How Do Blind People Use the iPhone?
There is more and more talk about the accessibility of iPhones and iPads. For blind and visually impaired people, it is one of the most accessible devices. But have you wondered how they can access it when all it has is a touch screen?
One of the great advantages of an iPhone is that accessibility features are built in, and people don't have to purchase a separate screen reader. The built in screen reader is called VoiceOver. Any time you purchase an iPhone, all you have to do is hitting the home key three times quickly to start the VoiceOver, and hit the home key three times again to turn it off.
By default, when you touch something on the screen, it becomes activated, which is not necessarily useful when you cannot see the screen. Therefore, VoiceOver adds reading functionalities to the screen. When VoiceOver is on, if you touch the screen you will hear what is under your finger, but the items do not become activated. This way, you can browse the screen with your fingers and understand the layout. When you want to activate anything, you need to double tap on it. For example, on the main screen, when you touch the calendar icon, it will say "calendar". When you tap it twice, it will open the calendar itself.
An additional feature is that you can browse the screen element by element. To do this, you flick once to the right or to the left. This way you can ensure that you reach each element.
Typing is a little complicated, and not necessarily as fast as visual typing. You can set the typing mode to two different settings. The first waits until you find the letter you want to type, hold it for a short time and release it. This way you don't accidentally type letters you don't want. The second way is locating the letter, holding it while tapping anywhere on the screen. While this is a bit slow, many people use an external keyboard when they need to do extensive typing.
There is a gesture for many other things, for example you can go to the first element by touching the top of the screen with four fingers, or to the last one by touching the bottom of the screen with four fingers.
If you want to experience it yourself, just start VoiceOver and try it out!