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AssistiveTouch Helps Disabled Use iPhones

AssistiveTouch's On-Screen Menu

Most of us who have developed a few hearing or eyesight problems in our old age are probably aware of all the wonderfully assistive features Apple offers on its devices. The company calls them Accessibility Features, and they’re there to compensate for diminishments in one’s sight or hearing by zooming in on text or reading what’s on the page.

Apple has truly outdone itself, however, with the new iOS 5, which comes with a disability-friendly feature called AssistiveTouch. This feature was created by Apple to help disabled users take advantage of the shortcuts it supplies to the general population.

For instance, as David Pogue of the New York Times points out, users can shake an iPhone to undo an action. They can also pinch and flick to zoom. However, all of these actions require motor control, something a senior suffering from arthritis or a variety of other diseases may not have.

After downloading iOS 5 and engaging the AssistiveTouch feature, a white circle will appear at the bottom of the smartphone that displays a variety of motion-controlled commands. These range from pushing the Home button to locking the screen and changing the volume. You can even create your own commands after discovering any limitations you may have with the iPad or iPhone through the Create New Gesture screen.

All of these commands would otherwise require the user to engage small buttons and switches, requiring fine motor skills. With AssistiveTouch, disabled users can carry out these tasks with a simple tap of their finger or even a stylus, which can be attached to many different assisted living devices.

To engage the Assistive Touch feature, first be sure that you have upgraded your system to iOS 5. Then tap on Settings, General and Accessibility.


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