iPod touch (4th generation) includes a screen reader and other innovative accessibility features that make it easier to use for those with impaired vision.
The same VoiceOver screen reader made popular on the Mac and the iPhone is now a standard feature on iPod touch (4th generation). It’s the world’s first gesture-based screen reader, enabling you to enjoy the fun and simplicity of iPod touch even if you can’t see the screen.
What makes VoiceOver on iPod touch remarkable is that you control it using simple gestures that let you physically interact with items on the screen. It’s easy to learn and fun to use. Instead of memorizing hundreds of keyboard commands or endlessly pressing tiny arrow keys to find what you’re looking for, just touch the screen to hear a description of the item under your finger, then gesture with a double tap, drag, or flick.
VoiceOver delivers an experience unlike any screen reader you’ve used before. Traditional screen readers describe individual elements on the screen, but struggle to communicate where each element is located or provide information about adjoining objects. This contextual information is very important but typically filtered out by other screen readers. For example, “off-screen” models used by traditional screen readers to represent applications and web pages intentionally strip away contextual information and describe web pages as a list or menu of items. But with VoiceOver on iPod touch, you’ll experience something entirely new.
Because VoiceOver works with the touchscreen, you interact directly with objects on the screen and can understand their location and context. When you touch the upper-left corner of the screen, you hear what’s in the upper-left corner of a web page. And as you drag your finger around the screen, you learn what’s nearby, providing an amazing new sense of context and relationship. You hear descriptions of every item, including status information such as battery level, Wi-Fi signal level, and time of day. iPod touch even lets you know when the display changes to landscape or portrait and when the screen is locked or unlocked. And if you are using a Bluetooth keyboard, VoiceOver allows you to control iPod touch without even touching the screen.
The speaking rate is adjustable so you can set it to a speed that best suits your listening ability. VoiceOver uses distinctive sound effects to alert you when an application opens, when the screen is updated, when a message dialog appears, and more. And when VoiceOver is talking, the volume of background sounds and music is automatically lowered, “ducking” under the voice, so you can clearly hear what VoiceOver is telling you.
It speaks your language
VoiceOver includes built-in voices that speak over 25 languages including Bahasa Indonesian, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin), Chinese (China), Chinese (Taiwan), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (U.S.), English (UK), English (Australian), Finnish, French (Canada), French (France), German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), Swedish, Thai, and Turkish.
VoiceOver is built into iPod touch (4th generation). There’s nothing extra to purchase or install. All you need is iPod touch, iTunes 10 or later, and a Mac or PC. You can activate your iPod touch and enable VoiceOver without sighted assistance using iTunes with a compatible screen reader like VoiceOver (included in OS X) or GW-Micro Window-Eyes for Windows XP and Windows Vista (sold separately). When you activate iPod touch using iTunes, you can enable VoiceOver to start using it right away. Or a sighted user can enable VoiceOver for you directly on iPod touch using the Accessibility menu in the Settings application.
How it works
With VoiceOver enabled, you’ll use a different but simple set of gestures to control iPod touch. For example, instead of tapping to activate a button, tap the button to hear a description of it, double-tap to activate it, and swipe up or down to adjust a slider.
When an item on the screen is selected, a black rectangle called the VoiceOver Cursor appears around it. The VoiceOver Cursor is displayed for the benefit of sighted users with whom you may be sharing your iPod touch. When you prefer privacy, VoiceOver includes a screen curtain that turns off the display so no one can read it without your knowledge.
In addition to touching and dragging around the screen, you can also flick left and right to move the VoiceOver Cursor precisely to the next or previous item on the screen — no matter how big or small it is. By flicking, you have precise control of what you hear even when it might otherwise be difficult to place your finger on the item.
With the Practice Gestures setting on iPod touch, you can hone your technique and learn new gestures. Or use Practice Gestures just to find out what each gesture does. You can access Practice Gestures from the VoiceOver preferences in Settings.
