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iPod touch Accessibility Features for Mobility Impaired

Tactile Buttons & Voice Command Aid Users with Limited Manual Dexterity

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iPod touch Accessibility Features for Mobility Impaired

The 3.5-inch iPod touch screen requires no finger pressure, making it more accessible to users with impaired motor skills.

Apple, Inc.
Updated August 17, 2013

Apple's iPod touch has built-in features that help make it more accessible to users with mobility impairments and limited dexterity.

The iPod touch features a 3.5-inch touchscreen that requires no finger pressure to operate. Simply touching the screen is enough to make selections and execute commands.

iPod touch Buttons

The iPod touch has four tactile buttons:

  1. Sleep/Wake -- located at the top of the device
  2. Volume up -- located on the left side of the device
  3. Volume down -- located on the left side of the device
  4. Home -- concave button located at the bottom of the device.

The buttons are easy to feel and operate, provide tactile feedback, and, if need be, can be depressed using a stylus. Apple's Accessibility page lists iPod accessories.

In addition, the iPod nano features an easy-to-use 1.5-inch touchscreen that requires only a small amount of contact.

iTunes Supports OS X Accessibility Features

One of the most popular iPod touch apps is iTunes, which is usually synced with a music library stored on a Mac.

Mobility impaired users can thus leverage accessibility features built into Mac OS X that make it easy to operate iTunes from the keyboard. These include Sticky keys, Mouse keys, Slow keys -- all found in the Universal Access pane under System Preferences.

iTunes also supports most alternative input devices used to replace the mouse or keyboard.

iPod Voice Control

Voice Control is another feature that gives users with limited dexterity hands-free access to some iPod touch functions.

With Voice Control, users can ask iPod touch to play a specific album, artist, or playlist.

To use Voice Control, press and hold the "Home" button until the Voice Control screen appears and you hear a beep.

Speak clearly and use only iPod commands. These include: "Play artist..." "Shuffle," "Pause," and "Next song."

You can also initiate FaceTime calls with the Voice Control command, "FaceTime," followed by a contact's name.

AssistiveTouch for iPod 5.0

AssistiveTouch is a new feature available in the iPod touch 5.0 that enables users to activate onscreen controls with one finger, replacing gestures such as double-tapping, swiping, or pinching.

Reducing the need for these dexterous efforts can make using iPod touch easier for people with arthritis, cerebral palsy, and other physical limitations.

You can also use AssistiveTouch in conjunction with a compatible adaptive accessory such as a joystick.

Users can also create custom gestures by tracing onscreen patterns or movements with their fingers. These gestures can then be named, saved, and accessed from the AssistiveTouch menu.

To turn on AssistiveTouch:

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch.

You can also set "Triple-click Home" to turn AssistiveTouch on or off:

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > "Triple-click Home."

Using AssistiveTouch

To adjust the tracking speed:

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch > Touch speed.

To perform a flick or drag that uses 2, 3, 4, or 5 fingers:

  • Tap the menu button and then tap Gestures
  • Tap the number of fingers needed for the gesture
  • When the circles appear onscreen, flick or drag in the direction the gesture requires
  • When finished, tap the Menu button.

To perform a pinch gesture:

  • Tap the Menu button, tap Favorites, and then tap Pinch
  • When the pinch circles appear, touch anywhere onscreen to move the pinch circles
  • Drag the pinch circles to in or out to perform a gesture
  • When finished, tap the Menu button.

To create a custom gesture:

  • Tap the Menu button, tap Favorites, and then tap an empty gesture placeholder
  • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch > "Create custom gesture."

To lock or rotate the screen, adjust volume, or simulate shaking:

  • Tap the Menu button, then tap "Device."

To simulate pressing the Home button:

  • Tap the Menu button, then tap "Home."

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