Veronica With Four Eyes

How I Use The Apple Pencil With Low Vision

When I recently upgraded to the iPad Air 4th Generation (also known as the Model A2316), I decided to get the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation, as my friend had talked about how much they enjoyed using it. I immediately started using it and noticed a significant improvement in how I interacted with content on my device, especially as a user with low vision and dysgraphia. After receiving questions about how I use the Apple Pencil with low vision from a professor at my university and a friend on Twitter, today I will be listing my favorite uses for the Apple Pencil and how I use it in the classroom, workplace, and beyond.

What is the Apple Pencil?

The Apple Pencil is a Bluetooth wireless stylus pen developed by Apple. While there are some differences between the first- and second-generation models, the Apple Pencil is designed to help users interact with and create various forms of content that include handwriting, drawing, and other tasks that require more precision than a finger. The 2nd Generation Apple Pencil retails for about $129 new, though users will need to check to see if their iPad is compatible with the Apple Pencil prior to purchase- this can be done with a web search or by contacting Apple Support. The Apple Pencil is not compatible with iPhone or devices other than the iPad.

How to connect the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil to iPad

Once Bluetooth is turned on in the Settings app, the Apple Pencil can be paired to the iPad by resting the Pencil on the magnetic connector that is located on the side of the iPad- next to the volume keys. The Apple Pencil will remain connected unless Bluetooth is turned off or Airplane Mode is turned on. There is no need to charge the Apple Pencil with a separate cable- it will charge with the iPad if it is attached to the magnetic connector, which is where I place it when it is not in use.

Using Apple Pencil for handwriting with dysgraphia

I have dysgraphia, which causes distorted, poor handwriting- in my case, my natural handwriting looks similar to stereotypical doctor’s handwriting, or like someone tried to write with their non-dominant hand. However, I have found that my handwriting is much neater with Apple Pencil because I can write at a raised angle (compared to a sheet of paper flat on a desk), and also because I can zoom in on a section of a page. There is also a built-in handwriting to text recognition feature which allows me to convert my handwriting to text with high accuracy, which is helpful for when I go back to reference text later. While I do not regularly write in cursive, I find the Apple Pencil is perfect for signing documents or filling out medical forms.

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Taking tests with Apple Pencil

When I took online math classes, I had an approved accommodation for completing tests in a digital format so that I could zoom in on the page more easily. However, my teachers still requested that students hand-write equations and show their work manually when possible on tests, so the Apple Pencil quickly became one of my most-used tools, especially in my second calculus class. One of the things that really helped me was being able to change the ink color of the digital pen so that I could better distinguish variables or parts of the equation and not have to worry about accidentally forgetting an exponent or mistaking an X for a Y. I found out after my class ended that one of my favorite iPad apps, Notability, has a paid feature that can convert handwritten math to MathType text, though I have not personally tested this feature.

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Annotating pictures

Where is the cinnamon in the spice cabinet? Where is that sign located in relation to the high school? Where is the error located in a screenshot? These are all questions I’ve been able to answer by using the Markup tool to draw on pictures with my Apple Pencil, which feels more natural to use than just drawing with my finger. While the Apple Pencil did not exist at the time, I previously would annotate pictures that I would take of inaccessible classwork in high school so that my teachers or case manager would better understand what made a given page inaccessible, or I would complete the assignment by writing on top of an image.

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Completing accessible puzzles

I have an entire post all about how to make puzzles such as word searches and mazes accessible for iPad, and have found that the Apple Pencil is fantastic for older users who feel more comfortable using a pen or stylus in order to complete their favorite activities. The Apple Pencil feels more like a natural writing utensil than a lot of the larger styluses on the market, so it is a great tool for people who prefer a smooth device that feels natural in their hand.

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Using Apple Pencil for art

I am not a skilled digital artist by any means, but I have done several digital collages and editing projects using my Apple Pencil as an aid. I have found that the Apple Pencil has very high precision and can help tremendously with drawing straight lines or geometric shapes, as well as rearranging text boxes and image elements. The main reason I prefer to use the Apple Pencil for art over other tools is because it is very easy to erase or undo items, which is helpful for someone like me who has trouble erasing and issues with hand coordination. Two of my other friends that have low vision also have had great success using their Apple Pencil with the Procreate app, which is a popular art app for iPad.

How I use Apple Pencil as a blogger

While I recognize that a lot of people do not have blogs, I have found that the Apple Pencil is a great tool for helping me with various blog-related tasks that also translate to helping me in the workplace. Some of these tasks include:

  • Adding information to a simple calendar, i.e which days have a post published
  • Creating short lists of edits or immediate tasks
  • Taking notes while on phone or video calls where typing might be a distraction
  • Reviewing screenshots or checking out various page layouts
  • Annotating an eBook or other document for reference

Summary of I use Apple Pencil for low vision

  • The Apple Pencil is a Bluetooth wireless stylus developed by Apple that retails for $129
  • The Apple Pencil automatically connects to the iPad and charges while it rests on a magnetic strip
  • Users with dysgraphia may prefer to use the Apple Pencil because it can be used at a slanted angle and works great for signing papers or filling out forms
  • Students can also use the Apple Pencil in approved testing environments and can have the handwritten information converted into text or MathType
  • Images from the gallery can be annotated with Apple Pencil to include hand-drawn lines, shapes, and other symbols
  • The Apple Pencil can be used to complete puzzles such as mazes, sudoku, crosswords, and other similar items
  • The Apple Pencil can be used for various digital art projects and integrates with the popular art app Procreate
  • For people who run blogs or other creative projects, the Apple Pencil can help with accessing a calendar or taking quick notes

Here are my favorite uses for the Apple Pencil and how I use it in the classroom, workplace, and as a blogger