Apple Watch accessibility

There's been a lot of discussion over the years about accessibility and iPhone. Often missed are the many accessibility features also available for Apple Watch, including those for the visually impaired.

How to use VoiceOver with Apple Watch

VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that uses the built-in Apple Watch speaker. In doing so, it can tell you what's happening on the wearable device without the need to see it. To date, VoiceOver is compatible across built-in apps and is available in more than 35 languages. To turn on VoiceOver on Apple Watch:

  1. Tap on the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. On the My Watch tab, select General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.

    Apple Watch accessibility

  4. To the right of VoiceOver, tap Off.
  5. Toggle VoiceOver to the On position.

    Apple Watch voiceover

Taptic Time

When using Taptic Time with VoiceOver, you'll receive a series of distinct taps from the Apple Watch's Taptic Engine to tell you the time. Just double-tap the wearable device display to feel hours and minutes, or triple-tap with one finger to feel the minutes. To use Taptic Time:

  1. Make sure VoiceOver has been turned on for Apple Watch.
  2. On the VoiceOver page (see above), tap Off to the right of Taptic Time to turn it on.
  3. On the next page, toggle Enable Taptic Time.

    Taptic time

  4. Select the taptic style you'd like to use: digits, terse, and Morse code. Tap Preview to test each method.

With Digits, when you double-tap the screen, Apple Watch will long tap for every ten hours, and short tap for each following hour. Then, it will long tap for every ten minutes, and short tap for each following minute.

Using Terse, a double-tap on the screen will cause Apple Watch to long tap for every five hours, then short-tap for the remaining hours. You'll then receive a long tap for each quarter hour.

Finally, when you double-tap the screen and Morse Code is set, the Apple Watch will tap each digital of the time using that code.

Using VoiceOver

When you tap on Apple Watch, you'll now hear more about what's happening on the screen. Double-tab to perform an action.

For example, if you tap on the Exercise app, Siri will say "Workout." By double-tapping the same icon, you'll be given a choice of the options within that app.

Use Screen Curtain with VoiceOver

Across Apple devices, you can use the Screen Curtain, which allows you to turn off the display for added privacy. To use Screen Curtain on Apple Watch (or any device), you must first enable VoiceOver.

  1. With VoiceOver activated, tap the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap General > Accessibility > VoiceOver.
  3. Toggle Screen Curtain.

    Apple Watch screen curtain

From now on, your Apple Watch display is off. You can only use the wearable device by listening to VoiceOver. Untoggle Screen Curtain to turn the feature off.

How to use Font Adjustment on Apple Watch

You can activate Larger Dynamic Type to increase the text size on Apple Watch on apps such as Mail, Messages, and Settings. There's also the ability to Bold Text across all built-in apps.

To change the font size:

  1. Tap on the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. On the My Watch tab, select Brightness & Text Size. You can adjust both settings of your Apple Watch on this screen.
  3. Toggle Bold Text if you'd like; if you do, you'll be asked to reboot your watch.

    Apple Watch change brightness and text size

Using Zoom on Apple Watch

With Zoom activated, Apple Watch has a built-in magnifier that you can use wherever you are on the device. Use the Digital Crown to move across the screen by rows or use two fingers to move around the screen.

To turn Zoom on:

  1. Tap on the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. On the My Watch tab, select General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.

    Apple Watch accessibility

  4. Toggle Zoom to turn it on.
  5. On the Zoom page, you can adjust set the maximum zoom level up to 15x.

    Apple Watch zoom

Grayscale and Apple Watch

When you activate Grayscale, the filter is shown system-wide on Apple Watch.

To turn Grayscale on:

  1. Tap on the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. On the My Watch tab, select General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.
  4. Toggle Grayscale to the On position.

    Apple Watch Grayscale

How to reduce motion and transparency on Apple Watch

You can reduce screen motion and transparency on Apple Watch. In doing so, the movement of icons on the wearable device's Home screen is more straightforward and more directly associated with your navigation gestures, and contrast is increased on the screen.

To turn these on/off:

  1. Tap on the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. On the My Watch tab, select General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.
  4. Toggle Reduce Motion and Reduce Transparency.

    Apple Watch reduce transparency

Using On/Off labels on Apple Watch

To make it easier to see whether a setting is on or off, you can have Apple Watch show an additional label on the on/off switches. This label looks like a vertical line.

To turn this setting on or off:

  1. Tap on the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. On the My Watch tab, select General.
  3. Tap Accessibility.
  4. Toggle On/Off Labels.

    Apple Watch labels

Great Apple Watch accessories

Are you looking for something new for your Apple Watch? Take a look at these great accessories.

Apple MFi Certified Portable Charger ($39 at Amazon)

Recharge your Apple Watch on the go with this stylish portable charger from Oittm. Includes a built-in rechargeable 700mAh polymer battery.

Moretek Holder Dock ($12 at Amazon)

Use this low-priced Apple Watch holder to protect your investment during travel. It's considered crush proof.

Questions?

Did you have any trouble using any of these accessibility settings? Give us a shout in the comments with your questions and thoughts!

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