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iPad: Accessibility - VoiceOver

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If required, please turn on your screen reader to have the contents of this page read out to you. 

For more information on Screen Readers please go to the Home page. Here you will find links to some of the most popular Screen Reader applications.

If VoiceOver has not been enabled and you are visually impaired ask a sighted person to turn this on, by going to Settings, General, Accessibility then VoiceOver and move the on/off switch to on.

Background.

The Apple iOS provides many helpful features to help users who are visually impaired, or have hearing difficulties, use the iPad as normal. Even users with physical or motor skills will find that they have been catered for, however I will concentrate mainly on features that visually impaired users will benefit from.

VoiceOver is Apple’s screen reader and will read the contents of the iPad screen to the User, in response to finger gestures on the iPad screen. You may be using VoiceOver now to read the contents of this file. Please note, you can also use Siri and Dictation to help you type, launch apps, and read calendar entries.

To access and enable or change any accessibility features you first need to select the appropriate options within the iPad system settings.

Using the application with Voiceover active.

Step 1. From the home screen navigate to the Settings application, it might not be on your home screen, it could be on page two or three or more of your available screens. Remember to move from screen to screen you need to flick right or left on the screen with three fingers. The VoiceOver narrator will announce the number of the current page.

In order to navigate to the Settings application, you will need to search from the top to the bottom of the current page, this can be achieved by flicking up with two fingers and VoiceOver will announce each application in turn, from the top of the screen to the bottom, when you hear VoiceOver say ‘Settings’, tap once on the screen with two fingers to pause VoiceOver. Alternatively, you can flick right with one finger on the current screen, to work your way through each displayed application until you hear VoiceOver announce ‘Settings.

Step 2.Once you have located the Settings application double tap with one finger anywhere on the screen, this action activates the application that Voiceover is currently focused on, which of course should be the Settings application that you have just navigated to.

VoiceOver will open the Settings application and announce the heading of the first page in this application, namely the heading ‘Settings’. The screen will be split into two, down the left hand side there is a list of the available system settings that can be changed, on the right hand side of the screen will be displayed the available options for the currently selected system setting.

Step 3. Locate the General system setting option by flicking left or right until you hear Voice over say ‘Select, General’, now double tap anywhere on the screen to open up the settings for the General option, the right hand side of the screen will now be updated to show all of your General settings. You will hear VoiceOver announce ‘Settings, heading’.

To move the focus of VoiceOver to the right hand side of the screen you can flick right repeatedly with one finger which will move you first down each item on the left hand screen, and then over to the right hand screen. Or by using the screen rota function to select Headings, once Headings has been selected you can flick up or down with one finger to move between headings on the current screen, by doing this locate the heading named ‘General’. You will now be located at the top of the right hand side of the screen with VoiceOver focused on the heading for this information.

Note, to perform a rota gesture on the iPad screen, place two finger tips on the screen and turn them just as if you were turning a knob. Each time you twist your fingers around this pretend knob, you will hear the Narrator announce something new, you will hear the following announcements, characters, words, speech rate, containers, headings, then back to characters.

What you are doing here, with the selected Rota option, is to change how VoiceOver moves around the screen when you flick up or down with one finger on the screen, or change the speech rate, if that has been selected just prior to the flick up or down gesture.

So you can move around the screen one character at a time, one word at a time, or change the speech rate, or move around the screen by one container at a time, and finally move around the screen jumping through the available headings.

A container is exactly that, it is an area on the screen that contains other items. The home screen and the dock area are containers and if you have selected containers with your rota setting, you can then move between the home area and the dock area by flicking up or down. Containers are in general larger areas that contain one or more smaller items.
   
By selecting different options with the rota you can change settings that are relevant to the current page.

Any time you hear a dull drum sound means you can travel or navigate no further in the desired direction.

Step 4. Having focused the VoiceOver narrator on the top heading at the right hand side of the screen, now work your way down this right hand list by flicking right one finger at a time, until you locate the Accessibility button, which VoiceOver will read to you. Now activate the button by double tapping anywhere on the screen with one finger. VoiceOver will update the right hand side of the screen with a list of accessibility options and announce the words Settings, heading. We will now work our way through the list of accessibility options from top to bottom.

Step 5.Locate the Accessibility heading by sliding your finger to the top right hand side of the iPad screen, you need to be about one inch or two and half centimetres from the top and two inches or five centimetres from the right hand side. Once your finger is in the right location you will hear VoiceOver announce the words, Accessibility, heading.

Step 6. Once VoiceOver is focused on the heading Accessibility, flick right with one finger until you hear VoiceOver say Vision, Heading. You are now at the top of the Accessibility option that all fall under the general heading of Vision. Flick right with one finger and you will hear VoiceOver announce the words, VoiceOver, on, then button. Now double tap with one finger and the right hand side of the screen will be updated with the available Voice over options. Unfortunately after updating the right hand side of the screen tends to move the current focus back to the left hand side of the screen, whose heading is the word, Settings. So in the next step we will first need to get VoiceOver to refocus on the right hand side of the page again, that’s the side with the heading, VoiceOver.

