will make text more legible.
Reduce Motion will reduce the parallax effect on the iDevice screen.


Subtitles & Captioning can be provided when available.
Mono Audio allows the user to adjust the audio volume balance between earphone channels.


Guided Access limits the user to one app by disabling the Home button, as well as restricting touch input on certain areas of the screen.

Physical and Motor

AssistiveTouch lets you enter multi-touch gestures using one finger or a stylus.
Switch Control allows people with motor impairments to access all aspects of the iPad through the use of switches. Once this is turned on the iPad will automatically moves the cursor from one choice to the next until the individual presses the switch to select the desired option.

Some different methods for access are:

  • using an external Bluetooth switch
  • using the entire touch screen of the device as a switch
  • moving their head to the left and right (the front facing camera on the device watches your movement)

Home-click Speed can adjust the speed required to activate Double and Triple-click of the Home button.
Accessibility Shortcut – Triple-click the Home button for easy access to enabled Accessibility options.