The Accessibility Bugs Introduced and Resolved in iOS 12 for Blind and Low Vision Users

iOS 12 is now available to the public; this post contains details of the accessibility bugs for blind and low vision users which we believe to have been introduced in iOS 12, as well as details of the bugs from earlier versions of iOS which have been resolved in this release.

As is now our routine practice, each new bug has been given a severity rating; these ratings are based upon what we believe to be the implications for accessing and using iOS features and functionality and the level of impact on the overall user experience for those impacted by each bug. However, as these ratings are subjective, it is very possible that they may not reflect your own use case, so please bear this in mind when making any decision on whether to upgrade to iOS 12 upon its release.

At the time of posting, our team has identified only one bug which we would classify as serious; however, while this bug is serious, it is one which is unlikely to affect a vast majority of users.

We strongly recommend that you read through this post and any comments before updating—as this will allow you to make an informed decision on whether to install iOS 12 when it becomes available on 17 September.

As we always stress, we can make no claims on the completeness or accuracy of our testing. We are only a small team, and it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases.

Some of the bugs listed below will be specific to a certain device, configuration, or use case; this is definitely the case with the one serious bug we have identified at the time of writing. So, it is entirely likely that you will not encounter all of what we list; and it is also possible that you may encounter bugs or regressions that we did not identify during our testing. This post represents the findings of a small group of people using iOS 12 in every-day scenarios during the beta cycle, and our testing is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive.

To help us ensure that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible, we would appreciate feedback from those who have installed iOS 12 —both to confirm whether they are encountering the same problems (or have found workarounds), as well as to let us know of any additional issues that are not on this list. Of course, it’s even more important that you let Apple know of any additional bugs that you find (they already know about the ones currently listed here and are actively working on resolving them). This post explains why you should report bugs directly to Apple, as well as the best ways to do so.

With all of the disclaimers out of the way, here are the new bugs for blind and low vision users which we believe to be present in iOS 12:

Serious Bugs

  • If you do not have a passcode set on your device, it is not possible to activate notifications on the Lock Screen with VoiceOver enabled. The options to clear and manage notifications work as expected; however, when a VoiceOver user double-taps on a notification and there is no passcode set on the device, it is not possible to activate the notification. We cannot stress enough that this bug is limited to devices that do not have a passcode set; activating notifications on devices with a passcode works as expected.

Moderate Bugs

  • When using a braille display with the Messages app, if one presses a cursor routing button and then immediately starts typing text, the word "message" will be inserted.
  • When using the “Misspelled Words” rotor option with a braille display, replacements do not show up on the braille display, though you can hear with speech that carrying out the appropriate action does occur. On the braille display, the word only remains highlighted until the replacement is inserted.
  • The Misspelled Words option sometimes does not appear in the Rotor when in a text field. In some apps, this feature never appears; whilst in others, the behavior of this feature is inconsistent.

Minor Bugs

  • There are several pronunciation and inflection issues with the new Irish Siri Female voice when it is used with VoiceOver.
  • In Notes, there are duplicated rotor actions to pin, move, lock, and delete notes.

Some Further Reports

Since posting our own findings, many others have shared their own experiences of iOS 12 and reported issues that we had either missed in our own testing or which are specific to certain use cases. These reported problems include

  • iPhone X users no longer receive haptic feedback when Face ID unlocks their device.
  • There are many people who report that the native image description feature has either stopped working completely or that it's 3 finger single tap gesture has become less reliable in triggering the feature.
  • There are many people who report that the 4 finger swipe left or right to move between open apps has either stopped working completely or become inconsistent and unreliable.

If you encounter any additional accessibility bugs in iOS 12, please let others know by posting a comment below. When doing so, please provide as much information as possible so that others know exactly what to expect; when and where the problem occurs; and any possible workarounds you have found.

Accessibility Bugs Resolved in iOS 12

Our testing suggests that the following pre-existing accessibility bugs have been resolved in iOS 12:

  • Cancelling the drag of a Home Screen icon now leaves it in its previous position as intended.
  • After using 3D Touch to access ‘Peek’ menus in the Music app, VoiceOver users will no longer be able to locate screen elements which are not part of that menu and should not be accessible.

