taken directly from:
Submitted by Scott Davert on 19 September 2012
As with the previous release of a major iOS upgrade (from version 4 to
5), there are many enhancements to iOS 6 not directly related to
accessibility. In this release, they include FaceTime over cellular
networks, a redesigned App Store, a revamped settings menu, direct
Facebook integration, a do not disturb feature—among many others.
Please see the link at the end of this article for a list from Apple
about changes not directly related to accessibility. To list and
discuss all new features which do not pertain to accessibility is
beyond the scope of this article. Rather, this is to specifically
focus on changes with respect to the different options available from
an accessibility standpoint.Accessibility now Integrated:
A feature that many users who are transitioning between modes of
operation with iDevices will appreciate that all accessibility
features now work with one another. This includes VoiceOver and Zoom,
the physical motor settings, and the new Guided access. (More on
Guided Access later). The Triple Click Home feature also has been
updated to reflect this change. In iOS 6, you now have the following
options to be automatically activated when pressing the home button 3
times. You can now start Guided Access, VoiceOver, invert colors,
Zoom, and Assistive Touch. Any of these options can be selected and
will run at the same time. If only one option is selected, Triple
click will turn that one feature on/off just as you were able to do in
iOS 5. So, for example, if you decide to run Color Contrast and
VoiceOver at the same time, if both are selected, both will launch
when pressing the home button 3 times in rapid succession.
As mentioned above, Zoom can now run with VoiceOver which can give a
user any combination of access methods that is most comfortable for
them. For example, someone who is transitioning from magnified text to
speech may find it helpful to have both available until their comfort
level is such that they no longer need or can function with
magnification. One can also use braille, speech, and magnification if
they find this to be the most functional way of operating the iDevice.
One thing to note about using VoiceOver and Zoom together is that a
few VoiceOver gestures have changed. For example, when Zoom and
VoiceOver are working together, double tapping the screen with 3
fingers will zoom in on an item. With VoiceOver only enabled, this
gesture will mute the speech. So instead of double tapping with 3
fingers to mute speech, one must now triple tap with 3 fingers to mute
speech. This can come in handy to know if you wish to use
magnification with braille. You can still toggle the Screen Curtain on
and off, but you must tap with 3 fingers four times to do this.
Another Zoom gesture is to move around the screen by dragging 3
fingers. This author does not have vision to evaluate what happens on
the screen, but when dragging 3 fingers across it, VoiceOver gives no
verbal or indication in braille that the cursor has moved. IN fact, if
you do a single finger double tap, you will still activate the item
which has the focus of the VoiceOver cursor.
One bit of commentary about the Zoom, VoiceOver, and braille access on
at the same time is that it would be nice if there were built-in
braille and bluetooth keyboard commands for the Zoom functions. That
being said, it’s great that all of the accessibility features can be
With respect to braille, the commands used in VoiceOver all apply the
same whether Zoom is enabled or not. To my knowledge, this seems to
also be the case with the bluetooth keyboard.
VoiceOver specific changes:
There have been a few additions to the Rotor option in iOS 6. If
you’re not familiar with the rotor and it’s already existing functions
and purpose, please see www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html
and look for the appropriate section on the explanation of the rotor.
One of the settings in the rotor is an enhancement to VoiceOver. This
is the ability to adjust the amount of punctuation you will hear
spoken from VoiceOver.
Another change is the added rotor option within the Mail application
called “actions”. With this option, you can choose the default action
to open up a mail message or 1 finger flick up to Delete a message
when one is open.
Another addition to the Rotor is an option to adjust the amount of
punctuation spoken by VoiceOver. The options are none, some, and all.
While the first and third option are self explanatory, the second is
not so easy to understand at a glance. Essentially, you will have the
punctuation in tings such as web addresses, email addresses, etc read
out loud with the Some option selected, but VoiceOver will not read,
for example, a punctuation mark found at the end of a sentence.
While this is not a VoiceOver specific change, it is worth noting that
the Maps application is now able to pull up points of interest, and
according to Apple, works with turn by turn directions once a route is
planned. This is only compatible with the iPhone 4S and 5.
There is one other minor VoiceOver change. When using the onscreen
keyboard for text input, to activate the More button, or the Shift
key, you had to double tap even when in touch typing mode. You can now
single tap with one finger and these items will be activated
Finally, Assistive Touch, which was introduced in iOS 5, but which was
not usable to those using VoiceOver, is now compatible. So if a
VoiceOver wishes to set up custom gestures through Assistive Touch,
they can now do so in iOS 6.
Braille Specific Improvements:
iOS 6 has been tested and found to be compatible with the following
Braille displays which had compatibility issues in iOS 5, or were not
supported at all. The new generation of Focus displays from Freedom
Scientific, the Perkins Mini, the Braille Edge made by HIMS, and all
Braille Sense notetakers running firmware version 7, also made by
There is also a bug fix specifically related to Braille. previous
versions of iOS had a bug where when you moved to the previous or next
option (space with dots 2-3 to go back and space 5-6 to go forward, if
speech was muted, it would unmute. This has been corrected. This is
great news, especially for those attempting to browse content on
displays in quiet environments. However, unlike in iOS 5 where the
various progress beeps and clicks were disabled in VoiceOver upon the
muting of speech, they still work unless you unmute your phone.
Personally, I’d like to just have all of the sounds turned off from
VoiceOver, though I have worked with a couple of consumers who wanted
this to be an option.
Finally with respect to Braille, a new keyboard command, (Space with
I), will now launch the Item Chooser. This was a touch screen command
in iOS 5, and it now has a Braille keyboard equivalent in version 6.
Apple is now doing what they’re calling “certified hearing aids” which
will work specifically with the iPhone and iPad. This feature, like
the turn by turn directions in the Maps app, will only be supported on
the iPhone 4S and 5.
Customized vibrations have also expanded, now allowing one to not only
use customized vibrations for calls from contacts, but also text
messages. Users reported having issues setting this feature up with
VoiceOver in iOS 5, but it now will work correctly.
New Accessibility section, Learning:
Under the Learning Heading, you will now find something called Guided
Access. Guided Access allows an individual to set restrictions in apps
to eliminate the activation of the Home Button to leave an app. This
feature can assist with restricting access to only a specific app that
an individual is supposed to access. For example, in an education
setting, it may be useful for keeping students on task. If an
individual wishes to leave the app where Guided Access is activated,
they must enter a preset password to do so. Once Guided Access is
turned on, find the app you wish to restrict and press the Home Button
3 times, then select “start Guided Access”. To disable Guided Access,
press the Home Button 3 more times and then enter the 4 digit password
that was configured in the Settings/General/Accessibility/Guided
Access menu, and you will then have the option of turning off Guided
With iOS 6, it’s now possible to adjust the speed at which the home
Button will register a double or triple click. The additional options
are “Slower” and “slowest”. To figure out which will work best, when
an option is selected, the phone will vibrate to demonstrate how
quickly hitting the Home Button will be required. This, of course,
will not work on the compatible iPods and iPads, since these do not
While the list of changes in accessibility in iOS 6 is fewer than what
were found in 5, they are still significant to those users who need
such features. The ability to use all different aspects of
accessibility interchangeably iOS 6 is compatible (with limited
amounts of features), on the iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S, and 5. It’s also
compatible with the iPod 4G and 5G. And, finally, with the iPad 2 and
the latest generation of the iPad. The official iOS 6 page as
presented by Apple can be found at:
What are some of your favorite features you enjoy in this new release? Leave us a comment or two below.