Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Using VoiceOver with the iPad

The iPad has built in accessibility features to make it easier to use for people who have a vision impairment, are deaf or hard of hearing, or have a physical or learning disability. These accessibility features include monoaudio, zoom, closed captioning and white on black. For more about these features see Apple's iPad Accessibility webpage.

In particular it has VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader for the blind. Instead of memorizing keyboard commands you touch the screen to hear a description of the item under your finger.

VoiceOver is activated via Settings - General - Accessibility on the iPad or you can also activate it via iTunes when the iPad is connected via Configure - Universal Access.

Note if VoiceOver is activated you cannot use the Zoom function.

Also when Voiceover is activated it changes the gestures you use to control the iPad. some VoiceOver gestures use two three or four fingers to tap or flick.

Further below is a list of VoiceOver gestures for navigating and reading.

The following video shows how iBooks on the iPad will read a book to you using the accessibility feature VoiceOver. Note that this will not work on books that have specifically disabled this feature.




Summary of VoiceOver gestures used to navigate and read.


* Tap: Speak item.
* Flick right or left: Select the next or previous item.
* Flick up or down: The effect varies depending on the Rotor Control setting.
See “Using VoiceOver” on page 110 of the iPad User Guide.
* Two-finger tap: Stop speaking the current item.
* Two-finger flick up: Read all, from the top of the screen.
* Two-finger flick down: Read all, from the current position.
* Three-finger flick up or down: Scroll one page at a time.
* Three-finger flick right or left: Go to the next or previous page (such as the Home screen or Safari).
* Three-finger tap: Speak the scroll status (which page or rows are visible).
* Four-finger flick up or down: Go to the first or last element on a page.
* Four-finger flick right or left: Go to the next or previous section (for example, on a webpage).
* Double-tap: Activate selected item.
* Touch an item with one finger, tap the screen with another finger (“split-tapping”): Activate item.
* Double-tap and hold (1 second) + standard gesture: Use a standard gesture.
The double-tap and hold gesture tells iPad to interpret the subsequent gesture as standard. For example, you can double-tap and hold, and then without lifting your finger, drag your finger to slide a switch. You can use standard gestures when VoiceOver is turned on, by double-tapping and holding your finger on the screen. A series of tones indicates that normal gestures are in force. They remain in effect until you lift your finger, then VoiceOver gestures resume.
* Two-finger double tap: Play or pause in iPod, YouTube, Voice Memos, or Photos. Start or pause recording in Voice Memos. Start or stop the stopwatch.
* Three-finger double tap: Mute or unmute VoiceOver.
* Three-finger triple tap: Turn the display on or off.


For more information see the iPad User Guide at Apple - Spport - Manuals - iPad User Guide. To view the guide on the iPad, tap the iPad User Guide bookmark in Safari.

1 comment:

  1. Great post here! What I think Apple has done a superb job on is really making sure that accessibility requirements are built into the device at the stage of design.

    The reality is that all of us will, at some point in our lives, require accessibility options to be available to us - whether this is weak eyesight, reduced hearing or anything else. We need to make sure that this kind of 'futureproofing' happens for all of us when we conceive and design the technology in the first place.

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