What accessibility settings on my devices can help my child with special needs?
Accessibility settings -- the features that let you customize a device for people with disabilities -- can change the life of a child with special needs. Typically found in your device's settings section, accessibility features are available on both iOS and Android devices. They can help kids with low vision, hearing difficulties, motor control issues, auditory-processing issues, expressive language disorder, nonverbal-communication issues, and attentional needs.
The accessibility settings on Android and iOS devices are different, but they're the same within each operating system (so your iPad and iPhone will match, for example). Check out each platform's options to figure out which ones work best for your kid. Here are some of the disabilities you may need to address and the key settings you can use:
- VoiceOver (iOS) and TalkBack (Android) narrate your kid's commands, providing auditory feedback for the actions he or she is performing on the device.
- Braille devices (both platforms) can be connected via Bluetooth.
- Invert colors (iOS) improves screen clarity with higher contrast.
- Zoom (iOS) and Magnification Gestures (Android) magnify anything on the screen.
- iOS and Android devices connect to hearing aids via Bluetooth.
Auditory Processing, Reading Comprehension, and Dyslexia
- Speak Selection (iOS) lets you change the rate of speech and highlights words.
- Dictation (iOS) translates speech to text and is a great tool for kids with dyslexia or other expressive language issues. The feature has auto-correct and auto-capitalization.
- Captions (Android) offers closed captioning in different modes (speech, text, and style) to suit your needs.
- Guided Access (iOS) and the restricted user profile (Android) temporarily limit access on the device to only one app at a time, helping kids with autism or other attention and sensory challenges stay focused on the task (or app) at hand. Kids can't change to another app unless you enter the password.
Vicki Windman contributed to this article.