The Accessibility Bugs Introduced and Resolved in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 for Blind and Low Vision Users

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 have been released to the public. This post contains details of the VoiceOver, low vision, and braille bugs which we believe have been introduced in these releases; as well as details of the pre-existing bugs which we believe to be resolved.

As is our routine practice, each new bug has been given a severity rating; these ratings are based upon what we believe to be the implications for accessing and using features and functionality and the level of impact on the overall user experience, as well as whether or not there is an effective workaround for the issue. However, as these ratings are subjective, it is very possible that they may not reflect your own opinion or use case.

As we always stress, we can make no claims on the completeness or accuracy of our testing. We have only a small team of testers, and it is simply impossible for us to test all devices, configurations, applications, and use cases; this is even more important to note now as Apple's ecosystem continues to expand and the number of possible device configurations increases. Some of the bugs listed below will be specific to a certain device, configuration or use case. Consequently, it is entirely likely that you will not encounter all of what we list; and it is also probable that you will encounter bugs or regressions that we did not identify during our testing.

We strongly recommend that you read through this post and any replies before updating—as this will allow you to make an informed decision on whether to install iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 at the current time or to wait for a future release.

To help us ensure that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible, we would appreciate feedback from those who have installed iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 —both to confirm whether they are encountering the same problems (or have found workarounds), as well as to let us know of any additional issues that are not on this list. Of course, it’s even more important that you let Apple know of any additional bugs that you find (they already know about the ones currently listed here and are actively working on resolving them). This post explains why you should report bugs directly to Apple, as well as the best ways to do so.

With all of the preamble out of the way, here are the new bugs for blind and low vision users which we believe to be present in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15:

Serious Bugs

Moderate Bugs

Minor Bugs

Additionally, we are aware of three issues that effect users of USB HID braille displays. The USB HID industry standard was announced in May 2018 with Apple being involved in its drafting, but Apple platforms may not yet officially support the standard.

Other Reported Bugs

The following bugs have not been encountered by any of our team, but we are aware of them being experienced by others:

  • VoiceOver may not speak the labels of all Actions available on the system-wide share sheet. We understand that when this occurs, VoiceOver will simply announce “activity” for the share sheet action rather than its title.
  • viphoana reports below that there is a serious issue in the Shortcuts app: “If you want to edit shortcuts using magic variables it became impossible with voice over. You can select the button to "add magic variable" but then none can be located. Adding normal variables in some actions is also impossible.”

If you encounter any additional VoiceOver, braille, or low vision bugs in iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, please let others know by posting a reply below. When doing so, please provide as much information as possible so that others know exactly what to expect; when and where the problem occurs; and any possible workarounds you have found.

Accessibility Improvements in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15

Our testing suggests that the following pre-existing accessibility bugs have been resolved or significantly addressed in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15:

If you encounter any additional fixes or improvements during your own use of iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, please let us know by posting a reply below.

Changes in Functionality or Behavior

As is common with major operating system updates, Apple has made some changes in functionality or behaviour in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. As sometimes these types of changes may not be discovered by some or can reasonably be mistaken as bugs, below are a list of the notable changes we are currently aware of:

  • One change in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 that we understand is by design rather than being a bug, is that VoiceOver will announce when a Focus mode is automatically enabled or disabled (for example at a scheduled time). This occurs even if you have speak notifications disabled and your device is asleep. If, like us, you believe that this is not the preferred or expected behavior, we would encourage you to email Apple's Accessibility Team and ask that they reconsider the current implementation.
  • A new feature on iPad is Quick Notes. Regardless of what you're doing on your iPad, you can access an existing note or a new note quickly via a number of methods - using an Apple Pencil or hardware keyboard, via the Control Center, or by mimicking the move of the Apple Pencil by swiping up from the bottom right corner. Currently, the last of these does not work with VoiceOver, but VoiceOver users can assign the “Quick Note” action to any Touch Gesture they prefer from Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Commands > Touch Gestures.
  • A nice addition to Safari is that VoiceOver users can now perform a 3-finger swipe down on the top part of a webpage to perform a page refresh.

