How to use VoiceOver for visual accessibility on iPhone and iPad
The iPhone and iPad have some great accessibility features for people with hearing and sight impairments that makes using iOS more enjoyable, and less frustrating. For visually impaired individuals, the VoiceOver feature allows your iPhone or iPad to speak selections and add custom gestures so you know exactly what you're tapping on before selecting it. You just need to enabled it first.
- Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap on General.
- Tap on Accessibility.
- Under Vision at the very top, tap on VoiceOver.
- Turn On VoiceOver by tapping on the On/Off toggle.
- You can scroll down with three fingers to view VoiceOver options and customize your experience.
VoiceOver changes the gestures in iOS in order to make it easier for visually impaired individuals to know what they're tapping on before they actually select it. Here are some tips to using VoiceOver:
- Single tap anywhere on the screen and your iPhone or iPad will speak aloud the item that you're tapping on.
- Double tap on an item to select it.
- To scroll through a page, use three fingers. With VoiceOver off you typically use only one finger to scroll, in VoiceOver, you'll need to use three so your iPhone or iPad doesn't misread a tap as a scroll.
- To toggle speech commands on and off from the Lock Screen, double tap with three fingers.
- A two finger double tap while performing an action will start or stop that action. For example, if you're on a phone call, double tapping the screen with two fingers will end the call. If you're in the Camera app, double tap with two fingers to take a photo.
- In VoiceOver options you can customize and fine tune options such as whether or not you'd like the device to speak notifications.
For more tips and tricks regarding VoiceOver, we recommend using the VoiceOver Practice option within the VoiceOver Settings menu. This allows you to tap the screen as you'd like and the iPhone or iPad will speak aloud what that action does system wide. This will help get someone used to how VoiceOver works and what commands trigger what actions.
If you've come across any interesting VoiceOver options, feel free to share them in the comments below!
Note: Originally published, April 2013. Updated, July 2014.