How to use Assistive Access on iPhone or iPad with iOS 17

How to use Assistive Access on iPhone and iPad

With iOS 17, Apple has empowered disabled users with Assistive Access. This feature helps you operate your devices with gestures, voice commands, or other input methods. Interesting, right? In this guide, I will share how to set up and use Assistive Access on your iPhone or iPad.

What is Assistive Access in iOS 17?

Assistive Access is a unique feature for people with cognitive disabilities. It lets users control their devices using simple gestures instead of pressing buttons. Besides, there are easy-to-use tools like voiceover, magnification, and switch control to make navigation easier.

Note that when you turn on Assistive Access, it modifies your device’s appearance and user interface. You will only see crucial apps and limited system elements. It blocks system notifications, updates, and privacy-concerned info. Also, you need to choose which app features to allow in this mode.

Requirements to use Assistive Access

Before you turn on and use Assistive Access on your iPhone or iPad, meet the below requirements.

  • Add the Face ID of the person who will be using Assistive Access.
  • Install the required apps that the person needs to use during Assistive Access.
  • Save the vital contact information so the person can quickly call or message them.
  • Set up Siri so the person can use voice commands to control their device.
  • Connect the device to Wi-Fi or cellular data so the person can access the internet and use apps that require an internet connection.
  • Set a passcode for the device so it is protected from unauthorized access.

How to turn on and set up Assistive Access in iOS 17 or iPadOS 17

  1. Launch Settings → Head to Accessibility → Select Assistive Access.

    Head to Accessibility and locate and select Assistive Access
  2. Choose Set Up Assistive Access → Tap Continue.

    Choose Set Up Assistive Access and tap Continue
  3. Select Continue if you wish to activate Assistive Access for the current logged-in Apple ID. 
    You can also switch Apple ID by selecting Change Apple ID.
  4. Choose Grid or Row as the appearance of the Home Screen → Press Continue.

    Activate Assistive Access by tapping Continue, choose Grid or Row, and press Continue
  5. Tap the plus icon beside the apps you want to add → Customize the app and select Continue.
    I’m using the Messages app here.

    Tap the + icon before the apps, customize the app, and select Continue to head back to the Choose App screen
  6. You can choose from the Other Apps not optimized for Assistive Access → Tap Continue.
  7. Select Continue.

    Choose app screen and things to know screen
  8. Tap Continue when you’re sure that the person who will use this device knows the passcode of the device and their Face ID is added.
  9. Enter a password for Assistive Touch → Re-enter the password to confirm it.
    Note: The password can be different from the iPhone’s password.

    Setting passwords for Assistive Access
  10. Enter your Apple ID and Password → Select Continue.

    Enter your Apple ID and Password and select Continue on the Exiting Assistive Access screenEnter your Apple ID and Password and select Continue on the Exiting Assistive Access screen
  11. Choose Enter Assistive Access Now → Enter the Assistive Access Passcode.

    Choose Enter Assistive Access Now and enter the Assistive Access Passcode

Now, your device will enter into Assistive Access mode after a few seconds.

How to use Assistive Access on your iPhone or iPad

When Assistive Access is enabled, the apps you added while configuring Assistive Access will now have sizable icons on the Home Screen. Besides, the user interface will be condensed into more straightforward. There will also be simple action buttons and a large Back button.

1. Unlock your iPhone or iPad

  1. Press the Side Button on your iPhone or the Top Button on your iPad to wake the device.
    Alternatively, you can tap your iPhone or iPad screen to do so.
  2. Press Tap.

    Press Tap
  3. Select Tap.

    Select Tap
  4. Tap Open.

    Tap Open
  5. Enter your device password.
    You can also use Face ID or Touch ID to unlock your device.

    Enter your device password

To lock your device, press the side button or the top button.

2. Use apps in Assistive Access

Simply tap the app icon to open the app. You will see a persistent Back button and a more extensive interface.

For example, when I opened the Messages app with Assistive Access, the initial screen presented two columns of large contact cards. Each column featured the contact’s image and name.

3. Read new text messages

If you receive a new text message while on Assistive Access, the Messages app will show a bell icon with the New alert in the top left corner. Furthermore, if your device is locked, you will see the same icon on the top right corner of the Open button.

4. Change basic Assistive Access settings

  1. Triple-press the Side Button or Top Button on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap the Settings in the top right corner of the screen.

    Tap Settings on the top right corner of the screen
  3. Here, you have the following options: Airplane Mode, Dark Mode, Bold Text, Volume, Brightness, and Text Size.

    Change Assistive Access settings

Once you have made the desired adjustments, tap the Back button to return to the Assistive Access Home Screen.

5. Access emergency options during Assistive Access

  1. Triple-press the Side Button or Top Button on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Select Emergency from the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Use the Dialpad to call an emergency number.

    Emergency call screen on Assistive Access

Moreover, you can also check the health info of the user by selecting the *Medical ID in the top left corner of the screen.

How to exit Assistive Access mode on iPhone or iPad

You may need to exit Assistive Access to add or remove apps, activate Siri, or change the auto-lock time.

  1. Triple-press the Side Button or Top Button on your device.
  2. Enter the Assistive Access password.

    Exit screen Assistive Acces

Now, wait a few minutes, and you’ll be back at your iPhone or iPad home screen.

1. Add or remove apps

  1. Open Settings → Head to Accessibility → Choose Assistive Access.
  2. Tap Manage Apps.

    tap accessibility, assistive touch, manage apps in settings
  3. To add an app: Select the plus (+) icon next to the app → Tap Continue.

    tap plus sign, select continue in settings
  4. To remove an app: Tap the minus (-) icon beside the app → Select Remove.

    tap minus sign, select remove in settings

2. Enable Siri during Assistive Access

  1. Open Settings → Go to Accessibility → Tap Assistive Access.
  2. Toggle Allow Siri.

    toggle on siri in assistive access settings

Note: You must set up Siri beforehand.

3. Change the auto-lock time of the Assistive Access screen

  1. Launch Settings → Navigate to Display & Brightness.
  2. Tap Auto-Lock.
  3. Choose a timestamp you want from the list.
    You can also choose Never to always keep the display active.

    tap display and brightness, auto lock, select a time in settings


What to do when Assistive Access shows a white screen after updating settings?

If you changed some settings in Assistive Access and now your screen is white, you can fix it by restarting your iPhone or iPad. You can update your iOS or iPadOS to the latest version if that doesn’t work.

Can we make the icons on the Assistive Access screen bigger or smaller?

No, you can’t change the icons on your Assistive Access screen.

What are the benefits of using Assistive Access on iOS 17?

Assistive Access can increase independence for people with disabilities by improving accessibility. It makes the navigation of the device easier and lets people access crucial features and apps.

Wrapping up…

Though Assistive Touch is an excellent feature that helps users control their devices, it has a few limitations to remember. Despite this, Assistive Touch remains a valuable tool for people with disabilities. What are your thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments.

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Author Profile

Bhaskar is a tech guru who turned wordsmith. Hiding his B.Tech degree in a closet, he ditched the corporate path to simplify tech for everyone. For the past 5 years, he's been dishing out how-tos, reviews, and sharp insights. But there's more! He's a witty interview champ and has been sharing his wisdom for 3 years. Furthermore, he has honed his editing skills for 1.5 years and is now delving into marketing to assist newcomers. When not jamming his fingers on those mechanical keyboards, you may find him on strings or engaging in sports. And by evening, his quotes will be appearing on your Instagram feeds.

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