I’m working on a research project in which I have to identify accessible hand-held technology solutions for disabled users. I was shocked to learn that two of the portable devices that I already own (iPhone & iPad) offer a host of accessibility features.
VoiceOver Is Almost Perfect
VoiceOver is Apple’s built-in screen-reader solution. I spent a bit of time using this feature and am impressed with the implementation. After about ten minutes of tinkering I was able to navigate around the iPad’s user interface as well as read web pages and e-books. When reading web pages in Safari I was able to easily alter the behavior of VoiceOver from “read the entire page” mode to “navigate the headers of a document” mode by accessing the “rotor”. The rotor is a virtual knob that is accessed by performing a dial turning gesture.
In my testing the one area where the iPad lacked good VoiceOver support is when reading PDF files. Both iBooks and the third party application GoodReader failed when attempting to navigate a PDF file. If anyone has any information on portable text-to-speech devices that can read PDF files please share your knowledge in the comments.
Here are a video of VoiceOver in action.
Users can also pair a braille display with their iOS device. Here is a video of the these two devices working together…