Below are web sites that I have found helpful in learning about my iPhone and iPad as a VoiceOver user. This content will be presented at the CNIB Calgary iOS User Group meeting on 2016/05/10.
To browse web sites on my iOS device, I use the Safari web browser. It is the default browser on Apple devices and has been included in iOS devices since the iPhone was first introduced.
A Safari tutorial is beyond the scope of this presentation but I will include tips for using VoiceOver to access the web sites I'll be discussing. I recommend that you read the user guide for your particular iDevice to learn more. For example, go to the first page of the Safari chapter in iPad User Guide or the first page of the Safari chapter in iPhone User Guide. Though this chapter of the user guide was written for sighted users, it is still beneficial to read to give you an overview of the features.
I will use an iPad Air 2 for my demo that runs iOS 9.3. The iPhone Safari app interface has a few differences but you'll find the same set of features. The gestures referenced in this article are VoiceOver (VO) gestures.
iOS Device User Guide e.g. iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV, Apple Watch
In my Best iBooks For Learning iOS With Voiceover presentation, I mentioned that the user guide for your iOS device is the first resource you should consult to learn about your device's features. I recommend reading the entire user guide and then using it as a reference (always consult the user guide first to understand a feature as Apple has designed it).
Finding the User Guide
You can read the user guide as an iBook or in Safari. To read the user guide in Safari, select the Show Bookmarks button, then select the iPad (or iPhone) User Guide bookmark. If you don’t find a bookmark, go to help.apple.com/ipad (or help.apple.com/iphone).
- To add a bookmark for the user guide (in case it was missing): select the Share button, select Add Bookmark, select the Location, select the Save button
- To add an icon for the user guide to the Home screen: select the Share button, select Add to Home Screen
Table of Contents Navigation
- To view the Table of Contents, you may need to select the Show Table of Contents checkbox located in the upper left of the user guide
- Flick right/left to move through the chapter titles in the Table of Contents. Three-finger flick up/down to move to next/previous page. Each chapter title can be expanded to view its section titles. If a section has sub-sections, it won't be a link. Double-tap any link within the Table of Contents to go to that page.
- Use the standard VO gestures to read the page e.g. flick right/left to move by a "unit"; two-finger flick up to read from beginning, two-finger flick down to read from current position
- Rotor: use Links to navigate and activate links, use Headings for overview of content
Search Within User Guide
- The Search "checkbox" is located in the upper right; double-tap to open search combo box into which you type search terms
- Search results display below combo box and include: Section or Sub-section title, Section title (if Sub-section), Chapter title
Most web pages allow you to enable Safari Reader. This causes the page to redisplay without page clutter such as advertisements and navigation link groups for easier reading and navigation. If this feature is available, you’ll find the Reader button to the right of the Bookmarks button in the left-most area of the address field. To return to the normal page view, select the Reader button again.
The user guide for your device contains a good overview of all iOS features but sometimes you’ll require more information. The Apple Support web sites should be the next resource you consult. Since you’ll have a particular topic in mind, a search is the best approach. I recommend using a single web-based search engine such as Google for all of your online searches. The reasons include:
- consistent search interface (versus having to learn how to search and navigate results on a particular Web site or with a variety of search engines)
- support articles may appear on a variety of Apple sites e.g. www.apple.com, support.apple.com
I’ll use Google to demo how I search Apple Support as follows:
- Type site:apple.com followed by a good set of search terms
- Use rotor to select Headings to browse search results
- Flick right to read link, date updated, text snippet containing search terms
- When reading support page, browse by heading; use 2-finger flick down to read from current position
I prefer using Google Search within Safari versus Siri for searching the web if I am doing serious research and think there might be several results I’ll want to explore. My reasons include:
- Siri uses the Bing search engine which is not my regular search engine.
- The search result is read as one unit i.e. I can’t read Headings separately from links, text, etc.
- If I ask Siri to "search apple.com for icloud backup", the results include other sites anyway
Phoning Apple Technical Support
If the online resources fail to answer your question, phone your local apple store to connect with a technical support representative. You will need to give your iDevice serial number which is located in Settings, General, About.
Web address: applevis.com
- AppleVis is "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."
