iPad Accessibility Tip Sheet

iPad Accessibility Tip Sheet

For Blind and Visually Impaired Users

Adaptive Services Homepage

iPad Accessibility for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Adapted from iPad User Guide for iOS 4.3 Software by Kate Sigler

You can access a list of Siri commands at applevis.com.


The iPad offers the following accessibility features:
  • VoiceOver, which is a screen reader
  • Zoom, which is screen magnification

To Set Up VoiceOver and Zoom

  1. From the Home Screen, tap “Settings”
  2. Tap “General”
  3. Tap “Accessibility”
  4. Tap “Triple-Click Home”
  5. Tap “Ask”
You can now turn on VoiceOver or Zoom by quickly pressing the “Home” button three times. This will bring up the Accessibility Options menu and you can tap the option you would like. Your options will be “Turn VoiceOver On,” “Turn Zoom On,” “Turn White on Black On” and “Cancel.”

Note: If you are only ever going to use one of the accessibility features (only VoiceOver or only Zoom), you can choose that feature in step 5. When you triple click the “Home” button, the chosen feature will be turned on.

Using Zoom

To increase/decrease magnification:
  1. Double-tap with three fingers to magnify the screen by 200 percent (default magnification).
  2. Double-tap and drag up to increase magnification.
  3. Double-tap and drag down to decrease magnification.
To navigate the screen while magnified:
  1. When you open a new screen in Zoom, it automatically shows the upper-center of the screen.
  2. To move around the screen, drag the screen with three fingers.
  3. To pan the screen, hold one finger on the edge you want to pan to.

Using VoiceOver

VoiceOver changes the set of gestures used to control the iPad. Below are basic instructions for navigating the screen, navigating the screen using the rotor, and entering text, followed by a list of all VoiceOver gestures and rotor options.

Navigate Screen (Basic):
  1. To select an item (i.e. a program on the home screen, a menu option, a link on a website) and hear what it is, move a single finger around the screen or tap on the item.
  2. To open the selected item, double tap (tap twice quickly with one finger).
  3. To move to the next or previous page, three-finger flick right or left (move three fingers quickly in either direction).
Navigate Screen Using Rotor:
The rotor is used to select how VoiceOver will move through the screen (i.e. word-by-word, character-by-character, links, headers).
  1. Place two fingers on the screen and rotate them.
  2. As fingers rotate, options will be read.
  3. Stop when you hear the option you want to use.
  4. Flick finger quickly up and down to move through the screen using the method you chose from the rotor.
Entering Text:
  1. Select an editable text field and double tap.
  2. A keyboard will automatically appear at the bottom of the screen.
  3. If the text field already contains text, VoiceOver will tell you if the insertion point is at the beginning or the end of the text. Double-tap to change the insertion point to the opposite end.
  4. There are three ways to type.
  5. a. “Touch-type” by dragging your finger to select a key, then lifting your finger to enter the character.
  6. b. “Standard-type” by flicking left or right to select a key on the keyboard, then double tapping to enter the character.
  7. c. Enter a character by dragging your finger around the keyboard to select a key, and, while holding the key with one finger, tapping the screen with another finger.
  8. Flick up or down to move the insertion point forward or backward in the text. VoiceOver makes a sound when the insertion point moves, and speaks the character that the insertion point moved across.
Below is a list of all VoiceOver gestures divided into the categories “Navigate and Read” and “Select and Activate”:
  1. Navigate and Read
    1. Tap to speak item.
    2. Flick right or left to select the next or previous item.
    3. Two-finger tap to stop speaking the current item.
    4. Two-finger flick up to read all, from the top of the screen.
    5. Two-finger flick down to read all, from the current position.
    6. Three-finger flick up or down to scroll one page at a time.
    7. Three-finger flick right or left to go to the next or previous page (for example, on the Home screen or in Safari).
    8. Three-finger tap to speak the scroll status (which page or rows are visible).
    9. Four-finger flick up or down to go to the first or last element on a page.
    10. Four-finger flick right or left to go to the next or previous section (for example, on a webpage).
  2. Select and Activate
    1. Double-tap to activate selected item.
    2. Touch an item with one finger while tapping the screen with another finger (“split-tapping”) to activate item.
    3. Double-tap and hold (1 second) + standard gesture to use a standard (non-VoiceOver) 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. A series of tones indicates that normal gestures are in force. They remain in effect until you lift your finger, then VoiceOver gestures resume.
    4. Two-finger double tap to play or pause in iPod, YouTube, or Photos. Also to start or stop the stopwatch.
    5. Three-finger double tap to mute or unmute VoiceOver.
    6. Three-finger triple tap to turn the display on or off.
Below is a list of rotor options divided by function:
  1. Reading text:
    1. Character
    2. Word
    3. Line
  2. Browsing a Web page:
    1. Character
    2. Word
    3. Line
    4. Heading
    5. Link
    6. Visited link
    7. Non-visited link
    8. In-page link
    9. Form control
    10. Table
    11. Row (when navigating a table)
    12. List
    13. Landmark
    14. Image
    15. Static text
    16. Buttons
    17. Zoom
  3. Entering text:
    1. Character
    2. Word
    3. Line
    4. Language
  4. Using a control:
    1. Character
    2. Word
    3. Line

