How accessible are Apple’s devices for people who are deafblind?

Steven with a man who is discussing an iPad
Steven discussing his iPad at a Sense technology workshop

For many people who are deafblind, smartphones and tablets can offer a lot in terms of accessibility features. Whether it’s a screen reader like Voiceover on an Apple iPhone, or an iPad or Talkback on Android models, it’s great to see that manufacturers are considering accessibility at the heart of what they do.

That said, the vast array of features can be bewildering. As an Apple user, I make use of several online resources to help me get the best from my devices.

Apple launched an online portal in October 2016 to inform people about accessibility features in its products. The new portal was announced at the company’s ‘Apple October’ event, and allows users to explore and learn about different accessibility functions (based on differing impairments and needs) across a range of products, including iPhone, iPad, Apple watch and Mac computers.

Community-led resources

Long term users of Apple products may have heard of the excellent AppleVis, an online community-led website offering a range of resources to support blind and low vision users of Apple products.

There is a lively forum which I use regularly to get advice and suggestions when I run in to any trouble with my iPhone. The forum is split into sections, for example focusing on the Apple watch, and even a section for those of us who link Braille Displays with Apple products. If you’re unsure of anything, the AppleVis forum is a great place to seek assistance.

As a blind user, one of the biggest frustrations of using an Apple product is wondering whether a particular app is accessible or not. AppleVis has an app directory which enables its users to share and recommend accessible apps. You can look at newly added apps, sort the apps into categories, or sort them alphabetically. When looking at a new app, I always have a quick check of AppleVis to see what other users are saying about it.

Getting assistance in store

Selected Apple stores across the country are now offering workshops with a focus on accessibility. They are run by friendly staff who are able to answer your queries about how to make the most out of your Apple device in relation to having a single or multi-sensory impairment. To find out more about what’s going on in your area, contact your local Apple store to find out if they’re running accessibility workshops.


As part of the Online Today project, an accessibility workshop is taking place at the Apple store in Leicester on Thursday 16 February. This is the second workshop out of a series of three, and aimed particularly towards those under 18. Please get in touch with the Online Today project officer Jessica on technology@sense.org.uk if you are interested in attending.

Steven Morris

Author: Steven Morris

Digital Champions Coordinator, Online Today project

5 thoughts on “How accessible are Apple’s devices for people who are deafblind?”

  1. Hello Steven
    I was so pleased to see your name on this blog. I have often wondered how things have been for you. So nice to see you in this role. Best wishes Sue

  2. How accessible Apple devices are..?

    When I first bought a Apple iPhone 4 many years ago, it WAS very accessible visually.. Fonts are bold and clear. I can do almost everything on it including calendar/diary, notes, texting and calculator. I love my phone so much, I did not do an upgrade or choosing for a different phone.

    That is until, last year, I accidentally press a button resulting upgrading the operating system. I sat there in horror watching my phone going through an upgrade.

    When the upgrade completed, The look, the feel and the design had tranformed my groovy phone into a useless little brick. The fonts went all spidery thin, white font against the pale grey background. The calendar/diary is hard to read. I could not use the calculator as the numbers and buttons are too thin to read.

    Texting is now hard to read. Old system, it is yellow background black font. Now blue or green background with white font.. What is the hell is that?! If someone response “yes I agree ” I could not remember what I have written ! I could not see my own text..

    I was crushed

    I went to the local apple shop asking to reverse my phone back to the old system. They said they can’t. it was designed to be non reversible. Surely, one would have a look and if they don’t like it, they can take it back.. that should apply to the phone as well??

    Now.. I am stuck with the most useless phone…

    Are Apple devices accessible ?. No, Not for deaf and blind person unless I am proved wrong.

    1. Dear John.

      Many thanks for your comments on the blog and I’m really sorry to read about the problems you’ve been having with your IPhone following an upgrade to the software.

      I’d like to be able to look in to this for you if that would be helpful to see if there is anything that can be done.

      As a starting point, have you experimented with the various settings within the ‘Accessibility’ tab within settings? There are various options available there to enable you to magnify text on the screen or to zoom in as well as changing the background on the screen. You may have already tried these out but I just wanted to mention it in case.

      You can find these settings by going to:
      Settings:General:Accessibility.
      If you’d like, you can email me at steven.morris@sense.org.uk and I’ll be more than happy to help if I can.
      Alternatively, I talk in the blog about AppleVis community who have helped me out with various accessibility issues I’ve had with my phone in the past and its always worth asking them for any suggestions.

      Once again, many thanks for engaging with the blog.

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