Accessibility isn’t one of those features people regard as “cool” in iOS, but that’s about to change. Come iOS 6 this fall, Accessibility will include new VoiceOver capabilities (integration with apps and services), and the awesome Guided Access, which lets you restrict certain functions of your iDevice to keep the user focused on a particular app, or a web page, or simply to prevent accidental commands when you're gaming.
Set to make its public debut this autumn (likely alongside an all-new iPhone), iOS 6 brings even more features that make it easy for people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities to use their iDevice.
“VoiceOver, the revolutionary screen reader for blind and low-vision users, is now integrated with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom,” says Apple.
The company has promised to introduce Made for iPhone hearing aids that will deliver a power-efficient, high-quality digital audio experience. In fact, the Cupertino giant is working with third-party manufacturers to craft these gadgets as you are reading these lines.
However, the biggest leap forward in terms of iOS accessibility has to be Guided Access.
Apple primarily designed Guided Access to help students with mental disabilities to remain on task and focused on content. Autistic students are probably the best example here.
“Building on Apple’s commitment to provide innovative solutions for education and accessibility, iOS 6 introduces Guided Access. This new feature allows a parent, teacher or administrator to disable hardware buttons to lock an iOS device into a single app, especially useful for test taking or helping someone with a disability stay focused on learning,” Apple explains.
“Guided Access also includes the ability to confine touch input to certain parts of the screen.”
As shown in the video demonstration below (courtesy of Michael Steeber from Cult of Mac), Guided Access can also aid gamers looking to restrict access to Notification Center, or the Home button. This way, gamers will no longer accidentally exit their game.
Currently in beta testing, iOS 6 will be available as a free software update for iPhone 4S, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, the third-gen iPad, iPad 2 and iPod touch (fourth generation) this fall.