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 Brooke on Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Yup, that started for me with iOS 14 too. At the time, it was only while my phone was plugged in. Now it's constant. I've emailed the accessibility department about both issues I mentioned, then realized the email issue isn't relating to accessibility.

Submitted by John Gurd on Tuesday, September 28, 2021

I discovered this using a SmartKeyboard with the new iPad13. I wonder if it happens with all hardware keyboards. I can invoke Keyboard Help by pressing VO +K. But once on I cannot get out. Hitting the same key combo just repeats help on. Even a 2-finger scrub does nothing. Eventually I had to turn off VO and back on again to resolve it. Can anyone reproduce this?

Submitted by Brooke on Tuesday, September 28, 2021

I've always had mine set to manual, but I double-checked to make sure it hadn't been changed. The settings are the way they always have been, it's just acting strangely.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Tuesday, September 28, 2021

In reply to by Brooke

Is this about getting email even so push mail is off and is on manual? If so, I having this issue for a long time. I use google email in my iPhone mail app. I wander if is the google account?

Submitted by gailisaiah on Tuesday, September 28, 2021

I have found that still if you read a message on the Lock Screen, unlock the phone, tap the Messages App. It still says there is an unread message. But if you unlock the phone and ask Siri to read the message, the message does not say unread when tapping the Messages App.

Submitted by Brooke on Tuesday, September 28, 2021

In reply to by Holger Fiallo

That's what it's about. Mine is also a Gmail account. I wonder if people using accounts other than Google are having the same issue...

Submitted by John Lipsey on Wednesday, September 29, 2021

I haven't seen this posted in this thread, though I've not read all of the posts. Apologies if this is a duplication.
In order to reproduce this bug, you'll need to record an audio message. It doesn't seem to matter if it's in messages or FB messenger, but I notice it after both.
After you record the message and send it, back out of the message thread. Then exit the app. For a few minutes after, every time I move between apps, or within apps, VoiceOver will randomly say "handwriting, sticky note, vehicle". I've turned off image descriptions for the apps that don't need it, but this issue persists. Anybody else seeing this?

Submitted by bawtawman on Thursday, September 30, 2021

In reply to by Brooke

Hi.
I've had the same issues with mail.
I have the Iphone 8 Plus and the SE 2020, both running iOS 14.5.
Even if the mail app is set to manual, the mails get fetched automatically.
I'm not using gmail on my phones.
I went straight from iOS 12 to 14, and that was when this problem started.
On the 8 Plus, I reset my account, and it went back to normal again.
Then, I did the same on the SE, with no luck.
Another strange thing with the SE, is that I'm not able to send e-mails.
I get an error message, saying something like one of the servers does not respond. Please make sure that the account setup is correct.
I'm not sure if this is the exact wording, but something in that maner.
Anyway, everything is set up correctly.
And this happened both before and after the reset.
I don't get this message on the 8 Plus.
There's no problem sending e-mails what so ever.

Submitted by Adil Uralbaev on Thursday, September 30, 2021

Hello. I wrote about this to Apple's accessibility service and would like to post here. After updating to iOS 15, weirdness occurs with the volume of the device. For example, after I recorded a voice message in WhatsApp and Let go of my finger, the end-of-voice message sounds at maximum volume. And it also happens when sending voice messages in the Telegram app. Surprisingly, when VoiceOver is turned off, I don't see such problems.
If you want to check for this bug, do the following:
1. Launch the WhatsApp or Telegram app.
2. Try recording a voice message and sending it.
3.1. If you are sending a voice message to WhatsApp, if you release your finger, you will hear the end recording sound and the voice message send tone at maximum volume.
3.2. If you are recording a voice message in Telegram, then after you release your finger from the screen, you will notice that the message sending sound sounds at maximum volume.
4. If you listen to voice messages through the iPhone earpiece, you will notice that all notification sounds will also sound at maximum volume. You can check it like this: listen to the voice message, for example, in the WhatsApp app, then press the power key. You will hear the screen lock sound at maximum volume.
I hope that this problem, like all others, will be fixed in the next iOS releases.
i use iPhone SE (2020), iOS 15.0.
P.S. It seems to me that this problem occurs in all applications that work with voice messages. In other words, this problem occurs in applications where there is a switch from the main speaker to the spoken speaker.

Submitted by Lielle ben simon on Friday, October 1, 2021

Club AppleVis Member

Hi, I am not experience what you are described. I am experienced this when my speaker Bluetooth is connected. This is a bug that apple's doesn't care about this for a long time. I wrote to them 1 years ago, but I didn't got a respond from them.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Friday, October 1, 2021

Siri does not workwhen you are searching for a restaurant for example I ask Siri to search for Mediterranean food, I found one whic I did not like and told Siri no. Siri found another and I said yes. Siri did not say you want to call or find direction, instead Siri said That is what I thought. Did it 3 times with the sane result.

After I updated my iPhone 12 to iOs 15 Authy broke for me. I did not bother checking if Authy worked after I switched to a 13, but now after a reinstall of Authy and update to iOs 15.0.1 Authy works on my iPhone 13 mini.