If you know of other changes which you believe should be included here, please let us know by posting a comment below.

In Closing

We have been compiling these lists of new bugs for every major iOS release since iOS 7. In our opinion, although iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 introduce a number of new bugs for VoiceOver and braille users, they should be stable and usable updates for most use cases. One exception would be if you frequently use Apple Wallet with a selection of cards; tickets; and passes, in which case you may wish to delay updating. Reports from others in our community also indicate that the Shortcuts app has serious accessibility issues when creating or editing some shortcuts.

However, there are certain to be more issues discovered and shared; so, if you haven't already upgraded, we would strongly recommend that you take a few moments to read through any replies to this post before doing so. You may also want to consider that in recent years Apple has typically fixed a significant number of VoiceOver and braille bugs in the first couple of updates to follow major iOS and iPadOs releases.

When posting in the comments, we ask that you please keep discussion on-topic and related specifically to accessibility bugs introduced or resolved in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. In the past, our announcement posts about yearly major iOS updates usually receive a significant number of replies; making it all the more important that readers be able to quickly navigate through the comments to find the information they need. Additionally, when posting, please remember that the decision about whether or not to install a software update is personal; and that everyone's situation is different and there is no right or wrong answer. Posts criticizing others on their upgrade decisions are not constructive and do nothing to add to the discussion.

Finally, we want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Apple's Accessibility Team for their timely response to most of the bug reports filed by our team during the beta cycle. As always, it's been clear from our experience that the Accessibility Team has strived to ensure that iOS and iPadOS offer the best possible experience to blind and low vision users.

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Comments

Submitted by Lee on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hi Jo, yes I was in correct place. I have iPhone 11. However, in the end just turned off haptics for that particular element and left sounds on.

Submitted by Ann Marie B on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hi. I updated to IOS 15.0 and tried to play a voicemail using Siri and Siri stated "I can't help with that but you can ask me to open the phone app." Found this a little strange since I played voicemails using Siri in 14.8. Is anyone else experiencing this minor issue?
Ann Marie

Submitted by Jennifer W. on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

I also experienced the bug that voiceOver did not announce the selection of people and apps when attempting to set up a "work focus'. I also could not set up this focus because once I selected people and apps, I had the choice of "close" or "back', both of which took me back to the previous screen and did not save my selections. I was never able to set up times or any other features. I tried using actions, searching for a done button in the bottom right corner and elsewhere, and other tricks, but could not figure this out.

Submitted by David Lai on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

My current 1st generation iPhone SE is good, and the share sheet works fine, thankfully. So far I'm loving the background sounds feature on iOS 15.

Submitted by Yvonnezed on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

In Shortcuts, Some actions seem to be impossible to completely configure

In any case where it was previously possible to tap "show more" on a shortcuts action, this no longer seems to exist. There are a lot of actions that do this, the two I used as examples to Apple support are "delete file" and "run Shortcut". In run Shortcut, you can choose the shortcut, but not the input. In Delete file, you can't say whether you'll be prompted or not. Several 3rd party actions don't seem to be configurable at all, for example in Drafts.

I've just sent this to Accessibility, so I'm not sure if there's supposed to be a new interface for this that I'm not seeing or not.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Quick question about this: I've currently got this gesture assigned to move by heading running IOS14. I didn't quite understand a comment on the first page - if IOS15 now uses this gesture for grouping or whatever, should I reset the gesture before I update? I really don't think I wil use grouping and would much rather have this gesture to move by heading. There are precious few unassigned alternatives.

Submitted by Brooke on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

This was the bug I was most worried about, and luckily I'm not experiencing it. I did have the app switcher bug but followed the tip posted above and that one's now fixed. I really wish they had fixed the one where VO crashes after a phone call.