VoiceOver Settings

VoiceOver has the following settings:
  1. Speaker Hints
  2. Speaking Rate
  3. Include Speaking Rate in Rotor
  4. Typing Feedback (to select what you hear when you type)
  5. Use Phonetics - Use this feature when you type or read character-by-character, to help make clear which characters were spoken. When Use Phonetics is turned on, Voiceover first speaks the character, then speaks a word beginning with the character. (For example, if you type the character “f,” VoiceOver speaks “f,” and then a moment later, “foxtrot.”)
  6. Use Pitch Change - VoiceOver uses a higher pitch when entering a letter, and a lower pitch when deleting a letter. VoiceOver also 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.
  7. Braille (to connect to a Braille device)
  8. Web Rotor (to select options in rotor when browsing a webpage)
  9. Language Rotor (to select options in rotor when entering text)
To change these settings:
  1. On the home screen, select "Settings" and double-tap.
  2. Select "Accessibility" and double-tap.
  3. Select "VoiceOver" and double-tap.
  4. Select a setting and double-tap to toggle on/off (Speaker Hints, Include Speaking Rate in Rotor, Use Phonetics, Use Pitch Change) or to go to that setting’s sub-menu (Typing Feedback, Braille, Web Rotor, Language Rotor).
Note: To change speaking rate, select Speaking Rate and swipe up or down to change the speed.

First Tutorial -- Google

  1. Turn on iPhone.
  2. Triple-click Home Button and Turn VoiceOver On.
  3. Make sure volume is up (on left side of phone).
  4. Move your finger around the screen to hear the icons vocalized.
  5. Choose Safari.
  6. When it says “double-tap to open,” double-tap anywhere on screen.
  7. Safari has an address field, a search field and then the Web page. Flick right three times until it says “Google, search field, double tap to edit”
  8. Double-tap to edit.
  9. If it says anything other than “Google search field is editing,” flick left to the top of screen and go to #8 (Flick right three times until it says, “Google…”).
  10. Double-tap to edit
  11. Enter “NLS library” into the edit box by searching for the letters or flicking left or right and lifting your finger to enter a letter (the keyboard covers the bottom of the screen).
  12. When you have “NLS library,” go to the bottom right of the keyboard and double-tap the Search button.
  13. Move your finger to the top of the screen and start flicking right down the page until you get to “home page of the national library service” and double-tap to open.
  14. Flick left to top of page.

Second Tutorial

  1. Turn on iPhone.
  2. Triple-click Home Button and Turn VoiceOver On.
  3. Make sure volume is up (on left side of phone).
  4. Move your finger around the screen to hear the icons vocalized.
  5. Choose YouTube.
  6. Double-tap to open.
  7. Double-tap to edit.
  8. Use the same key entry method to search for “Marvin Gaye.”
  9. Flick right and left to choose a video and double-tap to play.
  10. After video has played, flick left to top of page and hit Search button.
  11. Repeat search.