Apple Accessibility – VoiceOver Screenreader


VoiceOver is an accessibility feature that supports people with very little sight.

With VoiceOver enabled, you can touch the screen and hear what is under your finger. The ‘iPad’ speaks back what has been selected on the screen. This could be an app, the time, battery status or an email. It can even tell you if you are in Landscape or Portrait mode.

Voiceover comes with its own set of touch screen gestures which can be used to control the device.

Native apple apps such Mail, Safari, Contacts and Notes have been designed to work well with Voiceover,

Note: The following examples assume version iOS10 or above. Screenshots may vary slightly to your screen display.

Getting started

  • Use the Accessibility settings to turn on VoiceOver. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver
  • Toggle VoiceOver on.
  • Another way is through the Accessibility shortcut. Go to General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut and select VoiceOver. Triple click the Home button to toggle Voiceover on and off.


A screenshot to show the voice over settings on an Apple device
Fig.1 VoiceOver button in Accessibility.
A screenshot showing the accessibility shortcut and voiceover option for an Apple device
Fig.2   Accessibility Shortcut – VoiceOver option.

















Key VoiceOver Touchscreen Gestures

  • With a single finger tap Voiceover tells you what is selected on the screen. Sliding your finger around the screen is a quick way to navigate through the display items
  • Flicking a single finger to the left moves you to the previous item on the screen
  • Flicking a single finger to the right moves you to the next item on the screen
  • To open a selected app double tap anywhere on the screen
  • Use 3 finger scrolls right and left or up and down to move between pages

VoiceOver Settings


  • The speech setting allows you choose between a number of default male and female voices, raise or lower the voice pitch and shape the pronunciations of selected words
  • Settings > General > Accessibility > Voiceover > Speech
A screenshot showing the voiceover options on an Apple device
Fig.3   VoiceOver speech settings showing voice, pronunciations and pitch change options.








  • Bluetooth refreshable braille keyboards are supported. With VoiceOver enabled, by default Eight-dot braille output is returned. If using contracted braille then this needs to be selected. Braille input keystrokes are also supported.
  • Settings > General > Accessibility > Voiceover > Braille
A screenshot showing the braille settings on an Apple device
Fig.4 Braille settings within Voiceover Accessibility.








  • Rotor is an on screen virtual dial that allows you to navigate through display items more easily. For example, if you are browsing a web page you may want to iterate just through the headings, links, containers or text fields.
  • To display the Rotor dial VoiceOver must be enabled. Place two fingers on the screen shaped like a dial and move them in a clockwise or anti clockwise direction. Select the dial option you need and flick up and down on the screen to move through that option you have selected.
  • Settings > General > Accessibility > Voiceover > Rotor
A screenshot showing the virtual rotor dial on the home screen of an Apple device
Fig.5  Virtual rotor dial displayed on the home screen.







Phonetic Feedback

  • With Phonetic feedback enabled, Voiceover confirms a keyboard character entered with a phonetic equivalent. For example, if the letter ‘B’ is selected VoiceOver may pronounce ‘B’ followed by ‘Bravo’.
  • Settings > General > Accessibility > Voiceover > Phonetic Feedback
A screenshot showing the phonetic feedback settings on an Apple device
Fig.6  Phonetic feedback settings displayed within   VoiceOver Accessibility.








Large Cursor

  • To further support those with degrees of residual sight, a black rectangular cursor always appears around the screen element that has focus. With this setting enabled, the cursor increases in thickness making it more visible.
  • Settings > General > Accessibility > Voiceover > Large Cursor
A screenshot showing the voiceover cursor on and Apple device
Fig.7  Increased thickness of the VoiceOver cursor displayed on the Home screen.








Please click here to read an Overview to Apple Voiceover.

Please click here to read about Vision options with Apple Accessibility.

Please click here to read about Hearing options with Apple Accessibility.

Please click here to read about Zoom Magnification with Apple Accessibility.