Mac OS Built-In Accessibility

Mac OS X includes assistive technology in its products as standard features, at no additional cost. Some key Mac OS X accessibility features are listed below, click here for a full list. Also, Download the Quick Start Guide to Mac Operating System Built-In Accessibility.



  • VoiceOver is a built-in screen reader available on Mac computers, iPhone and iPad.
  • This function allows the device to read out loud icons, menus and even Web articles making it easier for the blind and those with low-vision to use a computer.
  • Learn More about VoiceOver


  • Zoom is a built-in, full-screen magnifier that can magnify the items on the screen up to 40 times.
  • Activate by keyboard command, button on screen, trackpad gesture, or scroll ball mouse.
  • Learn More about Zoom

High Contrast and Reverse Video

  • Includes settings to increase and decrease contrast, remove color (switch to grayscale) and reverse the video to white-on-black or black-on-white.
  • Learn More about Alternative Displays

Safari Reader

  • Safari Reader removes visual distractions from online articles so you can focus on the content.
  • Presents multipage articles as one, continuous view, allowing VoiceOver users to listen to an article without any interruptions.
  • Learn More about Safari Reader


Closed Captioning

  • Includes support for playing back open and closed captioning in dynamic content such as movies, videos, and podcasts, using QuickTime, Front Row, and DVD Player.
  • Activate by keyboard command, button on screen, trackpad gesture, or scroll ball mouse.
  • Learn More about Closed Captioning

Screen Flash

  • When a Mac application needs attention, instead of a sound alert, it can flash the entire screen like a camera flash.
  • Visual notifications are a nice alternative for those hard of hearing
  • Learn More about Screen Flash

Mono Audio

  • Mono Audio plays both left and right audio channels in both left and right ears (or speakers), so those hard of hearing won't miss music or spoken audio that have distinct left- and right-channel audio tracks.
  • Learn More about Mono Audio

Physical and Motor Skills

Slow Keys

  • Slow Keys changes the sensitivity of the keyboard to filter out unintended multiple keystrokes. It adds a delay between when a key is pressed and when it is entered, so you have more time to press it and more time to remove your finger to avoid mistakes.
  • Learn More about Slow Keys

Sticky Keys

  • Using Sticky Keys, you can enter key combinations (called chords) by pressing them in sequence instead of simultaneously.
  • Displays each modifier key in the sequence in the upper-right corner of the screen, accompanied by a sound effect, so you can verify the sequence and correct it (if needed) before it's entered.
  • Learn More about Sticky Keys

Keyboard Viewer

  • If you find it easier to use a pointing device than a keyboard, you can use the Keyboard Viewer to enter text.
  • Though you type with a mouse or other pointing device, it otherwise works just like a physical keyboard.
  • Learn More about Keyboard Viewer


  • If you have trouble using a mouse or trackpad, you can have Automator perform complex, routine tasks for you.
  • Learn More about Automator

Speech Recognition

  • Speech Recognition lets you control the computer using your voice instead of the keyboard.
  • Use to navigate menus and enter keyboard shortcuts; speak checkbox names, radio button names, list items, and button names; and open, close, control, and switch among applications.
  • Learn More about Speech Recognition

Literacy and Learning

Assignable Window Backgrounds

  • For those who have difficulty reading, colors and photos can be used to assist in identifying and differentiating documents and folders.
  • You can assign a color background to the name of a file or folder label to make it easier to find and identify, and you can assign a color to the background of a window so it stands out from the others.
  • Learn More about Spelling/Grammar Check

Word Completion

  • To improve efficiency and help learn new words, you can have OS X Lion suggest words for you after typing just a few letters.
  • Learn More about Word Completion

Text to Speech

  • Using Text to Speech (TTS), you can have one of the 20 Mac voices speak selected text so you can hear a word as you see it onscreen.
  • Adjust the speaking rate to slow things down, and speed them up to adapt to the listener's abilities
  • Learn More about Text to Speech

Calculator for Math and Conversions

  • Calculator application that's three calculators in one. Perform basic, scientific, and programming functions and common conversions such as speed, length, volume, weight, pressure - even currency.
  • Have the calculator speak the names of buttons as they are pressed and tell you the results of calculations.
  • Learn More about Calculator