Submitted by jeph on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

First of all iOS 15 is good and faster than iOS 14 in my own experience. In Safari the best thing that I noticed is the address bar is now in the dock placement which is below the middle of your screen. In FaceTime some of the noticeable missing features that I’ve noticed are SharePlay, microphone toggles, and share screen. But it Will probably come in the later releases. The minor annoying thing that I have experience in this iOS version is when you enter an specific app and tap the status bar and try to use the scrub gesture to put your cursor in it’s original position,it would not work but if you are in the main screen or home screen window, it work as normal .
But the main complaint that I have on this OS is I don’t know if it’s not available yet here in our country or not available yet in iOS 15, but I don’t see an on device Siri or Siri offline and what I don’t like about this Siri iOS 15 version is it doesn’t play a song that is not saved on your Apple Music library which sucks for me because although I have my own playlists I also play other songs that are not in my playlist and I’ve primarily used Siri for that, and they remove that specific capability I just content myself on manually typing to play my desired song again and that is a bummer please Apple hopefully you put it back please let Siri play songs that are not in your on Apple Music library or playlist again please. To all Apple accessibility team members here, please forward to your bosses this wish of mine thank you.

Hi. I had the same thing happened and I fixed it. Go to notification settings, mail, customize notifications (at the bottom of mail notifications). Click on customize notifications and it will display the different mail accounts if you have more than one. Click on account and make sure you have alerts on and from there you can customize sounds and such for different accounts. Saw this and then I started getting email sounds again. It is also pretty cool because now I have 2 different tones for both email accounts. :)

Submitted by Lee on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Hi, No I wondered the same thing. Have an iPhone8 for work and iPhone11 for personal use. So I reset all gestures on the 11 to default and the two finger swipe left and right had changed to group usage. I left the 8 with my personalised two finger gesture in place to see what would happen. It stayed as my gesture with no changes and doesn't seem to have affected anything. So, you can keep the gestures you have and unless something strange happens from the X and above you should have no issues.
hth

Submitted by Jo Billard on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

In reply to by Ann Marie B

Hi. As per the email notifications, I ran into that one, too, so I went into notification settings, checked everything and discovered at the end that sounds were off. I turned them back on and now it is working normally. The confusing thing is that it says sounds are on, until you get to the end.

Submitted by Guyster on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I took the plunge this morning and updated to IOS 15. I'm on a 12 pro, and the only bug I've seen so far is the app switcher bug, and the done button missing in my apple card screen. I've worked around the app switcher bug by swiping in the other direction a couple times, and things usually start to get back on track. Over all, much better than IOS 14 was when it first came out. I wish someone could squash the speech stopping bug when a phone call ends though.

Submitted by Mister Kayne on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Yes despite of having read this blog/ article that much effort has been put to write. I bit the apple and have upgraded to IOS 15. I am getting the app. switcher bug where the application names are not being read. No problem with the apps. listed in the share sheet. In case you want you can try labelling the apps. I hope you know to do it. On number pad; the ones like entering the UPI PIN in applications like Google Pay the number is read out with a strange description i.e. 9 chalk board etc.
I am unable to return missed calls on the locked screen on how I was able to do earlier; the setting is ON for missed calls on locked screen. When I double tap the notification on the locked screen it asks for my touch ID. This setting is under Passcode and Touch ID

Yet to use the mail app. The safari address bar can be changed to the top as suggested here or else where I read. I am not going to turn off Reduce motion; what is the point really? It's a bug and a bug should be fixed the visuals of my phone don't impress me much!

Submitted by Reginald George on Thursday, September 23, 2021

On lock screen or in the notification center, It will say facebook grouped or Overcast Grouped, and read the first notification, but not the number of items in that group. Some groups might have 2 notifications, some might have 50. So this is frustrating to me. Can anyone reproduce?
Also share sheet in Music used to show the recent list of people I shared songs or albums with. Now it just has the names of the apps again like it did under 11. Again, can anyone reproduce?
Lastly I was told in the Anonomouse podcast on new features you could share a song with a specific person using Siri. I can't get this to work.

