Format Accessibility Settings for Those with Special Needs 

 By Tracey Dowdy

Accessibility is the intentional design of products, services, or an environment to make accommodations and allowances for individuals with disabilities. When it comes to technology, accessibility is all about making devices work for as broad a range of people as possible.

Your phone, laptop or tablet, no matter the operating system, is designed with accessibility in mind. Each device’s accessibility settings can change the life of a child with special needs. Those with limited vision, hearing difficulties, struggles with motor skills, nonverbal-communication issues, attentional needs, and language disorders can all have their quality of life and communication improved through utilizing the accessibility settings on phones, laptops, and tablets.

Though the accessibility settings on Android and Apple products are different, they are consistent within each platform. So, the settings on your iPad will be in the same location and follow the same formatting as your Macbook or iPhone.

Here are some of the settings you can utilize to help your child make the most of their devices.

Auditory Processing, Reading Comprehension, and Dyslexia

  • You can modify the rate of speech and highlight words through Speak Selection (iOS)
  • Dictation (iOS) translates spoken words to text and is particularly useful for children with dyslexia or other expressive language issues. It even includes auto-correct and auto-capitalization.
  • Similarly, Captions (Android) offers closed captioning in different modes (speech, text, and style), customizable to specific needs.


  • Zoom (iOS) and Magnification Gestures (Android) magnify both images and text on the screen.
  • Apple devices allow you to invert colors to increase contrast levels and clarity.
  • Both Android and iOS can be connected to Braille devices via Bluetooth
  • Both VoiceOver (iOS) and TalkBack (Android) allow your child to dictate commands and provide auditory feedback. VoiceOver enables the screen to be read aloud, including any buttons, icons, links, or other interface elements and will allow them to use gestures to navigate and select options. As your child drags his or her finger across the screen, TalkBack announces any icons, buttons, or other items that they touch. When they touch an item they’d like to select, they simply double-tap anywhere on the screen to choose the focused item.


  • You can connect your iOS and Android devices to hearing aids via Bluetooth.

Autism or Attention-related disabilities

  • Guided Access (iOS) and Restricted User Profile (Android) can be used to temporarily limit access to one app at a time, so individuals with focus, attention, or sensory challenges can focus concentrate on the task in front of them. Access to other apps is blocked until you disable Guided Access or Restricted User Profile by entering a password.

 Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


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