iPhone Visual Accessibility Features (Video Transcript)

iPhone Visual Accessibility Features


In this video I demonstrate some of the visual accessibility features that I use on my iPhone, including Zoom, Magnifier and Invert Colours.

My Disability Playlist

Also see the following blog posts I’ve made in the past:

Using My iPhone

iPhone Apps I Use

My Social Media:

My Blog

My Twitter

Thanks for watching! 🙂


Hi everybody. I thought for this video I’d show you some of the accessibility features that I use on my iPhone to make it easier for me to see what’s on the screen, in case they might be of use to you as well or you’re just curious.

So, under the Settings screen…

…if you look down, under General…

…you’ve then got a category called Accessibility.

And there are various bits and pieces in here that I use. I don’t use VoiceOver, that’s the facility that speaks through every menu option on the screen, so you know what you’re clicking on. I might have a little play with that and perhaps do a video on it later, but at the moment I don’t need to use it.

Zoom I have turned on. And it gives you instructions there for how to use it. So if you double-tap 3 fingers  on the screen, it will zoom in. And double-tap again to zoom out. When you’re zoomed in, you can drag 3 fingers to move round the screen. So if I zoom in again, and then hold 3 fingers down on the screen and just move them around, you can drag the screen around like that.

And then it says if you double-tap three fingers, and then drag, you can change the zoom. So if I double-tap, and then hold the fingers there, and move my fingers up and down, you can see it zooms right in. It goes in quite a long way as well, so it’s a really good facility that.

And there’s other options there, for Follow Focus and Smart Typing, which is explained on the screen. Smart Typing will switch to Window Zoom when a keyboard appears, and will move the Window so that text is zoomed but the keyboard is not. So you can still see the entire keyboard, but the text is zoomed in, so you can see that. Because obviously if the entire keyboard’s zoomed in, then you can’t see all the keys.

So you can also show the Controller, which I haven’t got turned on. But if you turn that on, it puts a little controller on the side of the screen, and then it will fade out so it’s not quite so prominent if you want it to. I’ll turn that off.

And then you can choose if the zoom takes up the whole screen, or if it’s just a window. So if I zoom in again, at the moment it’s zooming in the whole screen. If I change this option, and change that to Window Zoom, you will now see that it’s just a window. And the rest of the screen still looks alright.

And you can drag the bottom edge, there’s that little handle at the bottom of the zoom window. You can hold on to that and move the window up and down the screen. So you can see the whole screen, so you can look at what you’re about to zoom into, and then move it over like a hand-held magnifier really. So that’s quite handy. I’ll go to Full Screen Zoom, because I like that.

And if we go back…

The Zoom Filter as well, so the zoom can be Inverted, or in Greyscale, or Greyscale Inverted, or Low Light, whichever works for you.

And then you can set the Maximum Zoom Level as well, in case you don’t want it to go beyond a certain point. If you go right up to the maximum, it will go in quite a long way then. Yeah, I mean, that’s how far it will go. I mean, that’s really, really closely zoomed in, I don’t think anyone would have it quite that big, although some people might do. But I think for me that’s a little bit too much! So you can set the maximum zoom level, so you don’t get quite too far zoomed in. I’ll put that back to about 8, there you are.

So yeah, that’s a really useful feature for many people.

The Magnifier is another feature. Now this is a recent addition to the iOS system. Normally you could just use your Camera app if you wanted to, but the Magnifier enhances the Camera app really to help you read small things.

And what you do to use this, is you simply turn it on under Accessibility -> Magnifier. And then to activate it, you triple-click the Home button. Now when I do this, I get two options, because I’ve also Invert Colours set here, which I’ll get to in a minute.

But if I click on Magnifier, this will bring up the camera. Now this is a very simplified version of the Camera app if you like. So at the bottom of the screen you’ve got a slider, so you can use that to pull the zoom in and out. And in fact, I’ll use that to show you on a little booklet I’ve got here. I’ve got the terms and conditions for my phone, which you can see is ridiculously small print. But I can zoom right in on that. All the way in…

That’s better. It goes a really long way in, so that’s really, really good. And it will focus, there you are. And you can tell it to lock the focus by using that padlock at the bottom. When you’ve got a focus you’re happy with, you can click the lock and it will stop auto-adjusting then.

If you need a bit of light, then you press the little lightning icon, and that will turn your camera’s light on. So that can help if you’re trying to read something in the dark.

And then if you want to freeze a picture, you just click that big button at the bottom. This won’t take a photo, it won’t store it in your Camera Roll, but it will freeze the screen. So if you want to look at something in a bit more detail without your hand shaking or anything like that, then this will freeze the screen, and that’s really useful.

