If you are blind or have low vision, a variety of assistive technologies in macOS — a built‑in screen reader, screen and cursor magnification, and Dictation — help you get the most out of your Mac.
VoiceOver is the remarkable screen reader that comes standard with every Mac. But it’s much more than a text‑to‑speech tool. It tells you exactly what’s happening on your Mac, and lets you fully interact with it using gestures, a keyboard, or a braille display.
Learn more about VoiceOver
Siri, the intelligent assistant from Apple, is now available in macOS to help you do more with your desktop. Ask Siri to send messages, track down files, create reminders, search the web, and even turn on and off VoiceOver and Invert Colors, without interfering with what you’re doing on the keyboard. And because Siri is integrated with VoiceOver, you can ask to find a file and hear the answer read out loud.1
If you’re affected by the motion of screen elements, you can turn on Reduce Motion to decrease movement in areas such as Spaces and Notification Center.
Zoom is a powerful built‑in magnifier that lets you enlarge your screen up to 20 times, so you can better see what’s on the display. You can use it full screen or picture‑in‑picture, allowing you to see the zoomed area in a separate window while keeping the rest of the screen at its native size. The hardware acceleration engine lets you boost the size of everything on your screen — text on a web page, family photos, a place on a map.
Dictation lets you talk where you would type — and it now works in over 40 languages. So you can reply to an email, search the web, or write a report using just your voice. Navigate to any text field, activate Dictation, then say what you want to write. Dictation converts your words into text. macOS also comes with more than 50 editing and formatting commands. So you can turn on Dictation and tell your Mac to bold a paragraph, delete a sentence, or replace a word. You can also use Automator workflows to create your own Dictation commands.
If a higher contrast or a lack of color helps you better see what’s on your display, macOS lets you invert colors or enable grayscale onscreen. Once you set your preferences, they apply systemwide, so you get the same view in every app. You can also turn on Increase Contrast to enhance definition and reduce transparency in some apps.
macOS lets you magnify your cursor so it’s easier to see where you are and follow along as you move around your Mac. Set the cursor size once and it stays magnified even when its shape changes. And when you swipe back and forth on your trackpad or quickly shake your mouse, the pointer grows so it’s easier to locate.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you’ll find many things to love on a Mac. Communicate easily with friends and family with FaceTime and iMessage, and use captions to watch your favorite content.
FaceTime video calls let you communicate in more ways than one. Catch every gesture and facial expression — from raised eyebrow to ear-to-ear smile. Thanks to its high-quality video and fast frame rate, FaceTime is ideal for people who communicate using sign language. And because Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch all come equipped with FaceTime, you can talk to iOS and macOS users across the street or across the globe. As if you’re face to face.2
Think of it as a visual beep. Instead of playing an alert sound, your Mac can flash its screen when an app needs your attention. Screen Flash automatically works with every app that uses the system beep. So there’s nothing more for you to do once you set it up.
When you’re using headphones, you may miss some audio if you’re deaf or hard of hearing in one ear. That’s because stereo recordings usually have distinct left- and right‑channel audio tracks. macOS can help by playing both audio channels in both ears, and letting you adjust the balance for greater volume in either ear, so you won’t miss a single note of a concerto or word of an audiobook.
If you have difficulties using the keyboard, mouse, or trackpad, macOS technologies like Switch Control can help you access your Mac like never before. You can even control elements of your computer by speaking. The features are easy to access and work across a range of apps.
Switch Control with Platform Switching
Switch Control is a powerful accessibility technology for anyone with significantly limited physical and motor skills. Built directly into macOS, it gives you the ability to navigate onscreen keyboards, menus, and the Dock using a system commonly referred to as scanning. Create your own custom panels and keyboards, systemwide or app by app, to provide you with the most efficient access to your Mac. You can use a variety of adaptive devices such as a switch, a joystick, a keyboard space bar, or even a single tap on the Multi-Touch trackpad for easy control. And now with Platform Switching, you can control your Mac directly from your iPhone or iPad, without having to set up your switches on each new device.3New
Dwell Control is a new feature of macOS that allows people who use head- or eye‑tracking hardware to move the cursor and select or drag onscreen items. When the cursor dwells on a certain location, like an app icon in the Dock or a link on a web page, a timer appears. Once the timer expires, it prompts a mouse click or other customizable action.
Siri, the intelligent assistant from Apple, is now available in macOS to help you do more with your desktop. Siri can search the web, send messages, locate documents, create reminders, and even turn on and off various accessibility settings.1
Slow Keys adjusts the sensitivity of the keyboard to process only the keystrokes you mean to make. It builds in a delay between when a key is pressed and when it’s entered. You can adjust the delay and choose to have a sound play when a key is entered.
Sticky Keys combines your keystrokes for you by letting you press keys one at a time, instead of simultaneously, to enter commands. Enter a key combination — such as Command-S (for Save) — and macOS displays each pressed key, accompanied by a sound effect, so you can make sure the right keys are entered.
macOS has over 50 editing and formatting commands. So you can turn on Dictation and tell your Mac to bold a paragraph, delete a sentence, or replace a word. You can also use Automator workflows to create your own Dictation commands.
If you have difficulty using a mouse or trackpad, use Mouse Keys to control the cursor with the numeric keypad. Press a number key as the mouse button, and use other number keys to move around the screen or to drag and drop items. Easily navigate menus, the Dock, and all your windows.
Sometimes it’s easier to use a pointing device than a keyboard. The Keyboard Viewer in macOS lets you do exactly that. It’s an image of a keyboard that floats above other applications (so it’s always handy) and you can customize it to fit your screen. Then “type” using a mouse or other pointing device. Turn on Sticky Keys and you can enter keyboard shortcuts via the onscreen keyboard, too.
The Mac has several features designed for people with cognitive and learning disabilities. Simplify the Finder to improve focus. And use the handy reference tools to improve language skills wherever you are in macOS.
With parental controls, the Mac can be set up to provide a greatly simplified experience that may be easier for people with cognitive and learning disabilities. Simple Finder reduces the Dock to just three folders. Teachers can limit the list of apps a student can open to only the ones they choose, so students can stay focused. Files, folders, and apps are displayed in a single window of neatly arranged icons so everything is easier to find.
Say you’re reading an article on astronomy and are stuck on some terminology. Just look it up in the powerful built‑in Dictionary app — from anywhere in macOS. Get quick access to definitions and synonyms that help with grammar, spelling, and pronunciation.
Text to Speech
We all learn in different ways. Some of us learn better when two or more senses are engaged simultaneously. With Text to Speech, you can highlight any text, and Alex will read it aloud. Or choose from other male or female voices to do the reading. You can even adjust the speaking rate. And if you speak more than one language, you can choose from over 70 voices spanning 42 languages.
To help with vocabulary and word‑building skills, macOS provides word completion in apps such as TextEdit and Pages. After typing just a few letters, press the Escape key and macOS suggests words. Select the word you want, and macOS completes it for you.
Those who have difficulty with expressive speech can also benefit from the assistive features in macOS. FaceTime lets you communicate visually, whether through the use of sign language, gestures, or facial expressions. iMessage lets you chat with others via text. And Text to Speech lets you hear words read aloud to help with expressive speech development — or even communicates for you by speaking the words you type.