If you encounter any additional fixes during your own use of iOS 12, please let us know by posting a comment below.

In Closing

We have been compiling these lists of new bugs for every major iOS release since iOS 7; and we can state with complete certainty that iOS 12 introduces the fewest number of new bugs for VoiceOver and braille users since we began our testing. Our experience during the beta cycle has been one where most new bugs have been resolved very quickly by Apple's engineers; for this, our thanks go to everybody at Apple who has been involved with the development of iOS 12 and to the community of VoiceOver users who participated in the beta cycle.

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Submitted by treky fan on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

I know this isn't a bug report, but how do you set up the siri shortcuts? I've hunted threw the settings on my phone and IPad several times, but haven't been able to find anything.

Submitted by Dawn on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Go to the app store, download the shortcuts app. From there, you can select shortcuts jo enable. Hope this helps!

Submitted by Dawn on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

You have to go to the app store, download the shortcuts app, and then you can start finding shortcuts to enable. Hope this helps and good luck!

Submitted by alex wallis on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

the shortcuts app is mostly for creating your own, though there is a gallery of shortcuts other people have created within shortcuts itself. if you want to set up shortcuts for existing apps on your phone that have them premade then go to settings, then siri and search and you will see stuff to do with shortcuts in there for existing apps on your phone, though I don't think many apps support it yet.
to be honest the shortcuts in the gallery that other people have made are mostly not very exciting or interesting in my view.

Submitted by Deon588 on Thursday, September 27, 2018

I found a work around for the issue where it's no longer possible to have photos described or the camera focus described: Open camera and turn the phone around for the camera to detect your face, when voiceover speaks the face detected phrase image recognition should work again in the camera and photos apps. Also to hear the current camera focus description after moving the camera around first flick left to change the voiceover cursor focus and then ffocus on the camera image space again as it seems like the descriptions doesn't automatically refresh unless focus is first changed... I noticed that image description sometimes worked and other times didn't so I played around with it untill I figured this out, over all the camera focus/image detection is very impressive in IOS 12, I think that when/if they fix this bug it might be useful in way more scenarios than just taking pictures as it ends up being a almost real-time description of whatever the camera is pointed at.

Submitted by burak on Thursday, September 27, 2018

In reply to by Orko

The workaround for that is to swipe down with three fingers to get into notifications and getting back to your app.

Submitted by Bruce Harrell on Thursday, September 27, 2018

I pulled the trigger the first day on my iPhone 6s. Worked like a dream snappy, responsive, and no bugs. Yesterday I installed IOS 12 on my brand new (what else would it be?) iPhone Xs, and I'm haven't experienced a single bug. 4 finger swiping between apps? No problem. 3 finger single tap? works every time. Sure, no haptics when unlocking, but that's not a bug. that's Apple's flawed judgment. They chose to make it that way. We simply need to let them know we don't like it.
Hope you all have fun! smile

Submitted by Andromache on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I don't know if this has already been mentioned, but VO no longer announces Bluetooth status at the top of the screen near the cell network, wifi network, battery level, etc. It should normally announce that Bluetooth is on or connected.

Also, when I unlock my phone in order to see notifications but am still on the lock screen, the Locked icon is still announced. I don't know if that's a feature or a bug. It does go away after a couple seconds, but by then, the phone has already made the unlock sound. So there's just a slight lag for VO to register that the icon is gone.

Wow! Thank you for the image description tip and explaining about the viewfinder and needing to flick away from it to get updated info. For the record, I had no problems testing my photos with the three-finger single tap. I totally forgot the feature existed because it used to be so unreliable. Now it works every time. However, the descriptions are not that accurate. Or at least, it doesn't give nearly enough info to be all that useful. But the same gesture for viewfinder positioning is handy. I do have screen curtain on and brightness turned down, if that makes a difference, but even set up this way, I still get descriptions. I just wonder if it'd be more accurate with the brightness up and screen curtain off.

