If you ever see me in person, it’s almost certain that I will have my iPad with me. My friends joke that it is surgically attached to me because I always am using it for something, especially as assistive technology in the classroom. Luckily, I am also allowed to use my iPad during many different testing situations by enabling guided access to use different apps. Today I will be sharing what guided access is, how to use guided access, and how I use guided access for testing situations.
What is guided access?
Guided access is a setting on the iPad that allows a user to “freeze” their screen on a specific app. While guided access is enabled, the user can’t navigate away from the app or interact with other settings until the timer expires or a passcode unrelated to the iPad passcode is typed in. Users can also enable or disable portions of the screen- more on that in a minute. Guided access does not disable accessibility settings such as VoiceOver, large print, or other settings- read more about my iPad accessibility settings here.
For my college disability services file, I have an accommodation that states that I can use assistive technology. This includes in the testing environment, so I can use my personal technology or school technology, as well as different apps. For standardized testing, it was written that I would use a specific app type, like a calculator, on my iPad with guided access enabled. Read more about testing accommodations for low vision here.
Types of apps that work best
I have found that apps that do not require an internet connections and that have no ads work best with guided access, though any app can be used. I do not recommend setting an internet browser for guided access, because it does not freeze the website displayed, just the app, so there is nothing stopping the user from going to a different webpage. If my other classmates don’t get to use the internet or other resources, then I don’t either. Guided access does not give me an unfair advantage, rather allows me to access the same information as my classmates. Read my app accessibility checklist here.
Airplane mode and erasing data
All of the testing centers I have been to required that my iPad be in airplane mode. This disables Bluetooth and wifi so that whatever app I am using doesn’t access the internet. After the test, the proctor clears the data from whatever app I was using either in the app or from within iPad settings.
How to enable guided access
To enable guided access, open the settings app, and go to the general section followed by the accessibility menu. Scroll down to the learning section, and select guided access.
To enable guided access, open the desired app and triple click the home button. From there, you can select what functions of the iPad you want to disable, which can be anything from hardware buttons to the touch screen. Specific areas of the screen can also be disabled by drawing on them. A time limit can also be set at the bottom of the screen. To start guided access, click the start button and type in a passcode. After that, the screen is frozen and the user cannot open multitasking or navigate from the app.
What I ask from the proctor
I typically tell proctors that guided access allows me to freeze an app and use the functions I need, while making it impossible for me to cheat. Whenever possible, I take tests in the Disability Services testing center, where the proctor is used to helping with assistive technology. Read more about what to bring to the Disability Services testing center here.
Guided access for standardized testing
When enabling guided access for standardized testing, the proctor in the room usually isn’t the one to enable guided access. In the past, I have had paraprofessionals from other rooms, testing specialists, and technology specialists set up guided access to ensure the proctor in the room didn’t mess with the settings. Read more about my accommodations for the SAT here, my accommodations for the ACT here, and my state standardized test accommodations here.
What I use it for
Here are some examples of how I use guided access in different classes:
- Using a calculator for math class
- Access to a dictionary app for English class
- Typing documents in word processing software
- Displaying a periodic table- read more about accessing the periodic table here
- Enlarging a formula sheet
- Taking a test in Notability- read more about Notability here
Guided access has helped me so much with ensuring that I am able to take tests in a way that is accessible and fair to the other students. Don’t let someone tell you that iPads can’t be used for testing- guided access makes it possible, and eliminates accessibility barriers for students too.
Looking for apps to use in the classroom? Check out my app reviews by visiting my app tag here.