Major Site Sections and Navigation
- Login, Register, and Submit Content links are for registered users that want to submit new content or comment on existing content
- Apps: directory of apps that are accessible to blind and low vision users; "From this page, you can browse and search our directories of iOS, OS X and Apple Watch apps; see what apps others are recommending; see which iOS apps our community has inducted into our Hall Of Fame; and check to see if there are any promotions on accessible apps."
- Forum: 11 topics; to navigate list, go to the Forum table using the rotor Tables setting, then use rotor Links setting
- Blog: browse latest posts by Heading; right navigation bar: Browse Blog Posts By Tag is a Heading and Landmark but use List rotor setting to navigate to first tag in alphabetical order e.g. Accessories, Advocacy, Apple, Apple TV
- Podcasts: contains same content as iOS Podcasts app; right navigation bar: Browse All Podcasts By Tags (similar to Browse Blog Posts By Tag)
- iOS & OS X Accessibility Bugs: links to 4 pages for Active and Fixed bug lists
- Guides: browse latest guides by Heading; right navigation bar: Browse By Tag (similar to Browse Blog Posts By Tag); this is a significant resource e.g. 101 guides have an iOS tag while 96 have a VoiceOver tag
- Accessory Reviews: browse latest reviews by Heading; right navigation bar: Browse Reviews By Category (similar to Browse Blog Posts By Tag)
- Links: link located in bottom navigation bar; navigate to via Landmarks rotor setting. Links page contains 16 categories of links to other online resources e.g. Mailing List, Podcast
- Search: located at top of page following AppleVis logo; first section on search results page is the Filter Search Results list containing each site section and number of hits; browse Search Results by Heading
Cool Blind Tech (CBT)
Web address: coolblindtech.com
- Cool Blind Tech’s tagline is "Podcasts for the blind, by the blind."
- Its mission statement is: "Cool Blind Tech strives for universal design of products, environments, programs and services to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design, not excluding assistive devices for particular groups of individuals with disabilities where this is needed. Cool Blind Tech endeavours in maximizing the independence, productivity and participation of the blind and low vision community, to empower the blindness community through the acquisition and enhancement of skills in using adaptive technologies."
- Though CBT covers a broad range of technology including Windows, Linux, and Android, Apple technology is a major focus.
Major Site Sections and Navigation
The purpose of the web site is to give you access to podcasts no longer available in the iOS Podcasts app, and allow you to find podcasts in various ways. The site sections support this and include:
- Subscribe To Podcast: links to various subscription methods
- Register: required to Submit Content
- News: text-based articles; updated infrequently
- Site sections that categorize podcasts: Shows (e.g. CSUN, VIP, Spotlight Interview), How To, Apps, Reviews, Community (submitted by community member vs CBT Team)
- Browse By Category: dropdown menu with more podcast categories e.g. Apple TV, iOS, Mac; find via setting rotor to Form Controls
- Search Site: find via setting Rotor to Form Controls
Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Web address: hadley.edu
- Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a U.S.-based non-profit corporation that is the world’s largest provider of distance education for people who are blind or visually impaired.
- On this web site you can access Seminars@Hadley, the school's free webinars for people who are blind or visually impaired and blindness service providers. They are organized into topics including Accessibility and Technology which contains the iFocus series of tips and training for iDevice users.
Major Site Sections and Navigation
- Instructional Videos: find link on Home or Resources pages; first section lists the iFocus videos grouped into categories (e.g. Navigation, Low Vision) with each video name as a link; these same videos appear on the iFocus Instructional Videos YouTube playlist
- Past Seminars: find link on Home or Seminars@Hadley pages; select Accessibility and Technology (link beneath Seminar Topics heading); audio recordings are sorted by recency, first for the iFocus series, then for the others
Tip: The video player embedded in the web page works best in full screen mode as the controls are easier to access.
VIPhone Google Group
Web address: groups.google.com/group/viphone
The VIPhone Google group was originally created for visually impaired iPhone users but now covers all of Apple's iOS devices. It mostly focuses on VoiceOver but some discussions involve other access methods such as Zoom.
- Anyone can view content. The group is also searchable.
- Anyone can apply to join. Select the Apply to Join Group button. You can request email updates (almost 2000 posts in April 2016 for 350 topics).
- Only members can post.
- Only members can view the list of members.
Tip: This group works best in a desktop web browser. In iOS Safari, the Search button is not accessible and the Apply to Join Group button does not display.