Step 7. Locate the VoiceOver heading by sliding your finger to the top right hand side of the iPad screen, you need to be about one inch or two and half centimetres from the top, and two inches or five centimetres from the right hand side. This will ensure you are now at the top of the VoiceOver options, flicking right with one finger will move you down the list of available options, one option at a time.

Flick right with one finger and you should hear VoiceOver take you to the VoiceOver button which should be on, it can be toggled off by double tapping with one finger. Do not do this if you are dependent on VoiceOver. Flicking right with one finger will take you through some text relating to activating some basic VoiceOver gestures.

Step 8. Flick right with one finger until you hear VoiceOver say VoiceOver Practice, button. Double tap with one finger anywhere on the screen to activate the VoiceOver practice screen. A new screen opens up where you can practice your VoiceOver gestures. Tap once in the middle of the iPad screen and you will hear say, practice VoiceOver gestures, commands and typing in this area.

If VoiceOver can interpret your finger gestures it will announce what they are. When you have finished with this practice screen, navigate to the top right hand side of the screen and locate the Done button, once you hear VoiceOver announce the words Done, button, activate this button by double tapping anywhere on the screen with one finger. This will take you back to the Settings page and VoiceOver may announce the word Notifications, this is the first of the options in the Settings list.

Step 9. Adjusting the speaking rate. To ensure that VoiceOver is focused on the VoiceOver heading, locate the VoiceOver heading by sliding your finger to the top right hand side of the iPad screen, you need to be about one inch or two and half centimetres from the top and two inches or five centimetres from the right hand side. Flick right until you hear VoiceOver announce Speak rate, a percentage figure, adjustable, swipe up or down with one finger to adjust the value. Experiment by flicking up or down with one finger in order to adjust the speaking rate. Once you have set the speaking rate to your preferred settings then flick right to go on to the next step, step 10.

Step 10. When you arrive at the ‘Speak Hints’ option VoiceOver will say the words, Speak Hints, on, double tap to toggle setting. You can turn this feature on or off by double tapping with one finger, anywhere on the screen. Turning on Speak Hints means that VoiceOver will, where possible cause  VoiceOver to provide more information, about the item that VoiceOver is currently focused on, letting you know what else you can do with any other gestures for the current item.

Step 11. Flicking right once more with one finger will take you to the, ‘Use Pitch Change’ option. Now you have VoiceOver focused on this option you can toggle its state on or off by double tapping with one finger, anywhere on the screen. If on, VoiceOver uses a higher pitch when speaking the first item of a group, (such as a list or table) and a lower pitch when speaking the last item of a group. VoiceOver also uses a higher pitch when entering a letter, and a lower pitch when deleting a letter.


Step 12. Flicking right once more with one finger will take you to the, ‘Use Sound Effects’ option. Now you have VoiceOver focused on this option you can toggle its state on or off by double tapping with one finger, anywhere on the screen. If enabled, as well as hearing speech you will hear different sound effects as you navigate around the screen.

Step 13. Flicking right once more with one finger will take you to the, ‘Speech’ option. Now you have VoiceOver focused on this option you can open the speech settings screen by double tapping with one finger, anywhere on the screen.

You will hear VoiceOver announce ‘Settings, heading’.

To move the focus of VoiceOver to the right hand side of the screen you can flick right repeatedly with one finger which will move you first down each item on the left hand screen and then over to the right hand screen. Or by using the screen rota function to select Headings, once Headings has been selected you can flick up or down with one finger to move between headings on the current screen, by doing this locate the heading named ‘Speech’. You will now be located at the top of the right hand side of the screen with VoiceOver focused on the heading for this information.

By flicking right with one finger you will be presented with two options, Default Dialect and Add New Language. Here you can select either option to change the default dialect or add a new language. If required select either of these options by double tapping with one finger, anywhere on the screen. Moving through the available dialects or languages by flicking right or left with one finger, then selecting as required.

Now exit the Speech settings page, by flicking left with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver, back button’ then double tap with one finger, anywhere on the screen to activate this button.

An easy way to exit the current screen, providing it has a ‘back button’ displayed, is to use the double scrub gesture, to activate the back button and return to the preceding page. To do this scrub left and right with two fingers anywhere on the screen.

Remember you can move between headings on the left and right hand sides of the screen by flicking up or down with one finger, providing your Rota settings is set to Headings.

Step 14. You should now be back at the VoiceOver settings page.

Note, If you are unsure if you are on the VoiceOver settings page, first ensure the Rota settings is set to Headings and flick up or down with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver Heading’.

Navigate to the Braille option by flicking right with one finger, when you have arrived at the Braille option, activate to open up the Braille options screen where you will be able to navigate through the available Braille options. Exit out of the Braille options screen by flicking left with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver, back button’ then double tap with one finger, anywhere on the screen to activate this button.

Step 15. You should now be back at the VoiceOver settings page.