Just wanted to mention that I often use the Touch ID gesture to unlock the phone without actually opening it. This is because my notifications are set to show previews only when unlocked. If I get a notification from Messages or Twitter, VO will just tell me the number of notifications when I hit the Wake button for the first time. I can move around and see what apps sent things, but it still won't show me the content of those notifications. This way, I can unlock the phone, view the previews, and then immediately put my phone to sleep. It's an easy way to see if a notification needs to be acted on right away or can wait until I'm stationary or free.

ETA: I can also get into the Control Center or full Notification Center from the lock screen by merely unlocking with Touch ID. Just seems handy when that's all I want to do but don't need to fully open the phone.

Submitted by Jo on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I scrolled down this entire list of comments and didn't see anyone else having these issues. So please respond either way; and I will also report them to Apple. I am using an iPhone 8 with iOS 12. The first is pretty annoying. When attempting to answer a phone call, the two finger double tap does not work. I've had to call several people back, because the call eventually just hangs up. Sometimes, I can flick to "slide to answer" and activate it that way.
The second issue is not as big of a deal. Each morning, I go into the app store to check for updates. But I can't activate the updates tab or any other tab with a single finger double tap. I have to go out of the app and back in before I can activate the updates tab to check for app updates. I hope these explanations are thorough enough. Please advise.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

I haven't had either of these issues. One issue with the app store I had for a day or so was when I would touch the bottom of the screen to find the updates tab, there were no tabs at the bottom. However, a four-finger tap at the bottom of the screen would pull the tabs into view again.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

One of the new features discussed for iOS12 was the changes to the do not disturb. Here's an interesting question, though. So if you go to the control center, find the do not disturb, and do a 3d touch on it, options show up. Mine indicate I can set do not disturb for an hour, until evening, or until I leave where I am. Here's my question. What time does iOS12 define as "evening?" I find that a bit vague. Thoughts?

I believe the magic tap to answer calls works for me. I also have an iPhone 8 and iOS 12.

As far as the App Store issue, I didn't have that one but I had a similar problem where if I went into Settings and tried to open one of the screens, like Sounds or General, I'd tap and nothing would happen. It would just make the sound to acknowledge the action was performed. I'd have to exit Settings and then go back in to fix it. But after restarting my phone, I haven't had that Settings issue anymore.

I have an iPhone 8. There is no speech and no navigation sounds. Siri confirms VoiceOver is on. I've restarted the phone and turned VoiceOver off and back on. I just tried making a phone call and that didn't fix it either. Does anyone else have a different workaround?

Submitted by Bruce Harrell on Tuesday, October 9, 2018

1. Hold down the power and home buttons for a slow count of 33. If that doesn't work after restarting:

2. Get someone sighted to help you and call Apple technical support and ask for an accessibility support assistant.

good luck.

Submitted by alex wallis on Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bruce you should be very careful when suggesting the holding power and home button method to people, as if you hold these buttons for two long you can put your phone into recovery mode which means no VoiceOver or any feedback, you ar literally totally stuck if your blind and have nobody sighted to help you get your phone out of recovery mode, I think there is a process but I am not sure. In the past though if I have put my phone into recovery mode I have had to connect my phone to iTunes and restore it. also please note that if your phone does go into recovery mode iTunes doesn't back it up it will simply offer to restore the phone to factory settings so you would lose everything on it. yes home and power buttons do work for force shutting down the device but timing is key, and I have done it before but I don't like to do it.
also the method for forcing a shut down or putting it into recovery mode is different on phones with side buttons instead of home buttons.

Submitted by Jeff on Tuesday, October 9, 2018

It sounds like the Voiceover volume might be turned all the way down. Try performing something where Voiceover would normally talk and hold the volume up button for a few seconds to see if you start hearing Voiceover.

Submitted by Chris on Friday, October 12, 2018

I am still having my voiceover stop talking and just make the noises. The workaround is turning on and off voiceover. I just installed the latest update 12.1 somethin something. Same issue. Also I do not use a passcode and this update did not fix the notification issue at all. I would love some help with the voiceover not talking issue. It's been a 2 year issue for me and 3 different iphones, 6s, 7, and 8. Apple has had me reset every device and no such luck.

