One of the best things about Apple is its commitment to accessibility. For instance, Apple has made the iPhone usable for the visually impaired. But everyone
can benefit from accessibility features.
Enter Dark Mode
iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 introduce Dark Mode, which, as you can imagine, darkens the appearance of the user interface in the operating system and on supported
apps and websites.
—it can be a real eye saver in dark rooms. Here’s how to use it:
• Enable Dark Mode manually: You turn Dark Mode on and off in Settings > Display & Brightness or in Control Center (see
• Set a Dark Mode schedule: Turn on Automatic under Appearance in Settings > Display & Brightness to turn Dark Mode off during the day and on at night.
With Automatic turned off, you can change the schedule by tapping Options > Custom Schedule.
• Use Wallpapers with Dark Mode: iOS and iPadOS ship with wallpapers that change appearance automatically. Go to Settings > Wallpaper > Choose a New Wallpaper
> Stills and choose a wallpaper with the Dark Mode icon. You can also turn on Dark Appearance Dims Wallpaper in Settings > Wallpaper.
Work the Night Shift
that blue light, like that emitted from an iPhone’s screen, makes it harder to sleep at night. Night Shift reduces the amount of blue light. Here’s how
to use Night Shift:
• Enable Night Shift manually: You can go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift, but it’s far easier to trigger it from Control Center (see
). When enabled, Night Shift remains on until sunrise.
• Set a Night Shift schedule: You can set Night Shift to turn on at night in Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. The default schedule is from
sunset to sunrise, but you can change those to custom times.
• Adjust Night Shift: In Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift, you can adjust a slider to maker the effect more or less warm. The warmer the temperature,
the more yellow the screen appears.
Control Your Device By Voice
One of the coolest features in iOS and iPadOS 13 is Voice Control, which lets you completely control your device with your voice. Its grid-based system
is remarkably similar to the
Esper Machine from the movie Blade Runner
You can enable Voice Control in Settings > Accessibility > Voice Control. You can explore and alter the available commands in Settings > Accessibility
> Voice Control.
While Voice Control is enabled, simply speak a command to perform it. There’s no need to touch the screen or invoke Siri. Here are some useful commands
to get you started:
• Open app name : This opens the app you specify.
• Show names: This shows the names of every element on the screen that you can interact with.
• Show grid: This overlays a numbered grid on the screen. Narrow down the grid by saying the appropriate numbers until one of the numbered grid squares
is over the element you want to interact with). For example, on my 10.5-inch iPad Pro, to open the first app in my Dock, I’d say “Show grid.
9. Double-tap 7.”
Say “Show grid” to display a numbered grid that lets you select any onscreen element. Speak a number to refine the grid.
• Tap and double-tap number : While using the grid, you can say these commands to tap or double-tap the element in a numbered grid square.
These are just a handful of the many commands Voice Control has to offer. Also try “Show Control Center,” “Show Notification Center,” “Go Home,” “Zoom
In,” and “Pan Right.” There’s very little you can’t do with Voice Control.
Use a Mouse
Say what? Yes, although it’s; technically an accessibility feature, you can now use a mouse or other pointing device with your iPhone or iPad.
First, you’ll need to connect your mouse to your device. If it’s a USB mouse, you’ll need an adapter. If your device has a Lightning port, I recommend
. For USB-C, there’s a plethora of passable adapters on the market.
You can also use a Bluetooth mouse, though Apple says that a Magic Mouse or Magic Trackpad won’t work (your mileage may vary, I’ve heard conflicting user
reports). Put the mouse in pairing mode and pair it in Settings > Bluetooth.
Once the mouse is connected, go to Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch, and turn on AssistiveTouch. The mouse pointer will be different than
what you’re used to: instead of an arrow, it’s a circle with a dot in the middle. You can adjust the pointer size in Settings > Accessibility > Touch >
AssistiveTouch > Pointer Style.
Right-click displays the AssistiveTouch menu instead of the usual contextual menu that appears on desktop operating systems.
Tip: You can customize what the mouse buttons do in Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch > Devices > Device Name .
Accessibility for Everyone
Several accessibility settings are useful for almost anyone. You can find them in Settings > Accessibility:
• Magnifier: The Magnifier lets you use your device like a magnifying glass. Enable the setting and triple-press the Home button to activate it:
◦ Zoom: Use the slider to zoom in or out.
◦ Get more light: Tap the flash icon to turn the LED on (if available).
◦ Lock the focus: Tap the lock icon.
◦ Freeze the image: Tap the Take Picture button to grab a freeze frame. Tap the button a second time to unfreeze it.
◦ Adjust the color: Tap the filters icon to adjust display settings and access a range of color filters.
• Change text size: Tap Display & Text Size > Larger Text. Drag the slider to shrink or enlarge text. If you turn on the Larger Accessibility Sizes switch,
you can make text even larger.
• Bold Text: Many users have complained that the text in iOS is too light. To fix this, enable the Display & Text Size > Bold Text switch.
• Button Shapes: Tired of buttons that are ill-defined text labels? You can add a button outline by enabling Display & Text Size > Button Shapes.
