CNN —  

Apple will celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 21 by highlighting its work to improve accessibility across its hardware, software and customer support, the company announced Thursday.

Among the initiatives is a series of YouTube videos that walk users through tasks like using Voice Control to send special message effects on the iPhone. An entire section of the Apple website is dedicated to accessibility features, and a section in the App Store showcases apps built with accessibility in mind.

Specifically, Apple is featuring apps like Speech Blurbs, a speech therapy app for kids, and Rogervoice, a free app that subtitles voice calls and allows you to talk back either by voice or typing. Voice Dream and The ASL App also make an appearance on the list.

The App Store also has a roundup of apps that Apple recommends for parents and kids who are transitioning to remote learning.

To help accessibility customers, Apple’s customer support team can answer questions or walk customers through accessibility features, questions and troubleshoot any issues. The customer support representatives speak English and Mandarin Chinese.

As for Apple TV+, the company’s subscription streaming service, it provides closed captioning in more than 40 languages and audio descriptions in nine languages. And this month, the Apple TV app will promote favorite films from actors with disabilities.

Additionally, with many Apple Stores closed due to Covid-19, Apple is offering Today at Apple at Home. These mini creative courses can help you get creative with Apple products and even learn a new skill. This week they rolled out a mini guide to using Clips. It’s taught by Gus from the Carnegie Library Apple Store who teaches with American Sign Language.

Below, we’ll walk you through using accessibility features such as Magnifier, LiveListen with AirPods, Voice Control and Assistive Touch.


One neat feature found under accessibility is Magnifier, which lets you use the main camera on your phone as a magnifying glass — well, a digital magnifying glass. This way you can clearly see labels or even read small text easier.

To enable this, head to Settings > Accessibility > Magnifier. Turn it on and triple tap the power button to start it.

You can even have iOS intelligently adjust the exposure for the best quality. With a triple-click, Magnifier opens and you have the option to adjust magnification, turn on a flash and even lock the focus. And you can snap a screenshot to save the magnified view.

Reduce Motion

Jacob Krol/CNN

Within Accessibility Settings on any iOS device you can reduce transitions and motion effects. Essentially instead of having the app swipe up to disappear it can be a smoother transition. This is handy for those who may be prone to vertigo, cognitive issue and even neuro disorders. The end result with this turned on, is viewing a system that can be less disorienting.

To turn this on open Settings, click into Accessibility and scroll to Motion. Once selected you’ll enter the Motion menu and can turn on Reduce Motion.

Live Listen with AirPods

While this is sometimes looked at more as a spy feature, it’s terrific for those who might have trouble hearing, especially in a loud space.

To activate, head to Accessibility in Settings and select Live Listen. You can even add it as a shortcut to the Control Center.

Simply pop in your AirPods or AirPods Pro, start Live Listen and lay your iPhone on the table. The sound picked up from your phone will be sent to your AirPods, allowing you to better hear and engage in the conversation. This could be handy in the classroom or at a keynote.

Captions on the Apple TV

If you’ve used an Apple TV for streaming a movie or an episode of a TV show, you likely know that captions are supported throughout. Apple also lets you customize captions to make an experience that works the best for you. Within in Settings on the Apple TV you can adjust the font, character size and even the opacity of the overlay. This way if it’s difficult to read the captions, you can adjust it to your liking.

Voice Control

This one is amazing and impressed us last fall when it arrived in macOS Catalina (it’s also supported on iOS). When it’s engaged, you can use your voice to do anything a mouse click or tap on a display can do.

When turned on, it will split your screen into a grid with numbers. So you can tell Siri to pick a spot, zoom in and click. You can even use dictation to write an email, search for a website, make a purchase on Amazon or respond to a text.

Assistive Touch

If you’ve ever had a broken Home button on your iPhone, iPad or iPod, you’ve likely used the on-screen Home button. These features fall under Assistive Touch, so head to Settings > Accessibility > Touch and then Assistive Touch to discover all the things that can be done here.

A digital home button appears as soon as you turn the setting on. It will be evident at first, and then will gradually gain more opacity.

A tap will expand and show you Notifications, Device, Control Center, Home, Gestures and Custom by default. You can also customize these and enable the features you need the most. This feature is designed to reduce the physical load for engaging with swipe-ups and other commands. It can even be taught to avoid accidental taps.

Reader View in Safari

Jacob Krol/CNN

It’s easy to get distracted on a web page, but Safari’s built-in reader view aims to help remove distractions. With the click of a button, Safari can extract the text of an article, essay or story and place it on a clean background. From there you also get full control over the size of the text. This way you can make it larger if need be, and reduce eyestrain. If you’re in Dark Mode, it will also place the text on a dark background. Better yet, this is built into Safari on the Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

We’ll add more features to this, but you can also discover many others under the accessibility settings on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac and even Apple TV. It’s important to note that these also work on the older, more affordable, devices.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.