Category Archives: iBooks

A small action with a big impact (Recipes for Switch Control)

Sometimes accessibility is about making small changes that bring about a big impact in people’s lives. Take the act of flipping the pages in a book. This is probably an action most of us take for granted.  For some people with motor challenges, though, the ability to flip the pages of a book is the difference between being able to enjoy a favorite book or being locked out of that experience.

In the past, the only way to accomplish this action (flipping the page of a book) was through the use of a cumbersome mechanical device. My friend and colleague Christopher Hills illustrates the use of such a device in a short YouTube video.

 

Description: As dramatic music plays, the video begins with the words “In the not too distant past…” then cuts to Christopher sitting in his powered wheelchair while a relative reads a book next to him. As Christopher looks on, his dad Garry brings in a large, industrial looking device that needs to be wheeled into the room. Garry proceeds to plug in the device and place a book on it. An external switch box has options for the various page flip actions. Christopher flips the pages of the book with this device, which uses a roller to turn the pages each time Christopher presses a head mounted switch that is connected to the external switch box. The video then cuts to “Now…”  and we see the same relative as in the opening scene sitting down at the kitchen table with his iPad, ready to read a book. With an over the shoulder shot, we see the relative turn the pages on his iPad as Christopher performs the same action next to him  by pressing a head mounted switch that is connected to his iPad via Switch Control.

With digital content and assistive technology, the cumbersome, mechanical device shown in Christopher’s video is no longer needed. Devices like the iPad now include built-in switch access (Switch Control) that can be combined with external switches to make flipping the pages of a book a much simpler task. In the embedded video, I demonstrate the use of Recipes to flip the pages of a book I created with the Book Creator app on my iPad. The book is I Am More Powerful Than You Think.

 

Want to learn more about Recipes and Switch Control?  You should check out a free book I co-authored with Christopher Hills – Handsfree: Mastering Switch Control on iOS . This interactive book has more than 20 closed captioned videos that go over every aspect of using Switch Control – from how to connect a switch interface to your iOS device, to how to control your Apple TV with a switch.

 

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Sneak Peek: New Ebook on Apple Accessibility Supports for Low Vision

Out of all the amazing accessibility features built into my Apple devices, the ones that are most meaningful to me are those that are intended for people with low vision. These are the features I use most frequently since I still have some vision left and I am not a full time VoiceOver user.

To share what I have learned about these features with the rest of the educational technology and assistive technology communities, I have authored a new multi-touch book: Supporting Students with Low Vision with Apple Technology. I had hoped to have the book available on the iBookstore in time for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, but with more than 25 videos that needed captioning it took longer than I expected. I am providing a sneak peek of a work in progress available for download from my Dropbox account. A word of caution: the file is 345 MB due to the videos.

Cover of Supporting Students with Low Vision Using Apple Technology

The book explores the concept of an ecosystems approach to accessibility which I discussed in my Global Accessibility Awareness Day post. It focuses not only on the accessibility features found throughout the Apple ecosystem (on iOS, Mac, Apple TV and even Apple Watch), a number of apps to designed to meet the needs of those with low vision, and techniques for creating more accessible content for low vision readers.

I hope you like this multi-touch book and I welcome any feedback related to it: things I missed, things that need to be clearer, any feedback you wish to provide. Here is the intro video I created for it with PowToon: