Tips for testing iOS app accessibility using VoiceOver

I really enjoy testing iOS app accessibility using VoiceOver but for newbies it can be a little tricky to get started. Here’s some testing tips:

Use VoiceOver on a real iOS device to test accessibility

You can’t use VoiceOver on the iOS simulator, which is a good thing because it relies so much upon input gestures which can be mastered using a physical device, so you’ll need to test your app on a real iOS device. If you are creating an iPhone application and don’t have access to an iPhone, you can use a cheaper iPod touch for VoiceOver accessibility testing.

Use triple click home button to enable/disable VoiceOver

The first time you use VoiceOver is quite confusing as it basically entirely changes the way the operating system behaves. You can set an Accessibility Shortcut in the Accessibility menu of iOS so that triple click home toggles VoiceOver on/off. This is good for when you get stuck and you don’t need to navigate the menus with VoiceOver on to turn it off.

Triple Click Home VoiceOver iOS7

Master the gestures

VoiceOver has completely different gestures than standard gestures so you’ll want to practice them. The most common gesture is swipe/left right to select different elements which then require a double tap to activate (a standard tap). Two finger swipe up reads all elements from top of the screen and two finger swipe down reads from the bottom of the screen. There’s a useful guide to VoiceOver gestures available on the iOS developer site.

Use Screen Curtain

If you want to test your app is truly accessible then you can close your eyes, but if you are like me and might peek, use Screen Curtain (three finger triple tap) which blanks the screen entirely but leaves VoiceOver running so you using your app without a visual display. Neat.


The best way to do iOS accessibility is to dive in and get started. If you’re like me you’ll pick it up quickly and find it fun to do.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.