What features and benefits a tablet can offer? Come in to have a chat and learn an easy way to: set alarms, reminders, play music, read books, send emails, contact family & friends and more! 

There is some discussion about what reasons / features / functions a tablet has to offer to someone with visual impairment or sight loss, and can these devices offer many benefits over what is seen as more traditional ways to support someone. They can offer a little more independence, especially when used with a function such as Siri, which is like a little personal assistant.

Don’t forget you can come into the Wilberforce House to try our iPad / tablet / smartphone / desktop computer and see if this is a device you’d like to use. Contact us on 01904 760 037 or email 

Some easy to use features & reasons you may want to use a tablet

  • latest news
  • easily set reminders
  • set alarms or ‘wake me up in 8 hours’
  • find out what appointments you have in the day
  • information through Google
  • Weather Forecasts
  • Email
  • Travelling
  • Shopping

Using Spotlight Search for quick information

On the current versions of iOS you can do a simple swipe to the right and there is a search bar that also has suggestions below it, of contacts that you regularly want to call, text, email… as well as listing frequent apps and a feature called nearby. When you click the Nearby icon it offers nearby common requests such as lunch, coffee or shopping. Below that, there is news and top stories. This all works with VoiceOver enabled. For help with Search read our guide.

From the main screen of the device you drag right to have quick access to these features. The search field on this screen also has an icon in it to the right where you can voice your search to save typing.

The settings for this feature can be accessed by going to the settings app, then clicking General, and from there it’s four down, called Spotlight Search. In this area you can choose if you want Siri suggestions enabled, and also what apps you want to feature in the results. For example if you never want it to suggest contacts you can slide the tab to turn off the Contacts app.

Integrated Useful Apps

From the feature list made above of common and popular uses for tablets and smartphones, there are some apps already on your device that means you can jump straight into using it without having to download more. There are millions of apps though and there will be some that you do want to download and try, but this post covers some that are already included for you that you will potentially find useful.


The News app was added in iOS 9 which adds the new app to your home screen which can be accessed through the app as well as through the swipe right feature. If you go through the app the initial screen is the news selected for you based on what you have designated as your preferences in the second tab. This second tab, Favorites, is where you can select the news that you would typically like to read. As well as more generic categories such as Top News Stories etc.  You can also select Explore in the third tab if you want a more general look at the news sources and to add them to your favourites.


The Weather app is included on the device and works with VoiceOver so you can get information for the day done in hourly increments as well as the daily overview. You can also add locations to the app so that it is only a swipe away for the temperatures of the places you are interested in.


There is an app that comes with the device so that you can check your email, you will need to set up your email accounts through the settings app or on a computer, as long as you have an Apple account then this will typically sync across all your devices. This means that once it is set up, you should be able to access email accounts from all your devices without extra set up. i.e. on a mac computer / mac laptop / iPhone / iPad / Apple Watch.


There is a calculator on the iPhone but not one included on the iPad. It operates as a standard calculator and if you change the orientation to landscape then you have access to a scientific calculator for more complex calculations.


The camera is fantastic on the iPhone and has become a huge feature of the device and becoming the popular choice for trips and holidays away rather than bringing a separate camera. For users with a visual impairment it can provide alternative uses rather than just to take photos, such as magnifying text / items, and specialist apps that help identify items or through bar codes can determine what an item is.

You do also get access to some of the Apple suite of apps but they may need downloading and are not already installed on your device.


The Notes app works well with Siri to take notes that you’d like. You can have siri create them for you just by asking it to write a note. You can use VoiceOver or use speak selection to read the note.


can be used to store tickets but also to pay with scanning your phone at the shop till. This can be used with Apple Watch too so you could just swipe your wrist at the till and it would confirm payment with you rather than having to get money out.


making an apointment

Ask Siri to create an appointment, Siri will repeat to you what you’ve asked and note any overlap of appointments.

These are included and all perform certain functions that are a great use of the device but I’m mentioning them specifically as they integrate really well with Siri. This means that you can just dictate, “set my alarm for tomorrow morning at 7am” and it will set the alarm for you. Also you could say “make an appointment tomorrow at 10am with Jane”, and it will ask to create a calendar entry for you. It becomes so much quicker to enter in details using the voice service over typing. You can use Siri from any app or screen.

Other Various

Bonus uses of the device would be to use it to magnify letters / documents etc Magnifier – ways to view documents


Hardware: other things you can add to the tablet, more information to follow!

lenses / thermostats / connection in the home with lights etc. .. . . . .

swipe down today (widgets) can set up to access widgets – which has google i.e easy search, recipes, etc you can configure what is shown immediately

Advantages, additional information

The most essential advantage of tablets over common PCs seems to be the non-technical look and feel accompanied by the simple touch based navigation of the devices, which lowers the barrier to adopt the new technology.

Technology could be a way to enhance someone’s day to day tasks and make things a little easier. Often with technology, it is more the idea of it that seems scary or difficult rather than the reality of how it can become a helpful tool. We see that,

Some users showed an initial fear in using the tablet caused likely by a general high respect regarding the usage of new technology, but that feeling vanished during the first hours of usage, which helped them to explore new functionality on their own.

Most users stressed that the tablet is not intimidating to them since it does not look like a complex machine and particularly liked that it is possible to return to the (well known) main screen by simply pressing the only button on the device at any given time.

This study also points out that “40 minutes of initial training and setting up” was usually sufficient to get someone up and running on a device. There is then typically where possible a follow up of an hour to answer any questions or issues that may have arisen.

We believe that this is a good way for some to have additional independance so if you want to give it a try just let us know and we will help!

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