Every year, Apple puts out a new version of their iOS – the operating system for the iPad and iPhone – with new features and capabilities. In the latest iOS 10, there are some exciting enhancements to the accessibility features to help people with language problems like aphasia. If you’re using an iOS 10 compatible device, or helping a loved one or client communicate better using technology, try these out:

iOS 10 Features for Aphasia

1) Typing Feedback

Now you can hear each letter as you type it on the keyboard, then hear each word after you write it. This feature can help those who have trouble with self-monitoring or reading what they’ve written. Easily-distracted typers may just want to hear the word, while those with dexterity or vision issues may benefit from feedback on each keystroke.

To Activate Typing Feedback

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Touch General.
  3. Touch Accessibility.>
  4. Within the Vision group, touch Speech.Lots of Options for Speech in iOS 10
  5. Touch Typing FeedbackTyping Feedback in iOS 10
  6. Turn on Characters and/or Speak Words.
  7. Press the round Home button on the device’s frame to return to the main screen.

To Use Typing Feedback

If you turned on Characters, you will hear the letters you press when you enter any text using the keyboard. If you selected Speak Words, you’ll hear the word you entered once you hit the spacebar or select a predicted word.

FYI: Character Hints is an option that says the NATO phonetic alphabet name after each letter (e.g. T = Tango). This may be helpful for those who are hard of hearing, but is unlikely to be useful for those with aphasia.

2) More Voices

In iOS 10 you can use a variety of male and female voices for the automated text-to-speech. This is useful for people who use text-to-speech as a means of communicating to others and want the voice to better reflect their own. For those who rely on Speak Selection to hear written text, higher-quality voices may be easier to understand or more pleasant to listen to.

To Choose New Voices

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Touch General.
  3. Touch Accessibility.
  4. Within the Vision group, touch Speech.
  5. Touch Voices.
  6. Scroll to your variety of English and touch a voice. Preview it by pressing the Play button, or download the enhanced voices from the cloud. More Voices in iOS 10
  7. Select the name of the voice you want to use.
  8. Press the round Home button on the device’s frame to return to the main screen.

To Use New Voices

When you use apps that support text-to-speech, you will hear the new voice. If you use any of the Voiceover features, the selected voice will also be used.

If you download a voice you end up not liking (they do take up a lot of space), you can delete it by swiping to the left across the voice name, and pressing delete.

You can use the new voices in Advanced Comprehension Therapy & Number Therapy too! Practice understanding male and female voices during therapy or find the one that’s easiest to listen to.

3) Send Handwritten Notes in Messages

We’ve previously recommended third-party keyboards that let you send drawings or handwritten SMS messages. Now there’s a sketchpad built into Apple’s keyboard in the Messages app in iOS 10. This is great for those who can’t type as well as they can write, but it still won’t recognize the handwriting, and it’s not available in other apps.

To Access Drawing in Messages

  1. Open the Messages app.
  2. Touch the message entry area to bring up the keyboard.
  3. iPad: Touch the squiggle button in the lower right corner of the keyboard.
    iPhone: Turn your iPhone sideways into landscape mode. Touch the squiggle button to see the drawing canvas if it doesn’t automatically appear. Squiggle button on the keyboard in iOS 10
  4. Draw or write with your finger. customdrawing
  5. Touch Done.
  6. Hit Send (up arrow).

You can access stock messages or recently sent ones. This can be an easy way to store common messages to make sending easier.

Recent and Stock Messages on iOS 10

4) Add More Emojis

There are now more and bigger emojis in iOS 10. The keyboard will also suggest an emoji when one matches the word you type. This is a very easy way to add visual support to text messages, Facebook posts, and emails for people with language problems.

To Add Emojis

  1. Bring up the keyboard in the app you’re using.
  2. Type your message. If you type a word that matches an emoji, it will appear on the prediction bar. Predicted Emojis on iOS 10
  3. Touch the predicted emoji after you enter the word. If you touch it while typing, the emoji will replace the word completely.
  4. If you want to add an emoji that doesn’t appear in the prediction bar, bring up the emoji keyboard by pressing the globe or smile key.

You’ll need to have predictive text turned on for this to work. Here’s more information about this feature.

Not sure what a particular emoji is used for? Look it up in the Emojipedia!

 5) Correct Pronunciation

If you’re using Siri or text-to-speech a lot, you may find there are words you use regularly that the device always says wrong. This can be very distracting for people who already have trouble understanding. Whether it’s a name, an abbreviation, or a whole phrase, you can teach your iOS 10 device to say it correctly.

To Access Pronunciation

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Touch General.
  3. Touch Accessibility.
  4. Within the Vision group, touch Speech.
  5. Touch Pronunciations.
  6. Touch the + button. Pronunciations on iOS 10
  7. Enter the word or phrase you want to correct.
  8. Type or dictate how it should sound.
  9. Pick the IPA (international phonetic alphabet) transcription that best matches if you’re given options.
  10. Press the round Home button on the device’s frame to return to the main screen.

Now when the device reads this word or phrase aloud, it will say it the way you taught it to.

Need to brush up on your IPA skills? Play Soundable or use Speech FlipBook.

Bonus iOS 10 Feature: Read Your Voicemails

If your phone carrier supports visual voicemail, you can read transcripts of your messages on your phone. This is great for people who have trouble understanding detailed instructions or numbers when spoken quickly. It’s not perfect, and not available everywhere yet, but you can click here to learn how it works.


Read about more helpful built-in features on iOS including Speak Selection and Dictation.