Global Accessibility Day 2024 | Quick Conversations around Accessibility on iPad


Artwork featuring ten educators as their Memoji selves, waving on different coloured backgrounds.

To celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2024, I've been spending time learning about the many different accessibility tools built into iPads from the people who know them best - teachers.

That's right, for this series of videos, I'm thrilled to say that I've been speaking to nine Apple Distinguished Educators from all around the world to understand the different accessibility tools they use in their classrooms and the impact they have.

Each conversation is about ten minutes long and includes a short QuickTip video to help you use the features discussed on your own devices with your students. Some of these features may be familiar to you, some brand new. But I can promise you every single one of these conversations is filled with ideas, sparks and nuggets of inspiration that will have an impact in your classroom and beyond.

So, grab a coffee and join me as we dive into these nine fascinating Quick Conversations...

Using Dictation with Lyndsey Balfe

In this first conversation I sit down with Lyndsey Balfe, a digital lead at a one-to-one iPad school in Dublin, to discuss the powerful dictation feature on iPads.

Lyndsey shares her personal journey with dyslexia and how dictation on iPad has been life-changing, enabling her to overcome challenges throughout her life and career.

We explore how to easily enable this feature and its transformative impact on students, especially those with special educational needs and English as an additional language.

Lyndsey's inspiring stories highlight to me just how powerful dictation can be as a tool to foster confidence and equity of learning in the classroom.

Display Accommodations with Sophie Lamb

In this conversation I speak with Sophie Lamb about how display accommodations on the iPad can transform classroom learning.

Sophie explains the benefits of using features like bold text and colour filters, particularly for students with dyslexia and visual stress. These simple yet powerful tools make content more accessible, enhancing readability and reducing visual strain.

We also demonstrated how to enable these features and how to introduce them to your students, making it easy for anyone to personalise their iPad.

Guided Access with Emily Jones

In this Quick Conversation I'm joined by Emily Jones, to discuss the powerful Guided Access feature on the iPad.

Emily shares how this tool helps her manage classroom activities by locking students into specific apps and disabling parts of the screen, preventing distractions and promoting focused learning.

We explore how to enable Guided Access, set time limits, and customise settings to enhance classroom management.

Emily's insights into using this feature with younger learners and in various learning areas showcase its potential to transform the classroom environment.

Speech Controller with Christoffer Dithmer

In this Quick Conversation, I chat with Christoffer Dithmer - a teacher and Makerspace consultant from Copenhagen, about the Speak Screen feature on the iPad and how it can transform learning.

Christoffer explains how this tool, which reads the text on your screen aloud, supports students with dyslexia and those from non-Danish-speaking families, fostering independence and enhancing comprehension.

We walk through the simple steps to enable Speak Screen and the Speech Controller, making it accessible for classroom use.

Christoffer shares real-world examples of using this feature to create engaging, peer-to-peer storytelling activities and to ways make learning more inclusive and effective.


Background Sounds with Kelly Herbert

In this conversation I'm joined by Kelly Herbert, a Further Education teacher from the UK, to discuss the incredible Background Sounds feature on the iPad.

Kelly explains how this tool helps students, especially those with special educational needs, by providing calming sounds like white noise and rain to aid concentration and reduce anxiety.

We walk through how to easily enable and customise Background Sounds, highlighting its seamless integration without internet access or distractions.

Kelly shares her experiences using this feature in the classroom, helping students create a "bubble of calm" that improves focus and well-being.


Multiple Keyboards with Daniel Sundaram

In this Conversation I had the pleasure of speaking with Daniel Sundaram who shares insightful stories about how his students use virtual keyboards to enhance their language skills, including switching between multiple languages like Kannada, Hindi, and English.

He highlights the profound impact this technology has on students' learning and emotional engagement, particularly for those with visual impairments or diverse linguistic backgrounds.

Our discussion explores the practical steps for enabling multiple keyboards on iPads and looks at the broader educational and social benefits of this technology.


Voice Control with Kerry Abercrombie

In this conversation, I'm delighted to be joined by Kerry Abercrombie, a Curriculum Development Officer for Digital Learning at Falkirk Council, Scotland, to discuss the Voice Control feature on the iPad.

Kerry shares how Voice Control, which allows users to operate their iPads entirely with their voice, can be a game-changer for accessibility and productivity.

We delve into practical uses, from navigating pages hands-free to controlling the camera during filming, showcasing how versatile and integrated this tool is.

Kerry also highlights her innovative approach to "Lazy Girl Reading," demonstrating how Voice Control can enhance comfort and usability in everyday life.


Speak Selection with Kristine Østbye

In this conversation I'm joined by Kristine Østbye, a teacher from Norway, to explore the Speak Selection feature on the iPad.

Kristine shares how she uses this tool to enhance proofreading and proof-listening in her classroom, making it easier for students to catch errors and improve their writing.

We discuss the simple steps to enable this feature and its impact on both students and teachers - from helping dyslexic students to supporting language learners, 'Speak Selection' proves to be a versatile and invaluable tool.


Safari Reader with Haleema Mayat

In this final Quick Conversation I'm joined by Haleema Mayat and we discuss the benefits of Safari Reader Mode.

Haleema shares her expertise on how this feature strips away distracting elements from web pages, making text-focused browsing more accessible for students, especially those she teaches who are learning English as an additional language.

We also discussed practical applications for this tool, such as converting the webpage's text into PDF documents to use in the classroom as well as how this accessibility tool has an impact on enhancing students' focus and confidence.


Taking part in these nine conversations has been such a joy for me, getting to reconnect with friends and learn from the extraordinary things they're doing with technology in their classrooms. I think the common thread from all of these conversations is that technology is a tool to support teaching and learning by making it accessible and engaging for all learners. The accessibility tools on iPad help to break down barriers, support our pupils and help to foster a sense of empowerment and freedom to achieve.

I'd love to hear if any of these ideas resonated with you, or if there are other accessibility features you use in your classroom that have a real impact.

Please let me know in the comments below and let's get the conversation started!

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Posted on May 15, 2024

Cannot wait!

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