What’s new and different about iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus accessibility, especially as compared to older iPhones and older versions of iOS?
Accessibility for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can be divided into categories, I’ll cover them one at a time:
- Accessibility specific to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
- Accessibility available for recent iPhone handsets only
- Accessibility available for all iOS 8 users
- Accessibility available to all iPhone users
Accessibility specific to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
There are two accessibility features specific to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus. These aren’t available for any other handsets, no matter what version of iOS they are running:
Reachability brings things at the very top of the screen down closer to the bottom of the screen. If you have trouble reaching all the way to the top – for example when using the phone with one hand – Reachability can make things a lot easier to reach.
To activate reachability, you touch the home button twice without pressing it down. The reachability mode will stay active until you touch something on the screen, then it will go back to normal display mode.
If you want to cancel the reachability mode, you can either double-touch the home button again or just wait a few seconds and things will reset.
Display Zoom makes everything on the screen permanently a little larger without moving anything off the edge of the screen – perfect for those whose eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be!
The first time you set up your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you’re asked if you want to use standard or zoomed view, and you can always turn it on or off in the Settings app under the Display and Brightness section.
Accessibility available for recent iPhone handsets only
There are a few accessibility features which are not available to all iPhone users but only those with recent handsets.
Touch ID, fingerprint recognition on the home button, is only available on devices with a TouchID sensor – currently the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus. Using Touch ID enables users of these devices to unlock the device without needing to memorise a passcode, helpful for those who have problems with memory and helpful to users who experience significant slowness, pain, or fatigue using the device.
The high quality “Alex” text to speech voice which can be used with VoiceOver, Speak Selection, and Speak Screen functions is another accessibility feature only available to users of iOS 8 who have one of the following devices, or a newer one: iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and the iPhone 6 Plus; the iPad Air; iPad Mini with Retina Display.
Accessibility available for all iOS 8 users
All iPhone 6s arrive with iOS 8 preinstalled, so all of the accessibility features new to iOS 8 are available for iPhone 6 users. Those new accessibility features include:
- Built in braille 6-dot input for VoiceOver users
- New options for zooming
- Improvements for switch control
- New features for guided access
- Spoken announcements for maps
- New “Speak Screen” feature
- Availability of third-party keyboards and app extensions
- “Hey, Siri” handsfree mode available
- Greyscale mode available
In addition there are other features which are not accessibility specific but which will help accessibility and usability for many users. The Handoff and Continuity features – enabling you to start doing things on your mobile device and then switch to your Mac, or vice versa, are two of these features.
Accessibility available to all iPhone users
iOS accessibility includes features such as:
- Siri intelligent assistant
- Dictation so you can talk instead of typing
- VoiceOver screen reader for blind users
- Screen zooming, font adjustments, reverse video and other assistance for vision impaired users
- Braille display support for braille users
- Guided access and parental controls to help users keep on task
- Assistive Touch for those who can’t physically manage the home button or multi-finger gestures
- Switch access for switch users
- Closed captions for deaf users
- Made for iPhone hearing aids for hearing impaired users
There are many more – these are just the highlights!
There are of course many general features which are also helpful for disabled users. These include Safari Reader, predictive text and autocorrect, dictionary access, support for third-party keyboards, visual and vibrating alerts.
I am waiting for my iPhone 6 Plus to arrive as I write this, so stay tuned for more accessibility reporting!
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