Newsletter 2

20 January, 2011

In this issue

  1. iPad Accessibility
  2. Assistive Technology Rooms Relocation
  3. Stat of the week

iPad Accessibility

Apple products are normally pretty good when it comes to accessibility and the iPad is being labelled as the most accessible tablet computer yet.

The main components that appeal to users with low vision are:

  • The inclusion of Apple's VoiceOver screen reading program, which works with all of the iPad's built in applications and most downloadable apps
  • A Zoom feature, which allows up to 5 times magnification
  • A White on Black feature, which reverses all of the colors on the screen

Unfortunately the Zoom and VoiceOver programs cannot be used at the same time, which will be disappointing for some users.

Using the iPad with VoiceOver activated involves the use of a series of onscreen finger gestures. The UK's Royal National Institute for the Blind found that mastering VoiceOver gestures was not a simple process and required patience and practice.

Jacob Nielsen was more blunt in his assessment of the iPad, describing many of the gestures as cumbersome, difficult to remember and hard to replicate, especially those involving multi-finger gestures, such as the three fingered tap and drag used to zoom into a page and move around

In addition, the use of gestures and the overall weight of the device, can prove challenging for users with mobility impairments.

Despite these reservations, it must be said that the overwhelming response to the iPad from users with disabilities, has been very positive, even if there is a fair bit of new learning involved.

The iPad can also be good for kids with disabilities because it is one adaptive technology device that other kids at school can understand, thus reducing perceived differences between students.

A good starting point for finding out more is the iPad user guide, which can be downloaded from here
Unfortunately, the manual is only available in PDF, but it is accessible. It contains information about how to set up VoiceOver preferences and how to use finger gestures to issue commands.

The instructions in the manual can be tested using a gesture practice area within the iPad itself which can be accessed at Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > VoiceOver Practice. Note: VoiceOver needs to be turned on before the practice link will appear.

Staff who wish to find out more about how the iPad interacts with the web should contact Web Services (

Assistive Technology Rooms Relocation

Due to renovations of the Baillieu Library, the Assistive Technology Rooms will shortly be moving to the Eastern Resource Centre. Arrangements are being made to ensure that it can be accessed by wheelchair via the ramp from the Sidney Myer Asia Centre.

In my brief time at UoM I have discovered that each building has an alternative description involving the phrase 'used to be'. Although the new Assistive Technology area on ERC Level 1 is currently unoccupied, it used to be a staff room.

Stat of the week

  • 76% of UoM web site visitors use Windows
  • 22% use Macintosh
  • 1% use iPhone
  • 0.5% use iPad
    0.5% use Linux
  • 56% of mobile visitors to the UoM web site use an iPhone
  • 25% use an iPad
  • 7% use an Android
  • 5% use an iPod
  • 5% use a Symbian
  • 1% use a Blackberry

Previous Issues

Previous issues of the Web Accessibility Newsletter are available here.

Contact Andrew Normand, Web Accessibility Program Leader
Phone: +61 3 9035 4867