About Accessibility

Persons with reading disabilities have access to little more than 10% of the yearly book pubications. The EPUB 3 format is a one of many tools and attempts to create “born accessible” ebooks. Several best practice guidelines have already been published to help guide platform developers and publishers. Some examples are:

The Daisy Consortium is currently working on an important project called Daisy Baseline for accessible EPUB 3. It is comprized of the following efforts:

  • Developing an EPUB accessibility specification and certification for publishers.
  • Developing accessibility checking tool to assist publishers in implementing the specification for baseline accessibility.
  • Evaluating reading systems for accessibility at
  • Developing an inclusive publishing information hub on

Readium SDK and Readium.js

Readium based e-reading applications provide accessibility by facilitating the following tehcnologies

  • Text to speech/ Media Overlay : a speech synthesis system is included in the readers allowing blind people to "read"
  • Diagrams description : Speech synthesis system can precisely describe the diagrams thanks to data representation storage
  • Math ML integration : Text to speech function can read the formula which is not the case when the formula is displayed in a bitmap.
  • Customizable rendering: text spacing options for dyslexia and reading mode for color blind people


VoiceOver is a gesture-based screen reader that lets you enjoy the simplicity of iOS even if you can’t see the screen. With VoiceOver enabled, triple-click the Home button to access it wherever you are in iOS. Voice Over is an accesibility feature of Apple prodcuts. If you’re using a Multi-Touch trackpad or iOS devices, you can use VoiceOver gestures. VoiceOver provides a set of standard gestures for navigating and interacting with items on the screen. You can’t modify this set of gestures. Hear a description of everything happening on your screen, from battery level to who’s calling to which app your finger’s on. You can adjust the speaking rate and pitch to suit you.
Find out more here.


In VoiceOver mode, you can use a simple set of gestures to control your iOS device. For example, touch or drag your finger around the screen and VoiceOver tells you what’s there. Tap a button to hear a description; double-tap to activate. Swipe up or down to adjust a slider. Flick left and right to move from one app to the next. When you interact with an element on the screen, a black rectangle appears around it, so sighted users can follow along. When you prefer privacy, you can activate a screen curtain to turn off the display so no one can see it, even as you’re controlling it.

Text Input (Barcode, PIN, and Search)

VoiceOver echoes each character on the keyboard as you touch it, and again when you enter it. VoiceOver can speak each completed word. A flick up or down moves the cursor so you can edit precisely. To help you type more quickly and accurately, iOS supports multiple character input methods — including handwriting — and corrects misspelled words. Enable Speak Auto-text and you hear a sound effect and the suggested word spoken. Keep typing to ignore it, or tap the space bar to have your iOS device type it for you. Pair up an Apple Bluetooth keyboard, and VoiceOver talks you through inputting text in the same way.


1 Finger Gestures
Gesture Action
Touch or move around the screen Speaks and select the item under your finger
Tap 2 times fast Activate the selected item. (open app, press button)
Tap 2 times and hold Activates "drag-mode" (move icons, swipe-delete)
Tap 3 times fast Double presses a button (see tip below)
Swipe left or right Selects the previous or next item
Swipe up or down Preforms or move to the selected rotor option

Note: Tap 2 times on the clock in status bar to scroll to top in any app.

2 Finger Gestures
Gesture Action
Hold 1 finger & tap with another Select when dragging, activate with tap (aka split-tap)
Tap once Pause/resume speech
Tap 2 times fast Preforms special action
Tap 2 times and hold Add label to selected item
Tap 3 times Open Item Chooser for current area
Swipe up Read all from first object in selected area
Swipe down Read all from selected item
Scrub back and forth Go back, cancel, close pop-up
Pinch out/in Select/deselect
Hold and twist left or right Select the next or previous rotor item

Note: You can use the scrub gesture to split/merge keyboard when it's selected

3 Finger Gestures
Gesture Action
Tap once Speaks the current page number and position
Tap 2 times fast Toggle speech on/off (good for braille use)
Tap 3 times fast Toggle screen curtain on/off (VO works but screen is off)
Swipe left or right Move to previous or next horizontal screen/page
Swipe up or down Move/scroll down or up (like moving a paper)
Swipe up or down Move/scroll down or up (like moving a paper)

Note: To open notification center select the status bar and swipe 3 fingers down. Also 3 fingers up/down works for pulling down to refresh in many apps. (but can be a problem in some. (like Facebook side bar)

4 and 5 Finger Gestures
Gesture Action
Tap the upper half with 4 fingers Select the first item in the area
Tap the lower half with 4 fingers Select the last item in the area
Swipe left or right When in an app, switch to next or previous app
Swipe up or down Move to previous or next horizontal screen/page
Pinch in Go to home screen

Talk Back

TalkBack gestures enable you to navigate quickly on your device. There are three types of gestures in TalkBack: basic gestures, back-and-forth gestures, and L-shaped gestures. For all gestures, use a single motion, a steady speed, and even finger pressure.


Basic gestures
Action Gesture
Move to next item on screen Swipe right or down
Move to previous item on screen Swipe left or up
Select focused item Double-tap

Back-and-forth gestures
Scroll back
(if you're on a page longer than one screen)
Action Gesture
Move to first item on screen Up then down
Move to last item on screen Down then up
Scroll forward
(if you're on a page longer than one screen)
Right then left
Left then Right
Move slider up
(such as volume)
Right then left
Move slider down
(such as volume)
Left then Right

L-shaped gestures

These gestures are two-part swipes at a right angle, like the shape of the letter L. For example, the default gesture for going to the Home screen is to swipe up then left at a sharp 90-degree angle.

Action Gesture
Home button Up then left
Back button Down then left
Recent apps Left then up
Notifications Right then down
(see note below)
Open local context menu Up then right
Open global context menu Down then right

Note: The Notifications gesture (right then down) is available only in some TalkBack versions. If this gesture doesn't work for you, use a two-finger swipe down from the top of the screen to open the notifications shade.

Instructional Videos

Hadely School for the Blind iFocus instruction videos for iOS VoiceOver and Accessibility features

Other Web Resources


A community-powered website for blind and low-vision users of Apple's range of Mac computers, the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV and Apple Watch.
AppleVis strives to empower the community by offering multiple pathways to access and share relevant and useful information. As a community, we seek to encourage and support people in exploring the many ways in which these mainstream products and related applications can offer opportunities to the vision-impaired for personal enrichment, independence and empowerment.
AppleVis also offers resources and mechanisms for raising awareness of the accessibility of Apple products and related applications, and for promoting further advancement in accessibility.