Mike's Cheatsheet for using VoiceOver
on iPad, iPhone, & iPod Touch (iOS devices)

 by Mike Matvy, DyslexiaTech.com 10/31/16


VoiceOver on the iOS devices is easy to use when you know the basic commands. This sheet gives those commands and gives some suggestions to help you get started.

Before you start using VoiceOver (VO), set the Triple-Click Home to VoiceOver. There are two reasons for starting this way: (1) When you turn VO on, it changes the way you control the device and you can quickly get stuck if you forget how to get back to where you turn it off. The triple click will let you turn VO off and get back to standard controls. (2) For students with Dyslexia (or LD in reading), we will train them to be moving back an forth between standard gestures and VO gestures, and the Triple-Click will be the way to do that. With standard gestures on, students will move to pages rapidly when visual reading is little needed. With VO gestures on, students will read rapidly and effortlessly aurally but move to pages more slowly, or go back to standard gestures to move through pages.

Using this hybrid approach most users can get started by relying on standard gestures and a few VO gestures for reading. Most users will not need to learn all of the VO commands but over time they will learn more VO gestures for commands that let them read text more easily and more quickly.

Troubleshooting VO

At times you might make an unintentional gesture (or command) that turns a VO function on or off and messes up the device because you don't know what is happening. When this happens do the following to see if an inadvertent command (or gesture) was made (or if you have any other problems with VO): (1) go back and review the commands on this cheat sheet, (2) go to the PDF file cited below and read Chapter 21 on VO, (3) call or email me with a description of the problem, (4) go to the Apple Support Forums (https://discussions.apple.com/index.jspa), search for a post on the problem, or post a question to the forum, or (5) Email Apple Accessibility This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your question, Note: Apple phone support is great for the standard functions for your Apple device, but using the VO functions is so specialized that the Apple support people may not know as much about VO as you will.

This device will not do all the Aural Reading that your students will need if they are to become fully accommodated so their visual reading will not hold them back. For an over view of other systems for Aural Reading go to other articles on this website, or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

(The following comes from the Apple web site (see citation listed below).

Triple-Click Home to turn VoiceOver on or off

Triple-click Home is an easy way to turn some accessibility features on or off by quickly pressing the Home button three times. You can set Triple-click Home to turn VoiceOver on or off, (turn White on Black on or off, or off Turn Zoom on or off) Triple-click Home is normally turned off. To set the Triple- click Home function: In Settings, choose General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut (or Triple-click Home), then choose the function you want, in this case choose VoiceOver.

VoiceOver Gestures

When VoiceOver is turned on, it changes the gestures you use to control iPad, so that you can hear descriptions without activating buttons. These VoiceOver gestures let you move around the screen and control the individual elements that you select. Some VoiceOver gestures use two, three, or four fingers to tap or flick. For best results when using more than one finger, relax and let your fingers touch the screen with some space between them.

There are many ways to enter VoiceOver gestures. For example, you can two-finger tap by using either two fingers on one hand, or one finger on each hand. You can also use your thumbs. Try different techniques to discover what works best for you.

If your gestures don't work, try quicker movements, especially for double- tapping and flicking gestures. To flick, try quickly brushing the screen with your finger or fingers.

Practice gestures: In Settings, choose General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Practice Gestures, then tap the Practice VoiceOver Gestures button. Practice the gestures described in VoiceOver Settings, below. When you finish practicing, tap Done. Make single-finger flicking gestures quickly, to distinguish them from dragging gestures.

Here's a summary of VoiceOver gestures:

Navigate and Read:

Tap: Speak item
Flick right or left: Select the next or previous item
Flick up or down: The effect varies depending on the Rotor Control setting. See Using VoiceOver on page 143.
Two-finger tap: Stop speaking the current item
Two-finger flick up: Read all, from the top of the screen
Two-finger flick down: Read all, from the current position
Three-finger flick up or down: Scroll one page at a time
Three-finger flick right or left: Go to the next or previous page (for example, on the Home screen or in Safari)
Three-finger tap: Speak the scroll status (which page or rows are visible)
Four-finger flick up or down: Go to the first or last element on a page
Four-finger flick right or left: Go to the next or previous section (for example, on a webpage)


Select and Activate:

Double-tap:  Activate selected item
Touch an item with one finger, tap the screen with another finger:  (split-tapping)


Select and Activate:

Double-tap and hold (1 second) + standard gesture: Use a standard gesture
The double-tap and hold gesture tells iPad to interpret the subsequent gesture as standard: For example, you can double-tap and hold, and then without lifting your finger, drag your finger to slide a switch.


You can use standard gestures when VoiceOver is turned on, by double-tapping and holding your finger on the screen. A series of tones indicates that normal gestures are in force. They remain in effect until you lift your finger, then VoiceOver gestures resume.

Citation: For complete documentation on VoiceOver for iPad (iPod Touch and iPhone): (1) go to http://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/1000/MA1569/en_US/ipad_2_user_guide.pdf, (2) for iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone save the PDF file <http://support.apple.com/manuals/#ipad> , and (3) read Chapter 21 Accessibility.