Inbuilt accessibility features of iOS devices to support literacy
The iPad is really the perfect personalised device for most learning situations. Many schools run a 1:1 iPad program or a BYOD program already. The features of iOS allow support for learning to happen in mainstream environments with a mainstream device.
If spelling and reading are challenging because of a learning disorder or a cognitive disability, these features may be useful.
- Speak Selection lets you select sections of text or particular words by tapping and holding down on the screen in any app the text you want read aloud. A box pops up which gives you the option to copy, define or speak that selection.
- Speak Screen allows you to swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to hear the contents of that screen spoken. A little box appears here too giving options to pause, fast forward or rewind, to speed up or slow down the rate of speech.
- Dictation is possible by simply tapping the microphone picture on the keyboard and speaking. You can give commands like New Paragraph. Tap Done when you are finished dictating.
- Predictive Text provides suggestions of words that you might want to type, lets you listen to them and choose the one you want.
- Typing feedback speaks aloud each letter or word typed so you can check aurally whether your selection was correct.
- Dictionary is built in and easy to access.
- Safari Reader removes distractions on the screen and can be used with Speak Selection and VoiceOver to hear what is written.
- Siri can perform searches and read results for you, allowing you to access information even when spelling and reading are challenging
Inbuilt accessibility features of iOS devices to support executive function
Guided access allows parents, therapists and teachers to restrict the device to one app for a set period of time, reducing the likelihood of the user being distracted by other apps.
Apps can be organised into folders and the folders renamed to assist in easier navigation around the device.
Inbuilt accessibility features of Mac OS devices
MacBooks and iMacs also include most of the literacy support features listed above. The Parental Controls setting allows for a Simple Finder to be created, making navigation around the device easier.
Apps to support writing
- Speech to text: Dragon, Voice Dream Writer
- Text prediction: Read & Write for iPad, iReadWrite. Note that an onscreen keyboard is used for most.
- Filling in Forms: SnapType, Adobe Acrobat Reader, iAnnotate
Apps to support reading
- Voice Dream Reader
- Vision Australia library (available to anyone with a print disability which includes learning disorders such as dyslexia)
Apps with Optical Character Recognition
Apps to support early literacy
Click here for a blog post by our education consultant, Jacqui, on apps for early literacy and fine motor control.
Apps to support people with autism
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) – e.g. Proloquo2Go
- Social skills – Between the Lines, Rainbow of Emotions
- Self regulation – FeelingOmeter
- Scheduling/Social Stories – Pictello Video Scheduler, Can Plan, Book Creator, Explain Everything
Consult Bronwyn Sutton’s excellent guide on choosing apps to support people with autism.