Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Breaking Down the Barriers: Teaching the iPhone and iPad to Seniors with Vision Loss

a man seated on a couch, showing an iPad to a senior couple

An excerpt from the AFB webinar, "Teaching the iPhone and iPad to Seniors with Vision Loss," presented by Rachel Buchanan, CVRT, World Services for the Blind.

The iPhone and iPad can be great tools for seniors who are losing their vision. These iDevices, in the correct hands and with appropriate training, can really improve the quality of life for adults 55 and older.

It's not all roses, of course. There are going to be some barriers to teaching iDevices to seniors, but keep in mind that these are just barriers. They are not insurmountable. And there are always ways to get around them. Here's what you need to be prepared to encounter:

Motivation and Understanding

This is common with people who are older and don't have the lifelong exposure to technology that younger people do. Just think of it as, "they don't know what they don't know."

If you have a lack of understanding, you will sometimes, not always, have a lack of motivation. A senior may not know what that device can do for them, so they're not really motivated to learn it. When you're teaching adults, the information has to be directly applicable to their life. If it's not, then they're not going to have high motivation to learn. So it is important to introduce the device in a way that it is relevant to their life and will impact them in a positive way.

Ease of Motion in Hands and Fingers

This can be an issue. There are solutions, but they work differently for different individuals. If a person has hands that are often inflexible and they don't have a lot of flexibility in their wrists, or limited ability to move their fingers, they might have a problem interacting with the touchscreen. There are workarounds for that.

Cognitive or Memory Issues

You may notice a person struggling to understand conceptually what the device can do, or having trouble remembering even short sequences of commands. If they have trouble with memory and cognition issues, you want to seek out applications and commands that are simple. iDevices can do a lot of things at once, however it does take a little bit of cognitive know-how and memory to learn how to use them.

When iDevices are placed in the hands of seniors who can really use them, and when appropriate training is provided, these devices can dramatically improve the quality of life for consumers. And that's what we're here for.

services icon Directory of Services

book icon Featured Book

New! Orientation and Mobility Techniques, Second EditionNew! Orientation and Mobility Techniques, Second Edition

New! Orientation and Mobility Techniques, Second Edition

Join Our Mission

Help us expand our resources for people with vision loss.