Submitted by Reginald George on Thursday, September 23, 2021

In reply to by Ann Marie B

Maybe if a person only has one account, then things work as they did. But I think this behavior of turning off sounds by default in multiple mail accounts should be documented in this post. Your solution is wonderful and worked perfectly, and now I, like you, have sounds on all three of my mail accounts.

Submitted by Claus on Thursday, September 23, 2021

æWhen the focus is in the search field in mail but you have not activate the keyboard, you cannot swipe right with one finger or rather you can swipe all you want but focus stays in the e edit field. The same seems to happen when you are on the first mail in any list of mails. Navigation is set to flat that is the same as in previous versions of iOS. the only way to get past the edit field is to touch somewhere outside the field that will move vo focus again as expected. Claus

Submitted by Jo Billard on Thursday, September 23, 2021

I am getting mail notifications and I can't figure out how to shut them off. I prefer to see my mail only when I open the mail app, and keep the notifications out.

Submitted by Kushal Solanki on Friday, September 24, 2021

I guys.
I have been beta testing IOS 15 since the first public beta came out.
The share sheet issue I think has been fixed.
That bug was in beta 5 or 6 but from what I can tell it has been fixed.

I have that same gesture assigned to the router because I don’t like the default. I updated and my custom gesture is still there by default

According to my testing of these new Facetime features, the Wide Spectrum option is only available when no devices such as earphones are connected to the phone. If devices are connected to the phone, one will only be allowed to select Standard or Voice Isolation.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Friday, September 24, 2021

When deleting text in message, VO read the letter but also says comma. For exanple I heard comma l. Is there something I can do to fix this??????

I have a friend here in Washington State complaining of the same thing. I can confirm this behavior on my work iPhone 8. The visual voicemail app is working as expected, but not when you ask Siri to play voicemail. Why would Apple deliberately remove this functionality that has been available since the beginning of Siri? I will report it to Apple Accessibility in the morning.

Music Observations:
Another Siri quirk I noticed first in 14.4 is when you tell it to add albums to music, it no longer speaks what you have just added. It only says I have added, that, to your library. Not real helpful.

Also I can not find a folder in my Apple Music library called shared with you.
This is an advertised new feature. I could be looking in the wrong place, but thought it would appear with artists, albums, playlists, downloads, and all those choices at the top of the library above recently added. Looking under edit, you can change the order, but a shared folder is not there. It would be convenient to not have to scroll through a thousand text messages to find the tracks you have received from friends. If anyone can tell me where it is I would appreciate it.

Submitted by tunmi13 on Friday, September 24, 2021

Braille: When typing on a braille display, typed entries may not be inputted. I found this problem to be a problem mostly in browsers. I am currently using a braille display to type this, and I am using the Brave web browser app, however I've found this problem to also happen in Safari. The workaround that I found is to go to the homescreen, return to the app, then double tap / Space 3 6 to reopen the text field.
VoiceOver: I have found this to be an issue in Discordeab it may be in other places too. Sometimes when opening an app, VoiceOver hangs in the status bar. Trying to do a scrub or Space 1 2 on a braille display does not work whatsoever. I'm not sure if there is a workaround, however I have found that closing the app via app switcher and reopening it does work, but not reliably.

Submitted by Stoo on Friday, September 24, 2021

As was mentioned, all be it only by one other person above, I have an issue where I delete a carachter in a text box and it keeps saying the word comma before each carachter it removes.

Also, when a notification comes through on the lock screen voiceover announces "new notification" but instead of reading out the notification it loops back and repeats "new notification" before reading the notification itself.

It's annoying to have to listen to repeated commas and a double notification announcement when there's no need and this wasn't present in IOS 14.

