Group of Business People Using Digital DevicesIf you are not currently a tablet or smartphone user, you probably know someone who is, or at the least, experienced someone using a digital device in a public setting. So by now most people understand all of the wonderful benefits digital devices offer, including mobile access to the internet, the ability to take photos and videos at anytime, immediate connection to friends and family, and easy access to a multitude of entertainment options. All of these things are great, but with more tools and information in the palm of our hand, comes more distraction from the world right in front of us. Is this a bad thing? No, not necessarily, so long as you are an individual who can prioritize and manage your time spent on digital devices.

However, what about an adult or child who struggles with prioritizing tasks and time management? For example, prioritizing and scheduling can sometimes be challenging, if not impossible, for a child or adult with a disability such as (but not limited to) ADHD, Autism, or traumatic brain injury (TBI). For those individuals, digital devices can become a distraction, so much so that life around them becomes less important then whats on the screen in front of them and things such as important events, personal grooming, and sometimes even eating gets forgotten.

The first solution that one might suggest is to get rid of the digital device all together, but this is not right or fair for many obvious reasons. Moreover, in taking away the device you are effectively eliminating a multitude of assistive technology (AT) solutions that could vastly help the individual in their independence. So instead, make the digital device work for you. How?

Distractions, meet Guided Access!

Guided Access helps you to stay focused on a task while using your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Guided Access limits your device to a single app and lets you control which app features are available.


You can use Guided Access to:

– Temporarily restrict your iOS device to a single app

– Disable areas of the screen that aren’t relevant to a task, or areas where an accidental gesture might cause a distraction

– Disable the hardware button

How to Use Guided Access

On your iOS device open Settings, General, Accessibility, and then Guided Access. Once there, turn Guided Access on. Once activated, you will see three settings: Accessibility Shortcut, Passcode Settings, and Time Limits.

An Accessibility Shortcut allows quick access to pre-selected accessibility settings. By activating this setting, you will be able to turn on Guided Access by triple clicking the home button.

General, Accessibility, Guided Access

Passcode Settings will allow you to set a four digit passcode. A passcode controls the use of Guided Access and prevents someone from leaving an active session.

Passcode Settings

The Time Limits setting will let you select a sound to play when Guided Access is finished with an active session.

Time Limits

Lets see Guided Access at work! Pictured here is the Choiceworks app. Through the app, we created a child’s morning schedule. We are going to activate Guided Access for one hour so the hypothetical child in this tutorial can focus on their morning routine through utilizing all of the benefits of the Choiceworks app without distractions from other games or applications on the device.

By triple clicking the home button, Guided Access is activated. Right away, you have a few setting options to choose from before the active session is ready to launch.

Guided Access control screen

The first thing you may want to do is lock any parts of the screen you want to limit access to. This could be a back button or a settings option that will bring the child out of what they are supposed to be focusing on. Simply circle the areas of the screen you want locked.

Circle screen to limit access

You will see the circled area now appears gray. Using the controls on the gray area, you can change the size and shape of the marked area.

Circle screen to limit access

Now the gray box is neatly covering the buttons the child should not have access to.

Edit limited access box

If  you do not want the child to have any access to using the whole screen, activate the Touch feature.

Touch button

It grays out and locks the entire screen.
Touch button activated

Next, use the Hardware Buttons feature to select which of the physical buttons on the device you want the user to have access to.

Hardware buttons options
And finally, you can use the Time Limit feature to set the time the Guided Access session will be active.

Time limit options

Now that Guided Access is on and ready to go, the child will be able to focus on what is important, without any distractions from their device!

Guided Access activated



Guided Access is just one of many AT tools individuals can use to stay focused and on task. To discuss other AT options for staying on task, feel free to contact IPAT with your questions!



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