An introducction to VoiceOver on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
If you have never used an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch you may be surprised by just how accessible they can be for somebody who is blind or vision impaired.
The accessibility features included in Apple's current range of iOS devices are specifically designed for those that have a vision impairment, are deaf or hard of hearing, or have a physical or learning disability. Below is a brief description of VoiceOver, which is the most significant of these features for somebody who is blind or vision impaired:
VoiceOver is a feature on Apple's iOS devices that describes aloud what appears onscreen. Turning this feature on allows you to use the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch if you cannot see.
VoiceOver will tell you the following:
- Tells you about each element on the screen as you select it.
- Speaks out different items as you touch or drag your fingers across the screen.
- Reads text when you select the text.
- If ‘speak hints’ is turned on, then VoiceOver will tell you the name of the item.
- Selecting a control causes VoiceOver to provide instructions for how to use it.
Additionally, VoiceOver helps with navigation. For example, when you go to a new screen, it will speak the first element on that new screen. It also lets you know when your iOS device is in landscape or portrait mode and if it is locked or unlocked.
Another feature that VoiceOver includes is a rotor control. This is a virtual control that behaves like a physical dial. To use this, you rotate two fingers on the screen to “turn” the dial and choose items on the rotor. Then you can flick up or down to use the selected item. In general, the rotor behaves differently depending on what you are doing on the device.
Apple has demonstrated a commitment to making their iOS devices accessible. There are regular improvements and enhancements to VoiceOver (and the other accessibility features). This means that an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch is certainly a viable option for somebody who is blind or vision impaired.
- VoiceOver will work with the built-in applications on your iOS device. However, it does not work with all 3rd party applications that are available for download.
- VoiceOver will speak in the language that has been selected in the International settings.
- You can turn VoiceOver on or off either on the device itself or in iTunes when you connect your device to your computer.