For clarification I have a new iPhone 13 mini which I received today which is running IOS 15 out of the box.

Submitted by Bob Cavanaugh on Saturday, September 25, 2021

I haven't seen this mentioned, but I noticed this right away after updating this afternoon. I checked my email, and wanted to delete a message. As I have Gmail, this requires a tap and hold on the archive button. Previously, this has been hit and miss, hopefully that is completely reliable in iOS15. I can't tell though, as I only had two messages and it worked flawlessly on both of those. What I did notice though is that when the context menu popped up, I got no audible feedback telling me it had appeared. I don't know if haptic feedback is provided, as I disabled all VO specific haptics when I got this phone.

Submitted by Quinton Williams on Saturday, September 25, 2021

In addition to these, I've encountered a rather strange widget bug. Even after I finish editing them on the homescreen, voiceover continues to behave as though I'm still in edit mode. When I swipe on the widget, activate is the only option available and clicking it does nothing. has anyone else experienced this? ALso, I have even had it select the wrong widget while cycling through the available widgets provided by apps.. I do not know if this is specific to the app, or is a focus glitch with vo. One more bug I wanted to add is the setup screen for apple watch is not formatted very well. WHile setting up the activity app, the area to set the move, stand and exercise goals does not read correctly or let you make any adjustments what so ever.

Submitted by Jo Billard on Saturday, September 25, 2021

A problem with Voiceover and notifications. I've noticed that if I'm on a call and a notification comes in, the name of the person I'm speaking with is announced by Voiceover and not the notification.

This is the first time I have had to use the containers option on the rotor to get somewhere I needed to go. It seems silly to have this on the now playing tab, but at least it's a way to get there and see what has been shared with me lately. Thanks for telling me where this is. I think it should at least be labeled as a heading. Everything else is. You have no way to know what to use to jump to it except trial and error. It is spoken like regular text.

Submitted by jeph on Saturday, September 25, 2021

Hello I would like to inform you that most of my petty grapes are fixed but I found some weird bug when I start did using my phone tonight, the swipe up gesture to exit out of apps keeps putting me into an edit mode state it’s annoying! Is there a way to fix this? Or should I wait for the 15.1 update? I am using iPhone 12 pro with iOS 15 here.

Submitted by bonerobot on Saturday, September 25, 2021

Hi guys,

I noticed following strange behavior of VO in the Twitter main App after upgrading to IOS 15:
Most seems normal, but when I do the three finger gesture,, to check the amount of new Tweets in my timeline, VO only says "group", and nothing else. In other Apps, the gesture is still working
I use the classic navigation and don't use this strange group navigation feature.
Can someone reproduce this issue, and could suggest a workaround or something similar?

Submitted by mr grieves on Saturday, September 25, 2021

I've been finding that the Power Off screen doesn't seem to work properly with VoiceOver if I have an open app. IE hold volume+side button, and then the screen appears. But VoiceOver is still interacting with the app in the background, even though I can see the power off slider in front of me. If I go to the home screen first, then repeat, then it works as expected/

I had a similar problem with Control Centre, where I swiped it down but VoiceOver was still interacting with the app behind it.

Submitted by Peter space capital EARL spa… on Sunday, September 26, 2021

On iPad keyboard is not reliable enough with voiceover now, nor was it when I have had voiceover issues with jumping back and forth in the email or when new email came in. Now these issues have seemed to, so far, been mostly fi. Fed for now, but I went into settings in the past to deal with this issue, and every since then I have had only partial access to the hardware Logitech keyboard I am using which, I know, is fairly old. Now since updating, it can stop in the middle of typing, and at other times it can sometimes work and sometimes not on both of my devices. This one is the iPhone 7 Plus, and I have other problems processing, coding and other processing issues and issues with gesturing and need keyboards even more for these reasons. I have also physical challenges. I am also having troubles marking email and soon as well because of these issues. I wish we had several stages of bats or trial periods for certain groups of users disabled or not to iron out these and all bugs every time a major software update comes. We need something different so this doesn’t keep happening. I hope they fix these issues and hope to get some responses and thank you and will wait to hear back; from Peter Earl Frandsen

Submitted by Reggie on Sunday, September 26, 2021

I have reported the following to Apple, but I wanted to see if others are having this.