And then the 3 little blobs in the bottom right hand corner allow you to change other settings. So you’ve got the brightness…

…and the contrast…

…so you can change those levels to make it easier to see.

You can also change the way the colours are displayed. So there you’ve got white on blue…

…or yellow on blue…

…or greyscale…

…or yellow on black…

…or red on black. Which is really horrible for me, but for some people that might work out alright, depending on what you’re looking at.

Let’s put them all back…

And then you can flip the colours to inverted if you want to. So that will flip all the options to their inverted settings, so at the moment I’ve now got white on black, instead of black on white. And this is just tapping that little icon in the corner with the two arrows on it.

So then you get given inverted…

…oh, skipped one there…

…you’ve got blue on white…

…blue on yellow…

…inverted greyscale…

…black on yellow…

…and black on red. So you’ve got a lot options here for helping you read things much more easily.

So it’s a really useful, really useful app.

And the other thing I’ll say is, in terms of zoom, you don’t have to use that slider at the bottom. If you just use your finger on the actual image itself that you’re zooming in on, if you just move your finger up and down, and that will also zoom in and out. And you can use the pinch gesture as well if you’re used to using the pinch gesture for zooming into things, that will also work.

And then to come out of the app, to come out of the Magnifier, just tap the Home button again, and out you come. So that’s really, really useful, I’m really glad they added that in.

And then under Display Accommodations, back into Accessibility settings, we’ve got Invert Colours. So if I turn that on, that basically inverts all the colours to their opposites. So black becomes white, white becomes black.

So that’s really useful for me. I much prefer using the display in this way, because when you’ve got the standard view like this, the white’s really glary on my eyes. I can look at it for a little while, but after a short period of time it does get quite tiring, because my eyes have to focus on it much more heavily. So this is what I use for computer screens in general as well, I have inverted colours.

So if I turn that on, it’s a lot easier. But you can also have other colour filters as well. So you’ve got various colours you can choose from. Turn that option on, you can have greyscale, you can have red and green filters, green and red filters, and blue and yellow, or you can have a specific colour tint, if there’s a specific colour that you want.

So yeah, you can play around with it and just adjust all the colours to whatever you like. You can adjust the intensity of the effect. Certainly for some people, like those with dyslexia or something like that, they often find different colour paper is easier to read things on, and the same applies to screens I’m sure.

So yeah, it doesn’t really show up on the video recording. It does on my phone, I’m looking at my phone and the colours are changing, but when I change them here it doesn’t show up in the video. So obviously that’s not something Apple have implemented for these recordings. That doesn’t matter, just have a play with it. Like I say, all these options are worth playing with by regular sighted people, because a lot of these things might make the experience much easier for you in general. And then Reduce White Point again reduces the intensity of bright colours, and you can choose a slider for that. Again, that’s not showing up on the video, it is on my phone. So yeah, it is worth playing with all these things.

So yeah, if I turn Invert Colours on, then you’ll be able to see more generally my menu screen like that. So if I put it back to normal, there you go, you can see the difference there.

Obviously, when you do Invert Colours, it inverts everything, so even photos and videos come out inverted. Which is quite handy to have the triple Home click shortcut for, because you can then flip between the two nice and easily. So I just triple-click on the Home button, choose the option, and it comes back again.

Now there’s one app on here that I don’t have to use Inverted Colours for all the time, because they’ve got a little feature of their own built into it. And that’s Twitter.

Now, I like this feature I’ve found on here, because it makes it a lot easier for me to read, but also allows me to view pictures and things, like this Star Wars image here, without having to invert the colours myself.

So, if we go into my profile, if we click on the little gear icon at the top, next to my name. And you’ve got various settings here, but the second one down is called Turn On Night Mode. And if I turn on Night Mode, now you can see it’s put a dark background on everything, and made the text white.

Now this is presumably so the display is easier to read at night, because you don’t need a bright screen at night. It just makes the text stand out easier when you’re in a dark space. But for me, this is a hell of a lot easier, because the text just stands out to me much better in general anyway, but also means that all the images show up much better. So I can watch a video, or look at the pictures, and see people’s avatars and things like that, see their profile images, properly as they’re meant to, without having to change the colours necessarily.

Obviously if I go into an article that’s not the site, like that Evening Standard article there, I would then have to invert the colours, because obviously this is on a separate website, so again it’s on the standard white background, and I would invert the colours.

But on Twitter, I don’t necessarily have to do that. So that’s really, really handy.

