Handy iPhone accessibility features you need to try

27 February 2017

If you’re an iPhone user, you’ll know there are some great functions and apps for easier everyday living. Here’s a list of five we like that can help you talk hands-free, magnify small text, understand what’s on the screen, keep track of friends and take great photos.

Talking hands-free

When you need to dial someone quickly or talk to someone hands-free, Siri is the go-to app.

Depending on your iPhone version, you may just need to say “Hey Siri” to activate the hands-free feature, or you may have to hold down the ‘home’ button.

Either way, once you’ve got Siri’s attention, simply say the telephone number you want to dial or the name of the person who is featured in your contact list, followed by the words “on speaker”. 

Once your phone connects the call, you’ll be in hands-free, loudspeaker mode automatically.

Here’s an example: “Hey Siri, call Vision Australia on speaker” or “Hey Siri, dial 1300 84 74 66 on speaker”.

Magnifying small text

Do you have trouble reading small print? Maybe you find yourself squinting to read labels on food items or handwritten messages. Your iPhone can help make this easier.   

Go into your iPhone’s ‘settings’, select the ‘accessibility’ panel, and choose the ‘magnifier’ option. This will turn the camera into an electronic video magnifier, allowing you to zoom in, change the colour of the view and take a snapshot for later investigation.

Hearing what’s on the screen

If you’re having trouble viewing the screen, your iPhone can tell you what it’s showing within any app you’re using.

Go into your ‘settings’, select the ‘accessibility/speech’ panel and turn on ‘speak screen’.  Simply swipe down from the top of the screen and it will read out what’s on the screen.

This is a great feature if your eyes are getting tired or if you’re in a bright environment and have difficulty seeing the screen.

Keeping track of friends

Do you want to know where your family members or friends are at a particular point in time? And, would you like them to know where you are, too?

The Find my Friends app certainly makes it easier to meet people for dinner or be picked up from work.

Find my Friends allows you to track other people, and for them to track you, on a temporary or permanent basis. You simply send a friend a request, wait for your friend to accept, and you can see at a glance where they are. Once you accept your friend’s request they can track you.

Taking perfect photos

If you have a vision impairment, one of the challenges of taking photos is knowing when everyone is in focus and in frame. 

Apple has solved this problem so you don’t end up taking a blurry photo or missing your subject entirely.

Before you use the Camera app to take a picture, make sure you have the inbuilt screen reader ‘VoiceOver’ on. The app will explain how many faces are in the frame, whether they are large or small, and where in the frame they are situated.

Vision Australia can help you with a range of accessible technology questions. Call us during working hours on 1300 84 74 66.