Make your iOS app accessible with VoiceOver

This article first appeared in issues 213 and 215 of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

You probably know that Apple’s range of iOS devices comes with a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver. What you may not be aware of, though, is just how easy it is to make your apps accessible.

When VoiceOver is enabled, the basic gesture set changes. For example, a single tap highlights an item and speaks its name, and a double one opens or activates the item.

If you haven’t used VoiceOver before, it’s worth taking a little time to play around with it. To turn it on, tap Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver. You can assign VoiceOver to a triple-click of the Home button, which makes it easier to turn on and off. Just enable the option from Settings > General > Accessibility. Apple has some helpful advice on getting started at

An app is accessible when its user interface elements support this style of interaction. Effectively, VoiceOver users need to know four basic bits of information about each UI element: does it exist, what is it, what does it do and what happens when it’s activated?

Happily for developers (and VoiceOver users), native UIKit controls provide this information by default. Ordinarily, you won’t need to change these controls, although there may be times when you want to make slight adjustments to create an optimal user experience. If you’re creating custom controls, though, you’ll definitely need to configure the following settings through the interface developer.

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