[nfb-talk] New iPhone Model Now Accessible to the Blind

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Tue Jun 9 01:58:09 UTC 2009


The revolutionary iPhone also includes an equally 
revolutionary screen reader, and other innovative 
accessibility features that make it easier to use 
for those with impaired vision.


iPhone 3G S displaying VoiceOver settings. The VoiceOver and Sp

The same VoiceOver screen reader made popular on 
the Mac is now a standard feature on the iPhone 
3G S. It’s the world’s first gesture-based screen 
reader, enabling you to enjoy the fun and 
simplicity of the iPhone even if you can't see the screen.

What makes VoiceOver on iPhone truly remarkable 
is that you control it using simple gestures that 
let you physically interact with items on 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, with VoiceOver, you simply 
touch the screen to hear a description of the 
item under your finger, then gesture with a 
double-tap, drag, or flick to control the phone.

VoiceOver delivers an experience unlike any 
screen reader you've ever 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 iPhone 3G S, you'll experience something entirely new.

Because VoiceOver works with iPhone’s 
touchscreen, you interact directly with objects 
on the screen and can naturally understand their 
location and context. So, when you touch the 
upper-left corner of the screen, you'll hear 
what’s in the upper left corner of a web page, 
and as you drag your finger around the screen, 
you'll learn what’s nearby, providing an amazing 
new sense of context and relationship between the 
items you hear. For many, VoiceOver on iPhone 
will provide, perhaps for the first time, a true 
sense of how things appear on screen, not just descriptions of what they are.

You'll hear descriptions of every item on the 
screen, including status information such as 
battery level, Wi-Fi and cellular network signal 
levels, the cellular network provider, 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.

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 are 
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 21 
languages including Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese 
(China), Chinese (Taiwan), Dutch, English (US), 
English (UK), Finnish, French (Canada), French 
(France), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, 
Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), 
Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), and Swedish.

Getting started

VoiceOver is built right into the iPhone 3G S. 
There’s nothing extra to purchase or install. All 
you need is the iPhone 3G S, iTunes 8.2 or later, 
and a Mac or PC. You can activate your iPhone and 
enable VoiceOver without sighted assistance using 
iTunes with a compatible screen reader like 
VoiceOver included in Mac OS X and GW-Micro 
Window-Eyes® for Windows XP and Windows Vista 
(sold separately). When you activate iPhone using 
iTunes, you can enable VoiceOver on the iPhone to 
start using it right away. Sighted users can also 
enable VoiceOver for you directly on iPhone 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 the iPhone. 
For example, instead of tapping to click a button 
or select an item, you tap to hear a description 
of the item you touch and double-tap to click or select it.

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 phone. 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 screen­no 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 it.
Two iPhones. The iPhone in the background shows the home screen

Entering Text

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 
when you enter it. You can also have VoiceOver 
speak each completed word instead of and 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.
Two images side by side. The first shows a text-suggestion bubb

To help you type more quickly and accurately, 
iPhone 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. You can just keep typing to ignore 
it, or press the space key to have iPhone type it for you.

The Rotor

Two fingers touching a iPhone display and a counter-clockwise a

VoiceOver features an innovate new 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 will move 
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, 
tables, 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 with iPhone 3G S, such as 
Phone, iPod, iTunes, Mail, Safari, and Maps. So, 
you can place and receive calls, surf the web, 
text and email your friends, check your stocks 
and the weather, and much, much more. Apple is 
also working with iPhone software developers so 
they can make their applications VoiceOver 
<http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone//iphone/iphone-3g-s/>Learn more
Two iPhones. The iPhone in the foreground is displaying the Voi

Voice Control

In addition to gestures, you can use your voice 
to play music and make a phone call. 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, even shuffle your music.

When you want to make a call, speak the name or 
telephone number of the person you want to call. 
iPhone 3G S understands 21 different languages. 


Two iPhones. The iPhone in the background is displaying the wea

While many iPhone applications let you zoom in 
and out specific elements such as images in Mail, 
or webpage 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 iPhone 3G S using 
iTunes when you’re setting up the iPhone, for 
yourself or someone else, or later, using the 
Accessibility menu in the Settings application on the iPhone.

Zoom works everywhere, including the Home, 
Unlock, and Spotlight screens­even with 
applications you purchase from the App store.
Two iPhones. The iPhone in the background is displaying the Acc

A simple double-tap with three fingers instantly 
zooms in and out 200% and you can double-tap and 
drag three fingers to dynamically adjust the 
magnification between 100% and 500%. Even when 
zoomed, you can continue using all of the 
familiar flick, pinch, tap and other iPhone 
gestures to run your favorite applications. Zoom 
can also be used with white-on-black (reverse video) and speak auto-text.

White On Black

For those who need or prefer higher contrast, 
iPhone 3G S provides an option to change the 
display to White On Black. This reverse video 
affect works in all applications including the 
Home, Unlock, and Spotlight screens and can be used with Zoom and VoiceOver.

Speak Auto-text

When typing, iPhone 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 zoomed, for example, the 
suggestion might not be visible on screen, 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.
Callouts indicate the name and location of the physical buttons

Tactile Buttons

iPhone includes a few, easily discernible 
physical buttons used to control the phone: the 
Sleep/Wake button, located on the top edge; the 
Ring/Silent switch and 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 default font size of email text from Medium 
(the default) to Large, Extra-large, or Giant.
iPhone earbuds with clickable microphone built into the cable

iPhone Stereo Headset

iPhone comes with a stereo headset with a 
high-performance microphone built into the cable. 
Plug it into the standard 3.5 mm stereo headphone 
jack and the headset lets you control music 
playback and answer and end calls by clicking the 
built-in remote control button.

Several add-on products are also available to 
work with iPhone that can help those with hearing 
disabilities, including a hearing aid-compatible 
induction ear loop from 
wireless remote headset from <http://oticon.com/>Oticon, and others.

Hands-Free Speakerphone

Enjoy hands-free communication using the built-in 
speakerphone, which you can also use to listen to 
Visual Voicemail, music, podcasts, and video.

Audible, Visible, And Vibrating Alerts

Turn the ringer on, and iPhone delivers both 
audible and visual alerts. You can activate 
alerts for phone calls, text messages, incoming 
and sent mail, and calendar events. iPhone also 
offers an audio option confirming keyboard 
clicks. You can even set incoming calls to 
display a full-screen image or photo of the caller.

In silent mode, iPhone vibrates instead of 
playing a tone. To ensure that you never miss a 
notification, you can also have iPhone vibrate and play an audio alert.

Downloadable, Assignable Ringtones

You can assign distinctive ringtones to 
individuals in your contacts list, using the 
ringtone as an audible caller ID. Visit the 
iTunes Store to create, purchase, and download 
additional ringtones of your favorite songs (sold separately).
A visual representation of a ringtone sound wave as it might ap

User Guide In Accessible HTML

The iPhone User Guide is provided online in HTML 
format designed with accessibility in mind. You 
can read the guide using your favorite screen 
reader and web browser on your Mac and PC, and 
using Safari on the iPhone with VoiceOver.

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