When you’re typing text, such as an email message or a note, VoiceOver echoes each character on the keyboard as you touch it, and again to confirm your selection. You can also have VoiceOver speak each completed word instead of or in addition to individual characters as you type them. A flick up or down while typing moves the insertion point cursor left and right within the text, so you can edit a word just as easily and precisely as typing a new word.
To help you type more quickly and accurately, iPod touch features word prediction and suggests the correct spelling when you type a word incorrectly. With Speak Auto-text enabled, you’ll hear a sound effect and the suggested word spoken automatically. Keep typing to ignore the word, or press the Space key to have iPod touch type it for you.
VoiceOver features an innovative virtual control called a rotor. Turning the rotor — by rotating two fingers on the screen as if you were turning an actual dial — changes the way VoiceOver moves through a document based on a setting you choose. For example, a flick up or down might move through text word by word. But when you choose the character setting, each time you flick up or down VoiceOver moves through the text character by character — perfect when you’re proofreading or editing text.
You can also use the rotor to navigate web pages. When you’re on a web page, the rotor contains the names of common items, such as headers, links, form elements, images, and more. You select a setting, then flick up and down to move to the previous or next occurrence of that item on the page, skipping over items in between.
Cut, Copy & Paste
Cut, copy, and paste comes to iPod touch. To bring up cut, copy, and paste options, use the rotor and choose Edit. Flick up or down to choose between the Select and Select All functions, then double tap. If you choose Select, the word closest to the insertion point is selected when you double tap. Pinch to increase or decrease the selection. If you choose Select All, the entire text is selected. When text is selected, cut, copy, and paste options appear on the screen. If you want to undo something, just give iPod touch a shake. You can also flick left or right to choose the undo action, then double tap.
VoiceOver works with all of the built-in applications that come with iPod touch, such as iPod, iTunes, Mail, Safari, and Maps. So you can surf the web, text and email your friends, check your stocks and the weather, and much, much more. Learn more
In addition to gestures, you can use your voice to play music. Just press and hold the Home button, listen for the audio prompt, and speak the name of the artist, album, or playlist you want to hear. You can pause, play, change tracks, and even shuffle your music. Learn more
While many iPod touch applications let you zoom in and out on specific elements such as images in Mail or web page columns in Safari, Zoom lets you magnify the entire screen of any application you’re using to help you see what’s on the display. Zoom can be enabled on iPod touch using iTunes when you’re setting up iPod touch for yourself or someone else, or later, using the Accessibility menu in the Settings application on iPod touch.
Zoom works everywhere, including the Home, Unlock, and Spotlight screens — even with applications you purchase from the App Store.
A simple double tap with three fingers instantly zooms in and out 200 percent, and you can double-tap and drag three fingers to adjust the magnification between 100 percent and 500 percent. Even when the screen is zoomed, you can continue using all of the familiar flick, pinch, tap, and other iPod touch gestures to run your favorite applications. Zoom can also be used with the White on Black (reverse video) and Speak Auto-text features.
Large Font Text
iPod touch includes a font size setting that lets you choose a standard or large font size. You can enable the large font in the Settings application.
For those who prefer higher contrast, iPod touch provides an option to change the display to white on black. This reverse video effect works in all applications and on the Home, Unlock, and Spotlight screens, and it can be used with Zoom and VoiceOver.
Listeners can use the triple-click Home button and set it to toggle VoiceOver or White on Black, or ask you which one.
When you’re typing, iPod touch suggests a word before you finish typing it or a correction when a word is misspelled. Speak Auto-text speaks these suggestions so you can hear them when they’re presented. When the screen is zoomed, for example, the suggestion might not be visible, but you can hear and accept it without seeing it. If you’re using VoiceOver, you won’t have to interrupt your typing and touch the suggestion to hear it. Speak Auto-text can be enabled even when you’re not using VoiceOver or Zoom.
iPod touch includes a few, easily discernible physical buttons used to control it: the Sleep/Wake button, located on the top edge; the volume control buttons, located on the upper-left edge; and the Home button, centered below the display.
Giant Fonts for Mail Messages
For improved email readability, you can increase the font size of email text from Medium (the default) to Large, Extra Large, or Giant.