Submitted by Tiresias on Friday, November 9, 2018

I have also found a common issue is voiceover clicks a button I had navigated away from when I try to click something else, is this fixed in iOS 12 or did anyone else notice it in iOS 11?

I don't know if you normally have the Voiceover sounds turned on, but maybe if you turned them off that might help with your Voiceover speech issues. I don't know why this would be so, but stranger things have happened. Unless you rely on the specialized Voiceover sound effects, I would say get rid of them and see what happens.

Submitted by Duff on Thursday, November 29, 2018

Hi. I have an iPad Pro 9.7, and have noticed the following issue since upgrading to iOS 12.

When using the standard Mail app with VoiceOver on, I can move around a selected message and VoiceOver will read each portion of it, including the text in the message body. However, if I reply to that message, from that point on VoiceOver will no longer read the text in the message body of any message I select, until I close the Mail app and restart it.

Has anyone else encountered this?

Submitted by Duff on Friday, November 30, 2018

Is anyone else out there experiencing this with VoiceOver on iOS? When scrolling through a long document or web page using the three-finger swipe up or down gesture, There are often pages that I cannot get to at all. For instance, I can be on page 1, swipe up with three fingers, and be on page 3, skipping page 2. If I then swipe down again I'm back on page 1, again skipping page 2.

also, suppose you have a long document or webpage, and wish to access the 90th page of it. Is there any better way then repeatedly swiping up with three fingers? In a very long document, this can get tedious quickly. Whenever I attempt this, I always wind up hitting something that sends me to the Top of the document, and I must repeat the whole sequence. Arrggh! I have tried toggling VO off, scrolling down blindly, and then toggling VO back on, but this puts me back at the top of the document.

Submitted by MarkP on Thursday, December 13, 2018

In the majority of situations, but not always, when I complete a password field using virtual keyboard, then double-tap Submit, there is a slight additional click and I find that a random additional character was added to the end of what I inserted, Submit was activated as intended, but this has of course made the string incorrect and I'm thrown back to the "Submit Password" page, with the serious danger in a lot of cases that this will happen three times and I'll have a heck of a job with registration again, often including captures with no usable alternative for a VO user. I'm careful to tap away from the letters or numbers when I operate the button. I don't know where it's finding the additional character that will now be at the end of my inserted string. Any ideas? These aren't obscure sites, it's happening with Amazon, for instance. Tracking this down is more tricky because I bought an SE and upgraded to IOS 12 at the same time, but before that I was doing all this totally successfully for years.

Submitted by Elton Lopes on Friday, April 12, 2019

Whenever I'm on call on the iPhone and get some notification, my face starts interacting with the screen and sometimes I end up dialing numbers or turning off the call.
The solution is to remove the iPhone from the face and approach again.

When I report this, I was with iOS 12.1.3. Now, with iOS 12.2, the bug continuous...
iPhone XR 64 gb blue.

Submitted by Kerby on Friday, April 12, 2019

I have that issue as well but for me, it doesn't have to be a notification. My face just touches the screen and voiceover rattles on and sometimes ends the call. That's why I now use a Bluetooth headset while on a call from now on. Problem solved.

Submitted by Taeshim on Tuesday, October 1, 2019

I've mentioned this before and did not receive any response... I've reported to apple about this bug by calling and through website to report bugs and it never got fixed in ios 12... Supposedly it is finally fixed in ios 13, but that doesn't help me because I have an iPhone 6... When I type something in Korean, VO will read it in the Korean voice only when I have the Korean keyboard selected and when I'm on a different keyboard, it just says unreadable text... This worked fine before ios 9 or 10 I believe... When I spoke to the accessibility team before, they said that others have reported this bug before, but now when I call them, they say no one else has this problem... I was sad to see how disrespectful the customer service rep was to me... usually apple reps are very willing to help, but not this guy... Anyway, I noticed on my iPhone 5 there was a update for it not too long ago, so I thought maybe if I reported this problem, they may try to work on it to fix if for those of us that use 2 languages on our phone and cannot get a new phone yet... If there are anyone also having this issue, could you please report it to apple as well?
Thank you