I have my sound levels set to 100 for sound notifications and the control of sound levels tied to the volume buttons. This means when VO is on, the level of sounds like text alerts matches the volume of VO, when VO is off, the sound alerts play at the max volume. New with iOS 15, the alerts play at the max level briefly then drop to the volume setting of the device in the VO on configuration when VO starts speaking.

IN addition, some but not all apps are doing the double app identification speak process, MLB is one such app where it says, MLB, now or time since the alert was sent, then the name of the app MLB again, then the nature of the notification. This happens when the original notification alert comes in as well as wehn you scroll through the notifications screen. This is not happening with all apps, so far Weather Channel, Grubhub and ESPN have not behaved this way.

Also of note, I have not received any notifications from Apple NNews since I upgraded to 15 on Wednesday, even though the notifications for the news app are still set to on and I get notifications from CNN, NBC and CBS.

If anyone else has experiences with this, I look forward to your replies. Also, enough with the complaining about how Apple is violating your human rights. Apple still does better than any of the other manufacturers when it comes to Accessibility. AS a long time user of numerous technologies, including Windows with JAWS, a variety of windows browsers, Android and iPhone, at least here in the English speaking world of the US, Apple does the best. I obviously cannot speak to the experience of those users who don't speak my language and the reported buggs with Chinese language users are certainly not great to read about.

Submitted by Dawn 👩🏻‍🦯 on Monday, September 27, 2021

Hey, Guys!

So, I have an idea but, I'm not sure if it would be a good idea. It's for a workaround for the sharesheet bug, and, possibly the Safari mislabeled buttons bugs.

I am considering updating, especially since 15.1 is in beta now. Not because I want to test out the beta, but, because for the most part there's usually bug fixes. Plus, there's a couple features I'm chomping at the bit to try, such as focus, and quick settings.

But, would getting the names of all your apps and activities off the sharesheet, copying and pasting them to an email, or some other document, then, updating, then doing a 2-finger double-tap and hold, and just re-entering the labels be a good solution and workaround? I'm thingking about trying this, for 2 reasons.

1. I've been feeling under the weather for the last few days. So, laying in bed resting, and, this is something I can do from bed.
2. I'm not that busy this week. I only have 1 meeting this week. So, I'd have the time.

Also, is there anyone on here with Ipad 7 Gen. whose NOT experiencing the sharesheet, app switcher, and folder position bugs with VoiceOver? If there is anyone with Ipad sevens, and you aren't experiencing those bugs, then that might make me feel better about updating. But, if anyone on here has an Ipad 7, and is experiencing these bugs, then, I might wait and see what 15.1 has to offer before deciding to update.

Thanks, guys!

Submitted by cjsims on Monday, September 27, 2021

For those who have more than 1 card in their Wallet, the work around the bug is in stead of swiping through, exploring by touch means that it doesn't crash.

Submitted by Brooke on Monday, September 27, 2021

When calling someone from a number in my recent call log, focus seems to move randomly. Several times now, I've had focus on one person in the recents log, and when I double-tap, it calls someone else further down the list. For now, I'm having to either call people from their names in the contacts list, or use Siri.
Also, email is being pushed automatically even though fetch and push are both disabled, and I have it set to manual. This seems to have started when I re-enabled my email notification sound, but I'm not positive on that, need to do a bit more experimenting.

The issue affecting the Recent Calls section of the phone app has hit me several times over the last few days. You locate someone and double-tap to call them, but someone else answers <LOL>! Focus issues are bizarre in iOS 15.