I am not sure if it was the reinstall or the iOs 15.01 update that fixed it, just happy it works again!

Submitted by Missy Hoppe on Wednesday, October 6, 2021

On the whole, I'm really loving iOS 15. Everything is working great, apart from my chime app, which I have more or less given up on for now. However, I have noticed one somewhat strange issue: I never hear a sound notifying me of new incoming email. I check mail manually, so this isn't a deal breaker, but I do miss hearing a sound when I open mail and new messages have arrived. Has anyone else noticed this?

Wish I could delete my post. tried to go into edit and remove it, but it wouldn't let me. Anyway, found the instructions on how to fix my issue and it's all better now.

Submitted by gailisaiah on Friday, October 8, 2021

I decided to set up bed time and wake-up in the Health app. When my alarm went off in the morning, it was really soft even though the phone was turned up. I had chosen an alarm sound in health and before setting all this up, I had the same time already set up in the Clock app. Guess I thought my Health App set up would override the clock which was set up before this could be done in Health. Thanks for any suggestions.

Submitted by Matthew Whitaker on Friday, October 8, 2021

Hello. I'm experiencing the share sheet bug after updating from 14.7 to 15.01 yesterday on my 11 pro max. I also found an unlabeled button in the messages app... specifically when you are messaging someone in the contact card screen. Next to the "send message" button, there's an unlabeled button.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Alright, so after updating my work iPhone XR to iOS 15 and not noticing any major issue, I've decided to bite the bullet and upgrade my personal iPhone 11 as well.

I typically go the Mac route and do an encrypted backup, wipe the phone, do a clean install and then restore from the encrypted backup. One bit of good news, back when i had done this for iOS 13 or 14, when it came time to enter the password to decrypt the backup, with VoiceOver enabled, I was never able to enter the password. No matter what I tried, I couldn't enter text in the password field. Well, I'm glad to say that this issue is no more as I was successfully able to decrypt my backup.

So with that being said, I did encounter some of the common bugs, but also some odd ones as well that I'm curious to know if others can also reproduce.

For starters, when dictating text into a field, and this seems to occur regularly in the TV app, but I've also noticed this in Calendar and Messages. If you dictate text, return to a dictated word and replace a character with either the same one or another, VoiceOver no longer reads that word correctly. For example, let's say you dictate the words "Chopping Mall" (Yes, an old odd horror film from the 80s involving robots that similarly look like Johnny 5 from Short Circuit), return to the word "Mall" and replace the uppercase "M" with either an uppercase or lowercase "M" and then have VoiceOver read it, when navigating by Word, it's read as "M comma all" and if you move focus away from the field and bring it back, then VoiceOver reads the text as "Chopping M all". A friend of mine running the latest beta of iOS 15.1, running it on his iPhone 12 Pro Max is also able to reproduce this oddity.

the second issue, when opening apps like Mail, Contacts or Messages (let's use Messages first), if you open the Messages, open a conversation then completely close the app in the app switcher, then reopen it, you're brought back to the conversation you were last in instead of bringing you back to the list of conversations.

Same with Contacts as well, you open the app, open a contact's card, completely close the app and reopen it, you're brought back to that last contact's card instead of returning to the list of contacts.

Furthermore, with the stock mail app, I used to open it and it would bring me to my Gmail inbox, as I have multiple email accounts and have placed Gmail at the top, in the area where you can customize and reorder your "All Inboxes", and where you can either collapse or expand your various accounts.

Now, for some odd reason, every time I open the stock mail , it either brings me to that main area with the "All Inboxes", or recently, to my Gmail Trash folder. I'm stumped trying to figure out if this is by design or, in my personal opinion, a bug.

I don't mind it if it brings me to my All Inboxes folder, or that main area where I see all my accounts, but to have it bring me to my Gmail Trash folder, this is driving me nuts.

The last issue I've noticed fairly recently, even though I have Battery Optimization enabled, when I plug my phone in the evenings, if I woke up during the night and checked my phone I'd see some text on the lock screen, and even in the notification center, saying that Battery Optimization is on and that my phone will be done charging at a certain time.

Since updating to iOS 15 though, even on my work iPhone, I don't get this anymore and my phone no longer charges up to 80% and finish charging the remaining 20% nearer the end. Instead, it just charges all the way to 100% and stays that way until I unplug it. Has anyone else noticed this as well?

Again, not sure if these issues were previously discussed, but I thought I would bring it up in case.

Before anyone asks, I have reached out to Apple Accessibility, so here's hoping that these issues are resolved in a future update.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Tuesday, October 12, 2021

It looks like the issue with VO not reading the apps when using app switch is fix with iOS 1502. Hopeit continues. Using 12 pro.

Hi ,

Can you pls share the instructions which helped you to resolve the issue of no sound coming while getting new incoming mail. For me even while sending a mail the sound has disappeared. All my settings seem intact and even sounds are set to on in notifications. any help will be much appreciated.

Regards,
Adi