VoiceOver is the gesture-based screen reader built into all iOS devices. Depending on how advanced a user is, the gestures and tools used will vary from person to person. In this post we will cover some of the most commonly used gestures and problem solving techniques to hopefully leave you more comfortable with iOS accessibility features than before.
First, there are a few options to turn VO on/off:
Option 1: Ask Siri, “Turn VoiceOver on” or “Turn VoiceOver off”
Option 2: From the Home screen, go to Settings and select General. Select Accessibility. Select VoiceOver. Tap button to turn on.
Option 3: From the Home screen, go to Settings and select General. Select Accessibility. Select Accessibility Shortcut. Choose Voiceover and Zoom. This turns on a setting to triple-click the Home Button to turn either option on/off.
Second, within VoiceOver settings there a few options to personalize.
- Speaking Rate. This setting adjusts the rate of speed VoiceOver reads the screen. For first time users it may be easiest to adjust the rate with VoiceOver off.
- Verbosity: This setting adjusts how wordy you want VoiceOver to be. For first time users it may be helpful to have the settings turned on to hear how descriptive the reader can be and then adjust as you become more comfortable with the gestures.
- Rotor: The rotor allows you to adjust VO settings from different areas such as when you have another app open, are using the internet, or are just on the home screen. We suggest at the minimum turning on Speaking Rate and Volume for VO Survival Skills.
- Typing Style: Standard Typing.
Third, now you are ready to use VoiceOver through GESTURES!
Gestures include touching the screen with 1,2,3, or 4 fingers, tapping the screen quickly either 1,2, or 3 times, or swiping the screen with a gesture called a “flick” either up/down/right/left.
For the purpose of this post we will only address some of the most commonly used gestures.
One-finger TOUCH/SINGLE TAP: VO speaks and focuses onto the item under your finger. This gesture will not launch or open any apps like it does when you normally touch your screen.
One-finger TOUCH AND MOVE AROUND THE SCREEN: VO speaks any items under your finger as you move around.
One-finger DOUBLE TAP: This gesture activates and opens items in focus. This gesture will launch apps and activate buttons.
One-finger FLICK right or left: Move to the next or previous selected item of focus.
Two-finger SINGLE TAP: Pause or continue speech. This includes pausing VO.
Two-finger double tap: answer/hang up phone call, start/stop dictation in a text field
Two-finger FLIP UP: Read ALL text on screen from top to bottom
Three-finger DOUBLE TAP: VO speech on/off. VO will still be on but you will not hear anything on the screen being read.
Three-finger TRIPLE TAP: Screen curtain on/off. VO will still be on but the screen will be black. This is a good feature to activate if you want to practice your VO skills and utilize problem solving techniques non-visually.
TYPING To type within a text field:
Option 1: Use a One-finger TOUCH AND MOVE AROUND THE SCREEN gesture and listen for the letter to come into focus. Then use a One-finger DOUBLE TAP to enter the letter into the text field.
Option 2: Use a One-finger TOUCH AND MOVE AROUND THE SCREEN gesture and listen for the letter to come into focus. Keep one finger on the letter in focus and touch anywhere on the screen with another finger. This is called a SPLIT-TAP gesture.
To practice VO gestures turn on VoiceOver within settings and locate VoiceOver Practice (pictured below) or download the LookTel VoiceOver Tutorial from the app store for free.
Button: When VO reads an item as a “button” that means you have the option to use a gesture, most commonly a one-finger double tap to activate the item in focus A survival skill for navigating “buttons” is VO usually lands on a “back-button” at the top-left section of the screen when a new page is opened.
Adjustable: VO is telling you the item in focus can be changed.
Link: When reading text with links to webpages for example, VO will read “link” to let you know an action is available within the text. This can be turned off within Verbosity Settings: Embedded Links.
Survival Problem Solving Skills:
Option 1: App Switcher. If you happen to get stuck within an app Double-tap the Home Screen and use a Three-Finger Flick Up to completely close the app.
Option 2: Two-finger Fick Up: Have VO read all the text and listen for what buttons are available and what page you have open.
Option 3: Rotor: Use two fingers with space between them and touch the screen as if you were turning a dial. Use this gesture to move through the Rotor settings and adjust the speaking rate or volume with a one-finger flick up or down.
Zoom is another accessibility feature built into iOS devices.
First, there are a few options to turn Zoom on/off:
Option 1: From the Home screen, go to Settings and select General. Select Accessibility. Select Zoom. Tap button to turn on.
Option 2: Use the same shortcut created for VO from above by triple clicking the Home Button and selecting zoom.
Second, within Zoom Settings there a few options to personalize.
- Zoom Region: Full Screen Zoom
- Maximum Zoom Level: This creates a limit to how far the screen can be zoomed in. This limit will be different for every user.
Third, now you are ready to use ZOOM through GESTURES!
3-finger DOUBLE TAP: Activate zoom or return to default screen size
3-finger DOUBLE TAP DRAGE UP/DOWN: Adjust the magnification
3-finger DRAG on screen: Navigate the screen while zoomed in