New Accessibility Features in iOS 8

Tech Support on November 04 2014

With the roll-out of the new iOS 8, Apple has added three features to enhance accessibility. Naturally, these changes have excellent applications in the classroom for all students. Today we’ll take a look at the changes made to Guided Access, Zoom, and Speak Screen.

Guided Access Timer and Keyboard Access

We recommend guided access frequently here at Teq for teachers who want to restrict student’s access on their iOS device. iOS 8 adds two new options within guided access: the ability to turn off access to the keyboard and a timer. With the Guided Access timer, teachers can set parameters and decide when an app will stop responding. Students or teachers will need to enter a password in order to continue working with the app after a given amount of time.


By tapping twice with three fingers, a lens will appear to view your zoomed content. You can change the lens size and shape, apply a filter, and choose your level of zoom. The zoom can be a bit awkward to adjust to at first, but runs smoothly once you get used to it. If you don’t like moving around your zoom lens with the bar at the bottom, you can also choose to Show Controller which is an alternate way to move the lens around your screen, a bit like a joystick. I most like that you can set your preferences for zoom (e.g. size of lens, filter, zoom amount) and then these will be saved and every time you enter zoom your lens will have these customizations. Watch the video below to see how to edit preferences and use zoom seamlessly!

Speak Screen

The ability to have your device speak a selection has always been available; however, Apple has added a new feature to speak the entire screen. This new feature comes alongside a new voice, Alex. Alex needs to be downloaded, using 870 MB of storage but produces a more natural sounding voice. After turning on Speak Screen in your device’s Settings menu, swipe down with two fingers on the screen where you’d like to start the feature. I suggest having your two fingers slightly apart when swiping so as not to accidentally pull down the Notification Center. A menu will also pop up allowing you to control the speed of the voice, pause or fast-forward, and rewind. Since this feature will read the entire screen,including any ads on websites and HTML codes, it is advisable to put content like this in Read Only format. Speak Screen works particularly well when reading in iBooks as it will even turn the page and continue reading.