VoiceOver 101: How to use VoiceOver for Typing

There are times when visually impaired students benefit from audio input and output when typing documents, as it provides feedback that can alert them to what letter that they had just typed, what word they had written and if it was spelled correctly, and whether the sentence that they had just typed flowed correctly.  


Having auditory feedback when typing can benefit the student in the following ways: 

  • How audio supports academics: “The Benefits of Audio Learning Increases Focus and Listening Ability"
    • Increases Attention Span
    • Improves Critical Thinking and Comprehension
    • Increases Vocabulary and Introduces Your Child To New, More Difficult Words

Source: "How Audio Learning Can Improve Your Child's Grades" and "Typing for the Blind and Visually Impaired"


 iPad, Bluetooth Keyboard, Notes App (or a similar Word Processing app)

VoiceOver Basics

Setting up VoiceOver on an iPad or iPhone

To access VoiceOver* by Triple clicking the home button.

Settings→Accessibility→Accessibility Shortcut. Set Triple Click Home Button for: VoiceOver

To manually turn on VoiceOver under settings

Settings→Accessibility→VoiceOver. Switch on VO.

To turn on Voice Over using Siri

Press and hold the home button for two seconds and when prompted say, "Turn on Voiceover." 

You can also use the voice command, "Hey Siri" if your device is set up that way.  Then ask Siri to "Turn on Voiceover".

To learn how to use VoiceOver Gestures with VoiceOver practice

Settings→Accessibility→VoiceOver→VoiceOver Practice. Touch the center of the screen with one finger to get started.

For older versions of iOS, use Settings→General→Accessibility 

Resource: Apple's Vision Accessibility

Practice VoiceOver Gestures

Note: Download the Gesture Worksheet here.

What do the following gestures do?

Use the following actions to write down what each gesture does.  

What do the following gestures do?

1 Finger Single Tap (Touch)




1 Finger Double Tap




1 Finger Swipe/Flick Right




1 Finger Swipe/Flick Left




1 Finger Swipe/Flick Down




1 Finger Swipe/Flick Up




2 Finger Swipe/Flick Up




2 Finger Swipe/Flick Down




2 Finger Double Tap



2 Finger Single Tap



2 Finger Scrub




Rotor Clockwise




Rotor Counter Clockwise




3 Finger Single Tap




3 Finger Double Tap




3 Finger Swipe/Flick Up




3 Finger Swipe/Flick Down




3 Finger Swipe/Flick Left




3 Finger Swipe/Flick Right




4 Finger Swipe/Flick Right



4 Finger Swipe/Flick Left




3 Finger Triple Tap




Resource: Quick Reference Guide for VoiceOver on iOS

VoiceOver Gestures Practice video tutorial:

Voiceover Gestures Practice

Once you have a good grasp on VoiceOver gestures, you can use Voiceover as a tool to assist with work creation. You can use the Notes app on an iPad (or iPhone) for writing.  VoiceOver allows the writer to hear each letter typed, each word, or each paragraph. To change the settings in this area see the rotor settings.


Select the functions that you would like to appear in the Rotor. For example: Select Containers, Headings, Links, Tables, Text Fields, Punctuation, Handwriting, etc.

While VO is on, the Rotor allows quick access to additional accessibility features. As we learned during our VO practice, Rotor can be turned clockwise and counter clockwise to navigate options. Rotor options vary depending on which app you are in. The Rotor is beneficial for quickly navigating apps and the web by moving backward or forward by links, buttons, headings, etc.

For more details on using the Rotor visit Using the Rotor on Your iOS Device and Apple's Using Rotor Settings with iOS.

Video Tutorial (Dictation):

Video Tutorial (Rotor Settings):

How to connect a Bluetooth keyboard to an iPad or IPhone

Voiceover with Bluetooth Keyboard Video Playlist (contains 18 short videos tutorials)

Video of using BT keyboard editing a document in a Word Processing app:

Keyboard Commands

Here are some simple Keyboard Commands to get you started.

Voiceover gestures for editing a document using a Bluetooth keyboard

When using the Notes app:

  • Use the up and down arrows to activate edit mode when a document is open in Notes.
  • Use Command + Up arrow to go to (move the cursor to) the top of the document.
  • Use Command + Down arrow to go to (move the cursor to) the bottom of the document..

Note: When Quick NAV is off (Press the Right and Left arrows at the same time to turn Quick Nav off or On), the user can toggle through lines of text one line at a time. With Quick Nav on you can toggle through each word of text (if set that way in the Rotor), each sentence, or characters (each letter, number, punctuation, etc.). All actions require use of the single up or down arrow on the keyboard.  

Note: To read by individual words use option plus right arrow to toggle between words.

  • Command + right arrow to move to the end of the current line. Command left arrow to move to the beginning of the current line.
  • To move down one line Press just the down arrow.
  • To edit a word within a line, use the option and right arrow or left arrow key to move between words.
  • To select a word or highlight a word within a sentence for editing, use Option +shift+right or left arrow.
  • To cut a word while editing use command X.
  • Use command V to paste a word into a sentence
  • Turn Quick Nav on by pressing the right and left arrows at the same time


For information on how to use Refreshable Braille devices with iPads, please visit https://www.applevis.com/node/1763

What other ways would you use Audio to Support student or client learning?



Read more about: Assistive Technology