Tracing Lines with the iPhone


The student will locate and read posted information using the iPhone camera or magnifier by spotting, fixating, and then tracing environmental lines 

It seems that smart phones make their way into the hands of our students these days. In my experience, middle school students with low vision are more willing to use their iPhone instead of a monocular because it doesn’t stand out to their peers as different. One student described their use of it in class to spot small pieces of information from the board, to see street signs or landmarks in their community, and to read posted menus while waiting in line. Like teaching to use a monocular, lessons using the iPhone camera or magnifier feature are scaffolded from simple to complex and inside to outside. Starting with spotting and fixating, focusing & reading simple letters/numbers/words, tracing lines and then tracking.

  • Spotting and fixating lessons begin inside their school building from sitting with their elbow(s) on a table to standing in the hallway with a wrist/forearm parallel and against the wall, both practicing strategies to create a steady hand.
  • After students find success with spotting and fixating on targets at varying distances inside, horizonal and vertical lines are discussed and explored inside the building.
  • Pictures of environmental lines in the environment are previewed on a PowerPoint/google slide/iBook presentation/Word document. (Download I Spy Environmental Lines PDF here.)
  • Previewing examples and having the student describe possible lines to trace in the provided picture allows the teacher to check for understanding as well as expose the student to environmental lines within their neighborhood (i.e. crosswalks, stop bars, traffic lights, pedestrian lights, street signs).
  • When outside, glare can become an issue with the screen. Students can use strategies like changing their position or taking a picture/freeze frame and then moving it with their back to the light source.
  • Ideally, when outside you can have your student practice in simple, quiet areas to trace curbs, stop bars, crosswalks, street sign poles, traffic control poles first.
  • Then extend the activity to a small business area where they have to manage tracing the lines with possible interference like pedestrians, bikers, and traffic flow. 

The following video is of a student demonstrating and narrating his use of the magnifier on his phone during an orientation and mobility lesson. Caption and description of the Tracing Line Video available here.

How to get to the magnifier feature on your iPhone or iPad

Turn on Magnifier

Settings > General > Accessibility > Magnifier (on) 

Access Magnifier in Accessibility Shortcut

Accessibility > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut 

  • iPhone: Triple Click home button to activate/one click home to exit
  • iPhone X: Triple click the side button to activate/swipe up from the bottom to the top with one finger to exit

*Students have told me the magnifier will zoom farther and more clearly than the iPhone camera, however we have no yet collected data on that. Stay tuned!