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Earlier, visually impaired people had to shell out thousands of dollars for technology that can announce navigation directions, recognize their money and identify the color of their clothes. Today, you only need smartphones and a handful of apps and accessories to help you to get through your physical and online world. Most often, the mobile device of choice is the Apple iPhone. The biggest reason- ‘VoiceOver’. The screen-reading technology that describes aloud what appears onscreen, so that you can use your iPhone without seeing it.
VoiceOver tells you about each item you select and speaks its name or describes it. Touch the screen or drag your finger over it to hear about the items on the screen. When you select text, VoiceOver on your iPhone reads it for you. It also lets you know when the display changes to landscape or portrait orientation, and when the screen becomes locked or unlocked.
To enable and use VoiceOver please read: How to use VoiceOver on iPhone
You can customize and fine tune the VoiceOver options to get accustomed to how the VoiceOver works and what commands trigger which actions. Let us look at some basic VoiceOver setting and find out what do they perform and how to configure them to suit your own needs.
1. You can change how quickly the VoiceOver speaks to you. Drag the Speaking Rate slider towards the turtle icon to make the VoiceOver speak slowly, similarly drag it towards the rabbit icon to make it speak faster.
2. Using the Pitch Change settings, you can make VoiceOver speak at a higher pitch when reading the first item in a group and in a lower pitch when reading the last item in a group. In other words, this feature has the ability to intonate.
3. Verbosity is how much information is read to you. You can control whether or not the VoiceOver reads you hints or tells you that there are emojis in the text.
4. If you don’t like the voice, you can change it to a male voice, also you change to different accents as per your need, and even download a bunch more.
5. VoiceOver usually reads words phonetically and sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Or else, you might have a family member with a name that’s hard to pronounce and the VoiceOver just can’t get it. You can easily make some alteration on how the Voice Over pronounces certain words or phrases.
6. The rotor is a quick menu for VoiceOver, that you can access from any screen at any time. Twist two fingers on the screen like you’re turning a dial. VoiceOver will read out each option as you twist around the circle. Simply swipe up or down when you’re on the option you want. The swipe up or down will increase volume or speaking rate depending on the option.
7. You can change the Typing Style when VoiceOver is on, as per your need.
8. Modifier keys are the commands that you should press on a hardware keyboard to activate the VoiceOver key commands.
9. If you want VoiceOver to read out your notifications, just enable the option in the VoiceOver settings.
10. When VoiceOver is on, you have to double-tap the items instead of single-tapping like you usually would. You can extend the time between each tap in the double-tap timeout to give you more time to make that second tap.
VoiceOver is an excellent accessibility feature that many are using as a hands-free tool for various features on the phone. Specially it empowers those with the visual disability to become more independent and function on a day to day basis in a world that isn’t really setup for them.