How to Enable Your iPhone’s Screen Reader

If you want to enable screen reading on your iPhone, you don’t need to go far. Since 2009, Apple has included a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver as part of its accessibility features to help people with visual impairments.

VoiceOver essentially works by describing out loud everything you see on your iPhone’s screen. Over the years, Apple has expanded the feature to include more detailed descriptions of people, objects, text, and other graphics. It also uses gestures and haptics to help users locate their iPhone without ever looking at the screen.

While this feature was developed to help blind and low vision users, VoiceOver can be helpful in other use cases as well. For example, if you like to listen to your books, you can use VoiceOver with the Kindle app. This feature can also be helpful for people with limited mobility.

To enable VoiceOver:

  • go towards Adjustment
  • tap easy use
  • below sight title, select voice over
  • tap voice over toggle to enable

Keep in mind that VoiceOver uses a different set of gestures than the standard one to control your iPhone. For example, you have to double-tap an object to interact with it. A single tap will do nothing but select an app, link, or menu button. And once you’ve turned on VoiceOver, you passed To use this new set of gestures. There is a slight learning curve, so take some time to practice before diving into it.

Thankfully, Apple includes an option to practice gestures on your iPhone. After turning on VoiceOver, you will see a new option directly below the toggle called voiceover exercises, Tap it, and then double-tap the screen to start. While you’re practicing, VoiceOver will describe what you’re doing and what each specific gesture does. When you’re finished, tap Complete Double-tap to select, and then to exit.

Turn VoiceOver on and off

There are alternative methods that let you turn VoiceOver on or off. An easy way is to pull up Siri and use the “Turn on VoiceOver” or “Turn off VoiceOver” commands.

You can also make it such that triple-clicking the Side button or Home button (depending on your iPhone model) turns the feature on or off. To do this, head Settings > Accessibility and then scroll down accessibility shortcut, From the list of accessibility features, tap voice over,

It’s the bare minimum you need to get started, but VoiceOver is a highly customizable feature. In the VoiceOver setting, you can adjust the speaking rate, choose from several different voice profiles, and manage the output to the braille display. You can also personalize a setting called “Verbosity,” which determines how much speech response you hear (i.e., how punctuation is read aloud, how links are handled, etc.). And if you’re concerned about privacy, you can also enable a feature called Screen Curtain to hide your screen when using headphones.

If you’re new to VoiceOver and looking for some additional guidance, here are some quick links from Apple’s iOS Accessibility Support guide and YouTube channel:

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