With Assistive Touch, users can tap the onscreen controls with just one finger or a compatible pointer or stylus, and replicate gestures such as a pinch and swipe, or commands such as adjusting the volume and locking the screen orientation. Users can also create and name custom gestures by recording the individualised movement to perform specific movements. This means that users are able to accomplish many more tasks independently with the limited movements that they have.
It can be found under the Settings > General > Accessibility section of the iPad. Once turned ON, a small white dot will appear on your screen. This can be moved and docked anywhere on the screen.
When you select the white dot you get four options.
- You can select “Home” which acts like the home button and takes you to the home screen – also an alternative if your physical home button breaks.
- You can select “Device” which performs actions related to the device such as volume up/down, rotate screen, lock rotation and shake, which “shakes” the device without actually physically doing it. This is great for people who find manipulating the small switches on the side of the device difficult or if the device is mounted on a wheelchair and the buttons are inaccessible.
- You can select “Gestures” which gives you the option of two, three, four or five finger gestures. Once chosen, the same number of blue dots appears on the screen. You can then perform the multi-touch gestures using one finger or an assistive device such as a stylus. The device actually reads the gesture as a multi-finger gesture, even though only one finger is touching the screen. For example, if I want to swipe across to the previous app I had opened I would usually have to use a four-finger swipe. With assistive touch though, if I was using a head pointer for example, I could perform the same action with the head pointer only.
- You can select “Favourites” which will give you access to all of the custom gestures that you have programmed. For example, if you are wanting to perform the five finger pinch gesture which returns you to the home screen, you can record this gesture, name it and then perform it by selecting one button. Some apps will also require very specific gestures, and custom gestures can be recorded and selected to perform these actions.
The assistive touch feature came out about a year ago with the iOS 5 operating system. iOS 6 is due out in a few weeks, and with this, it is rumoured that there will be additional functionality to this feature, allowing voice over to work when in assistive touch mode. For more information about other rumoured features of iOS 6, see “So what’s next for iOS? So what?!”.
Assistive touch makes navigating and using iOS devices much easier for some of the children and adults we support with physical disabilities and limited mobility. Just another example of Apple’s commitment to making their devices accessible for all.