Note, If you are unsure if you are on the VoiceOver settings page, first ensure the Rota settings is set to Headings and flick up or down with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver Heading’.

Navigate to the Rota option by flicking right with one finger, when you have arrived at the Rota option, activate to open up the Rota options screen where you will be able to navigate through the available Rota options. Turning options on and off as required. Exit out of the Rota options screen by flicking left with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver, back button’, then double tap with one finger, anywhere on the screen to activate this button.

Step 16. You should now be back at the VoiceOver settings page.

Note, If you are unsure if you are on the VoiceOver settings page, first ensure the Rota settings is set to Headings and flick up or down with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver Heading’.

Also, as the VoiceOver settings are shown on the right hand side of the screen, you can just tap with one finger on the right hand side of the screen to force VoiceOver to focus on this side of the screen. Depending on where your finger lands, VoiceOver will announce the VoiceOver option that your finger lands on. You can now navigate through the available options as usual by flicking left or right with one finger.

Navigate to the Typing Style option and activate.

The right hand side of the screen will display the three available typing styles for you to choose from.

Standard Typing, this is where Narrator announces the key your finger is over but will not insert that character, until you double tap with one finger to confirm the character just announced is the one you want.

Touch Typing, in this mode as soon as your finger is lifted off a key, then the key just left will insert the character shown on that key, this will be the character just announced by the Narrator. As you move your finger around the keyboard Narrator will announce each key as you pass over it, when you finally lift your finger off the screen whilst positioned on the keyboard, the associated character will be inserted into your text.

Direct Touch Typing, this is just like using an ordinary keyboard, to insert a key you must quickly tap the key and its associated character will be inserted into the text area. You can of course keep your finger on the keyboard and move it around to find the character you require. Narrator will announce each key your finger passes over, once you have located the required character you must still tap it once for the character to be inserted into your text. This is different to ordinary touch typing described above, where as soon as you lift your finger a character is inserted.

Select your desired typing style and exit this screen back to the VoiceOver settings screen.

Step 17. You should now be back at the VoiceOver settings page.

Note, If you are unsure if you are on the VoiceOver settings page, first ensure the Rota settings is set to Headings and flick up or down with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver Heading’.

Navigate to the ‘Modifier Keys’ option, then activate this option to take you to the two options available for changing the modifier keys when you have a keyboard attached to the iPad. The two options available are ‘Control plus Option’ or ‘Caps Lock’ Keys. Change your settings if required and exit out of the Modifier Keys options screen, by flicking left with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver, back button’ then double tap with one finger, anywhere on the screen to activate this button. Alternately, you can use the double scrub gesture to activate the back button.

Step 18. You should now be back at the VoiceOver settings page.

Note, If you are unsure if you are on the VoiceOver settings page, first ensure the Rota settings is set to Headings and flick up or down with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver Heading’.

Navigate to the ‘Always Speak Notifications’ option, then double tap with one finger to toggle this setting on or off.

Step 19. You should now be back at the VoiceOver settings page.

Note, If you are unsure if you are on the VoiceOver settings page, first ensure the Rota settings is set to Headings and flick up or down with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver Heading’.

Navigate to the ‘Navigating Images’ option by flicking right with one finger, when you have arrived at the Navigating Images option, activate to open up the Navigating Images options screen where you will be able to explore through the available Navigating Images options. Turning options on and off as required. Exit out of the Navigating Images options screen by flicking left with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver, back button’, then double tap with one finger, anywhere on the screen to activate this button.

Step 20. You should now be back at the VoiceOver settings page.

Note, If you are unsure if you are on the VoiceOver settings page, first ensure the Rota settings is set to Headings and flick up or down with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver Heading’.

Navigate to the ‘Large Cursor’ option, then double tap with one finger to toggle this setting on or off.

Step 21. Navigate to the ‘Double-Tap Timeout' option, then activate this option to take you to the Double -Tap timeout and adjust as required. You can enter a specific value between 0.2 and 0.5 seconds using the keyboard, or use the increment up or down buttons to change the value in increments or decrements of 0.05 seconds. Flicking right or left on the right hand side of the current screen will let you move around the current timeout time field, and the increment and decrement buttons.

You are now at the last available options under the VoiceOver settings.

Exit out of the Double -Tap options screen by flicking left with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘VoiceOver, back button’ then double tap with one finger, anywhere on the screen to activate this button.

Now exit out of the VoiceOver settings screen by flicking left with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘Accessibility, back button’ then double tap with one finger, anywhere on the screen to activate this button.

An alternative and easy way to exit the current screen, providing it has a ‘back button’ displayed, is to use the double scrub gesture, to activate the back button and return to the preceding page. To do this scrub left and right with two fingers anywhere on the screen.

Note, If you are unsure if you are on the Accessibility settings page, first ensure the Rota settings is set to Headings and flick up or down with one finger until you hear Voiceover say, ‘Accessibility Heading’.

The next Accessibility option we will look at is the Zoom option.

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