VoiceOver on iOS: Getting Ready

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Welcome to the iOS VoiceOver Page.

This is the place to learn how to use your iOS device with the VoiceOver screen reader.

VoiceOver is the screen reader that comes included on all Apple iPad’s, iPhone’s, and iPod Touch’s. While VoiceOver is also available on Mac computers, its use is covered in the Mac VoiceOver Course, click the link above to go to that webpage.

As a screen reader, VoiceOver allows you to control your device, and it will read all of the items on your screen as you move the VoiceOver cursor. There are gestures that will control how you navigate, let you perform special actions on items, start and stop your audio player, answer and end phone calls, and much much more.

These pages were written under the assumption that you are using your device with the VoiceOver screen reader turned on. Ok, lets get started. The VoiceOver for iOS using Gestures course is covered in the first 8 lessons, other lessons are available or complete them all.

Intended Audience

This course was created for people who need to learn to use the VoiceOver screen reader on iOS. This includes, but is not limited to, individuals with a visual impairment, Teachers of the Visually Impaired, and parents and friends of individuals with a visual impairment.

Materials Needed

This course requires an Apple device such as the iPad or iPhone.

Course Objectives

The objective of this course is to teach the use of the VoiceOver screen reader on an iOS device.


As a screen reader, VoiceOver can read the text on your screen, however it needs to be turned on first.

There are three ways to start VoiceOver on any iOS device, please follow one of the sets of instructions below.

Activate VoiceOver with the SIRI assistant:

Press and hold the Home button on older devices, or hold the Power button on newer devices. Once you hear the SIRI audio tone which lets you know that it is listening, tell SIRI to “Turn on VoiceOver”.

Activate VoiceOver with the Accessibility Shortcut

You can also start VoiceOver by Triple Clicking the Home button on older devices, or by Triple Clicking the Power button on newer devices that doesn't have a Home button.

For this to work, the Accessibility Shortcut must be set up in: Settings/Accessibility/Accessibility Shortcut/VoiceOver.

Activate VoiceOver in the Settings App

Open the Settings App

Click the Accessibility Menu

Click the VoiceOver Menu

Turn VoiceOver On

The One Finger Swipe

VoiceOver will read the items on your screen as you move the VoiceOver cursor using the gestures you make with your fingers. To move the cursor and hear the next item on the screen, you need to Swipe to the Right with One Finger now.

To perform this gesture, you will need to touch away from the edge of the screen with one finger, and quickly slide your finger to the right about 2 to 4 inches in a smooth motion; as though you are flicking a coin across a table. Swipe Right Again Now.

Well done! That was a One Finger Right Swipe and it moved the VoiceOver cursor from the previous line, to the next line, and it read it to you. Swipe Right again.

It worked again! Ok great, as long as you keep making this gesture, VoiceOver will happily keep reading item after item until it reaches the last item and you hear a "bung" sound telling you that there is nothing else to speak. Please Swipe Right again.

That was great, you can also go backwards to hear something again by Swiping Left with One Finger. Try it out and come back, we will keep going when your ready.

iOS VoiceOver Lesson List

The first nine lessons comprise the Basic VoiceOver for iOS Course, after that you will find six more lessons you can complete in any order you wish.

Lesson 1, One Finger Gestures

Lesson 2.1, Two Finger Gestures

Lesson 2.2, The Magic Tap

Lesson 3, The Rotor Gesture

Lesson 4.1, Three and Four Finger Gestures

Lesson 4.2, How the Camel got his Hump

Lesson 5, Special Items in the iOS Interface

Lesson 6.1, Navigating the Web

Lesson 6.2, Form Controls

Lesson 6.3, Images and Video

Lesson 7, The On Screen Keyboard

Lesson 8, VoiceOver Settings

Lesson 9, SIRI

Lesson 10.1, The External Keyboard

Lesson 10.2, QuickNav

Lesson 11, Handwriting

Lesson 12, Refreshable Braille

Lesson 13, Math

Lesson 14, On-Screen Braille

Lesson 15, The Voice Memos App

When in doubt, start at the beginning:

Lesson 1, One Finger Gestures