• On/Off Labels: Do you have trouble telling whether setting switches are on or off? Turn on Display & Text Size > On/Off Labels. Disabled switches show
a 0 (zero), while enabled switches contain a 1 (the 1 looks like a vertical line).
• AssistiveTouch: Do you have an issue with a repetitive strain injury, arthritis, or perhaps a broken button on your device? Tap Touch > AssistiveTouch
and turn on AssistiveTouch to place a virtual button on your screen to simulate the Home button; bring up Notification Center, Siri, or Control Center;
emulate gestures like pinches; and many other things.
• Reduce Motion: iOS has a lot of neat animations, but they make some people physically ill and other people find them distracting. You can turn off extraneous
animations with the Motion > Reduce Motion switch.
• Disable Vibrations: You can disable all iPhone vibrations by toggling Touch > Vibration off.
Siri Can Announce Calls
Siri can announce a caller’s name or number when the phone rings.
Enable it in Settings > Phone > Announce Calls. You can set it to always announce calls, or only announce them when you’re wearing headphones or are in
iOS￼ accessibility for the Visually Impaired
A few of the options already described in this article might prove useful to those who have trouble seeing, but the choices noted here, all available in
Settings > General > Accessibility, should be especially helpful:
• Color Filters: iOS has several screen filters in Display & Text Size > Color Filters. Enable Color Filters and then choose an option. There are special
color filters for protanopia (insensitivity to red light), deuteranopia (insensitivity to green light), and tritanopia (insensitivity to blue light).
• Invert Colors: If you’re colorblind or having difficulty perceiving contrast, enabling Display & Text Size > Smart Invert may help.
Note: Invert Colors has two options: Classic Invert, which inverts everything on the screen; and Smart Invert, which leaves images alone.
• VoiceOver: You don’t have to see to be able to use iOS, thanks to VoiceOver, which reads individual screen elements to you. Enable it in VoiceOver. Turn
on the switch and configure its options.
Note: You can select one of many voices to use with VoiceOver in the Speech section.
If you are setting up VoiceOver because you need it, refer to Apple’s
page to get an idea of what VoiceOver can make possible.
With VoiceOver on, tap an element to have your device speak its name to you. Double-tap an element to activate it. Use three fingers to scroll.
Note: You can edit VoiceOver’s pronunciations in Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Speech > Pronunciations.
• Speak Screen: In addition to describing interface elements, iOS can read a screen of text if you enable Spoken Content > Speak Screen. To highlight text
as it’s spoken, turn on Highlight Content.
With Speak Screen on, swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to have iOS begin speaking. A Settings box appears to let you control playback
Tap the x to stop the talking and dismiss the box.
• Zoom: The Zoom virtual magnifying glass makes screen elements larger. Turn it on in Settings > Accessibility > Zoom.
Quick On, Quick Off
A triple-press of the Home button can turn an accessibility switch on or off. On devices without Home buttons it’s a triple-press of the Sleep/wake button.
To set this up, visit Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut. Select the options you want available through a triple-press. If you select more
than one, activating the shortcut brings up a menu.
iOS￼ accessibility for the Hard of Hearing and Deaf
iOS offers several accessibility features for the deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing impaired:
• Software RTT: iOS has long supported hardware teletypewriter devices for the hard of hearing, but iOS can place RTT calls without dedicated hardware.
Enable Software RTT in Settings > Accessibility > RTT and you’ll see an option to use RTT the next time you place a phone call.
• Hearing aids: You can connect your device to Made for iPhone hearing aids in Settings > Accessibility > Hearing Devices, and switch on Hearing Aid Compatibility
on that screen to reduce radio interference.
Hearing Aid Mode Tips
Hearing Aid Compatibility can reduce interference, but it can also hurt 2G cellular reception in GSM phones (like those on AT&T and T-Mobile networks).
For details on this and other tips, read the Apple article
• Indicator lights: On an iOS device with an LED camera flash, you can enable LED Flash for Alerts in Settings > Accessibility > Audio & Visual. When a
call or other notification arrives, the LED lights up briefly.
Other Accessibility Options
Here are a few accessibility features that didn’t fit elsewhere:
• Auto-answer calls: iOS can automatically answer calls. Visit Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Call Audio Routing > Auto-Answer Calls and turn on Auto-Answer
Calls. After enabling it, you can adjust how long iOS waits before automatically answering the call.
• Disable Shake to Undo: Are you always triggering the Shake to Undo functionality accidentally? Turn it off in Settings > Accessibility > Shake to Undo.
• Guided Access: To lock a device into a single app—so the user (like a young child) can’t exit that app—tap Settings > Accessibility > Guided Access.
There’s also a Control Center button to enable it—see
• Subtitles: You can turn on subtitles in supported apps by tapping Settings > Accessibility > Subtitles & Captioning and then enabling Closed Captions
• Switch Control: One of the more interesting settings in Settings > General > Accessibility is Switch Control, which lets you navigate your device by
tilting your head in view of the front-facing camera, with an external Bluetooth switch or by tapping the screen. See the Apple article
• Touch Accommodations: If a motor impairment makes using a touchscreen difficult, check out Settings > Accessibility > Touch > Touch Accommodations to
tweak how the screen responds to touch.