A few other settings I’ve used in the Accessibility settings. I’ve got Larger Text turned on. And you can choose your preferred text size, right up to something really huge like that, or something really small. And if an app supports this dynamic text setting, it will use it. Not all apps do, but some apps do, so it’s useful to have turned on. And certainly all the Apple menus obey it.

And then Bold Text, it just emboldens the text as the name suggests. It just helps things to stand out. I’m not gonna demonstrate that, because you have to restart your iPhone, but it just makes the text stand out better.

Button Shapes will just make buttons stick out a bit better. I don’t have that turned on, I don’t really need it.

Increase Contrast, I’ve got these options turned on. I’ve got Reduce Transparency turned on, because that makes things stand out better. When you’ve got it turned on, it basically makes everything opaque. And again, Darken Colours, again a very subtle effect, but again it just makes that little bit of difference, just increases the contrast from background to text, just makes it that little bit easier.

And you can also have On/Off Labels for buttons, so you be absolutely sure when they’re on or off. I don’t need that.

Shake To Undo, that’s a handy option to have on actually, which some people might not know is there. If you’re typing something and you make a mistake, you can just shake your phone, and it will give you the option to Undo. It’s very, very handy.

And then you can turn the vibrations on your phone on and off, but that will also turn off vibrations for emergency alerts, if that happens in your area, so be a bit careful with that.

Then under the Home Button settings, you can choose how fast you need to click it, when you’re doing the double or triple clicks, you know. If you’re not that speedy at doing the triple-click or the double-click, you can slow it down so it gives you a bit more time to do it. And then you can Rest Finger to open your phone as well. So instead of tapping the phone to open it, you can just rest your finger on the Home button, and it will just open it with your fingerprint, if you’ve got that set up.

And then Reachability, as it says here, if you double-tap the Home button, it can bring the top of the screen into reach. I don’t have this turned on, but if you were to turn that on. Now when they say double-tap, you don’t click the Home button, you just literally just double-tap your finger on it. And it will just move the top of the screen down to the centre, as you can see there, so you can reach it more easily if you need to.

And then there’s various other options for hearing devices.

Accessibility Shortcuts down the bottom, this is where I’ve got my Home button shortcuts set up, that you see when I triple-click it.

Invert Colours and Magnifier are what I’ve got there now, but I could also add VoiceOver to it, I could do Colour Filters, Reduce White Point and Zoom, Switch Control and Assistive Touch, all that kind of thing. If you have just one of these options turned on, then triple-clicking the Home button will activate it automatically. If you’ve got multiple options turned on, then it’ll ask you which one you want to turn on.

Zoom I haven’t got turned on, because I can activate that with the 3 finger tap on the screen itself, so I don’t need an extra Home shortcut for it as well.

Under Media, there’s things like subtitles and captions and audio descriptions. Again, I haven’t got those turned on, because I don’t really watch things that need audio description on my phone, and I don’t need subtitles.

Oh, the Phone Noise Cancelling thing is worth mentioning as well, because my mother’s commented on this when I’ve rung her before. This will reduce any surrounding noise if you’re out and about and you make a phone call, the noise that surrounds you will get cancelled out. And this works extremely well, I’ve used this when ringing home from train stations and places like that, or anywhere crowded. It really does cut out pretty much all the noise around you, so that the other person on the end of the line can hear you much more clearly. Well worth turning that on, it may work well for the person you’re talking to, just so they can understand you better.

So yeah, dig through the Accessibility options. If they don’t make sense, Google them, look them up, or just try them out and see what happens. You can’t really break it. I know Apple doesn’t explain all these things to you, and their help files aren’t always great, but Google’s out there, there’s plenty of Youtube videos out there. So yeah, have a look through it all. There may well be something in here for you that’s useful, that you didn’t know about.

So yeah, that’s a little overview of some of the features I use. I haven’t gone into Speech yet, because I’ll probably do a separate video on that, but there are options in there for speaking the screen and speaking text. But I won’t go into that now, because I’ve spent long enough looking at the visual stuff.

So yeah, I hope you found that interesting. And, you know, as I say, if you go into Settings -> General -> Accessibility there are plenty of things there you can play with. So yeah, I hope you found it interesting, and I will probably do one or two more videos on the things I use on my iPhone and on my Mac as well. So yeah, I will see you again soon. Bye for now.

Author: Glen

Vsually impaired, with Aniridia & Nystagmus. I'm a fan of Doctor Who, classic sitcoms, Queen and 60s-80s rock & pop. I like to blog about my experiences as a disabled person, and about the things I enjoy in general.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s