So what’s next for iOS? So What?!

iOS 6, the new operating system for iPad, iPod touch and iPhone due out later this year is rumoured to have many improvements, but what does this really mean for my students and clients who are using the iPad for communication and participation?

Here’s is just a few of the applications that I can see for the people we support:

  • Guided Access will allow you to circle the buttons you would like to disable in an app. If you don’t want your students to be able to get into the settings of an app, or search for a URL, it seems you can just circle these buttons or parts of the screen and prevent access. It would be nice also if, when in a switch accessible app, that those disabled buttons were then skipped while scanning too, in order to save valuable scan time – we will have to wait and try it out!
  • You can also put the device into single-app mode, which prevents the Home Button from exiting the app. This will allow people with complex communication needs to use the iPad similar to a “closed device”, dedicated to the communication app you have loaded. It will also allow you to lock a student into a certain task, or prevent them from using other features, such as Safari, during an assessment for example.
  • The Speak Selection feature, which is an accessibility feature found in general settings, which reads selected text in documents, books and webpages aloud, will now have word by word highlighting to give the student visual feedback and assist with word recognition and comprehension.
  • Voice over, another existing accessibility feature for people with low-vision or blindness, will now integrate with other features and apps such as Guided Access, AssistiveTouch, Zoom and Maps. This will have effects such as simplifying the voice over provided for unwanted parts of the screen, speaking aloud the custom gestures you can select to perform a movement and speak aloud turn-by-turn navigation.
  • Siri support (voice-driven personal assistant) will be available for the third generation iPad and will let you launch apps and post to Facebook and Twitter, a great way to stay connected, and probably a more efficient way for some people with physical impairments, given that they can use their speech generating device to post directly to these sites.
  • Custom vibrations will allow you to assign a different vibration to alert you to various notifications, ie. Incoming calls, mail, Facebook and Twitter notifications. Great for people with sensory impairments, or anyone with the device in their pocket!!
  • For those clients using the phone features who have difficulty answering calls with speech, you will be able to slide up on an incoming call and have the ability to send the caller a predetermined message by hitting one button.
  • An improved spotlight feature will now give you the ability to see the “filepath” or location of an app you have searched for using the spotlight feature. This way you will finally be able to see which folder your many apps are stored in, rather than just using the spotlight feature each time and never learning their location. Great for app addicts such as myself!

It’s so exciting to see these accessibility options improving all the time – I just can’t wait to see all of the new features in action in a few short months!

Update 7 September 2012 by DV: Only a few short days to go now!

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About Katie Lyon

Katie is a speech pathologist and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) consultant who has been working with young children and adults with complex communication needs for the past 13 years. She has had worked in various roles including Coordinator of the Non-electronic Communication Aid Scheme and Regional Communication Service in Victoria as part of the state-wide Communication Access Network. She has a keen interest in supporting families, teachers, direct support workers and therapists to access information about AAC and assistive technology through education and training. She currently works part-time with Spectronics and part-time with the Communication Resource Centre at Scope in Victoria.

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