iPad includes an amazing screen reader along with other innovative accessibility features that make it easier to use for those who are blind or have impaired vision.
The same VoiceOver screen reader available on iPhone comes standard on iPad. It’s the world’s first gesture-based screen reader, and it allows you to enjoy the fun and simplicity of iPad even if you can’t see the screen.
With VoiceOver, you use simple gestures to physically interact with items on the screen. Instead of memorizing key commands or repeatedly pressing arrow keys to find what you’re looking for, just touch the screen to hear an item’s description, then gesture with a double-tap, drag, or flick to control iPad.
Because VoiceOver on iPad allows you to interact directly with objects, you 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 unprecedented sense of relationship and context.
VoiceOver on iPad also gives you information about your device — including battery level, network signal level, and time of day. It even lets you know when the display changes to landscape or portrait orientation and when the screen is locked or unlocked.
Adjustable speaking rate
The speaking rate in VoiceOver is adjustable so you can set it to a speed that best suits you. 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 36 languages:
- Chinese (Cantonese)
- Chinese (China)
- Chinese (Taiwan)
- English (Australia)
- English (Britain)
- English (Irish)
- English (South African)
- English (United States)
- Flemish (Belgian Dutch)
- French (Canadian)
- French (France)
- Portuguese (Brazil)
- Portuguese (Portugal)
- Spanish (Mexico)
- Spanish (Spain)
VoiceOver is built right into iPad so there's nothing extra to purchase or install. All you need is the latest version of iTunes and a Mac or PC. You can activate your iPad and enable VoiceOver without sighted assistance using Setup Assistant. Sighted users can also enable VoiceOver directly on iPad using the Accessibility menu in Settings.
How it works
With VoiceOver enabled, you’ll use a different but simple set of gestures to control iPad. 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 iPad. When you prefer privacy, you can activate a screen curtain to disable the imaging on your display.
In addition to touching and dragging around the screen, you can also flick left and right to move the VoiceOver Cursor to the next or previous item on the screen — no matter how big or small it is. By flicking, you can make precise choices about what you hear even if it’s difficult to place your finger on the item.
When you’re typing text, such as an email message or a note, VoiceOver echoes each character on the keyboard as you touch it, then again to confirm your selection. You can also enable Touch Typing, which automatically enters the last character you hear when you lift your finger. You can even set VoiceOver to speak each completed word instead of — or in addition to — individual characters as you type them. Move the insertion point cursor left or right by flicking up or down within text. With VoiceOver, you can edit a word just as easily and precisely as you can type it in the first place.
To help you type more quickly and accurately, iPad offers word prediction and spelling corrections. 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 iPad type it for you.
VoiceOver features an innovative virtual control called a rotor. Turn the rotor on by rotating two fingers on the screen as if you were turning an actual dial. This gesture changes the way VoiceOver moves through a document based on a setting you choose. For example, a flick up or down might move the cursor through text word by word. But when the character setting is selected, the same gesture will move the cursor 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.
VoiceOver works with all of the built-in applications that come on iPad, including Safari, Mail, App Store, iTunes, Music, Calendar, and Notes. And with the element labeler, you can create custom labels for buttons so it's easier to surf the web, email your friends, manage your calendar, download new apps, read books, and more. Apple is also working with iPad software developers to make even more applications VoiceOver compatible. Learn more
With the iBooks app (available as a free download), you can download, organize, and read ebooks on your iPad. iBooks is fully compatible with VoiceOver, so you can have books read aloud in any of 13 languages. And you can tailor iBooks to suit the way you read. Read in either portrait or landscape orientation. Choose larger font sizes or different fonts. It also works with the white-on-black text setting. When you want to add new books, visit the iBookstore directly from your iPad and take advantage of VoiceOver to browse the store.
Wireless braille displays
iPad includes built-in support for refreshable braille displays that use Bluetooth wireless technology. You can use them to read VoiceOver output in contracted and non-contracted braille. In addition, braille displays with input keys and other controls can be used to control iPad when VoiceOver is turned on. Learn more about supported braille displays
While many iPad applications let you zoom in and out 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 iPad using iTunes when you’re setting up iPad for yourself or someone else, or later, using the Accessibility menu in the Settings application.
Zoom works everywhere — including the Home, Lock, and Spotlight screens — even in applications that you purchase from the App Store.
With iOS 6, Zoom also works seamlessly with VoiceOver.
Here’s how it works. Double-tap with three fingers to instantly zoom in and out 200 percent. Or double-tap and drag three fingers to dynamically adjust the screen’s magnification between 100 percent and 500 percent. Even when zoomed in, you can continue using all the iPad gestures you’re familiar with — flick, pinch, tap — to run your favorite applications.
If you prefer higher contrast, you can change the display on your iPad to white on black. This reverse-video effect works in all applications and on the Home, Lock, and Spotlight screens, and it can be used with Zoom and VoiceOver.
Want to select text from websites, email, messages, and more? Speak Selection lets you highlight text in any application by double-tapping it. Even if you don't have VoiceOver enabled, Speak Selection will read you the highlighted text and give you formatting options like cut, copy, and paste. Turn on Speak Selection in Settings.
iPad includes a few, easily discernible physical buttons: the Sleep/Wake button, located on the top edge; the Side switch and volume control buttons, located on the upper-right edge; and the Home button, centered below the display.
You can increase the font size to see up to 56-point text in alerts, Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, and Notes.
iPad works with a variety of headsets, including Apple earphones and in-ear headphones that have a high-performance microphone capsule built into the cord. Control music playback or record your voice in compatible applications when you click the microphone capsule on your headset.
iPad lets you activate audio alerts for incoming and outgoing mail and calendar event requests. iPad also offers an audio option for confirming keyboard actions.
Accessible iPad User Guide
The iPad User Guide has been designed with accessibility in mind. Read the iPad User Guide in HTML format using a web browser with your favorite screen reader on a Mac, PC, and iPad. Or listen to the iPad User Guide in ePub format using VoiceOver in the iBooks app on iPad (iBooks and the user guide can be downloaded at no charge from the App Store and iBookstore, respectively). You can also read the iPad User Guide in tagged PDF format using Preview in OS X and Adobe Acrobat in Windows.