The Accessibility Bugs Introduced and Resolved in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 for Blind and Low Vision Users

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 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. Accordingly, 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 14 and iPadOS 14.

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. 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.

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 14 or iPadOS 14 —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 14 and iPadOS 14:

Serious Bugs

The following issue was initially rated by us as a moderate bug. However, since the public release of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, it has become evident that the scope of this behavior is broader than our testing had suggested, and there are situations where it can cause certain web pages or areas of an app to effectively be unusable with VoiceOver. Consequently, we have revised our rating.

  • On some web pages in Safari; web views in apps; and pages in apps, you may find that VoiceOver focus will spontaneously ‘jump’ to another UI element. This behaviour does not appear to be widespread, but can make navigation difficult and confusing when it does occur. One example of this behaviour can typically be seen with Google search results when using the VoiceOver rotor to navigate by heading. Similar behaviour has also been noticed inside some apps. Our suspicion is that this is when an app uses HTML in the code that generates the page. One example of this behaviour in an app is the App Store app. In this app, if you go to the Today tab; double tap on “My Account”; and then double-tap on your name, the contents of the ‘Account’ page and many that it link to are extremely difficult to navigate due to VoiceOver focus constantly ‘jumping’.

Moderate Bugs

  • On occasions, there may be a ‘lag’ in VoiceOver speech; or your device might feel generally less responsive than it was on iOS 13. It should be noted that not all of our testers experienced this issue, and we believe the severity of the issue is likely somewhat subjective. One workaround is to switch to a VoiceOver voice that does not exhibit this behaviour, though this may take some trial and error to find a voice that works for you. A slightly more involved workaround is to add a second voice to VoiceOver's language rotor; set the voice in that secondary language to your preferred voice; then use the rotor to switch to your preferred voice in the secondary language. Our experience indicates that the latter workaround can make VoiceOver and your device more responsive, even though you are still using the same voice - just not as the "default" language. It has also been suggested that deleting and re-downloading your preferred VoiceOver voice can resolve this behavior. Another solution reported by some is to remove all activities from Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Activities.
  • When editing a typed note using a braille display, information about the text field will randomly display and cause VoiceOver to wrongly show the cursor at the top of the document.
  • The ‘Radio’ tab in the native Music app contains some graphical UI elements which are not recognized by VoiceOver and can interfere with the movement of VoiceOver focus when swiping through the contents of this tab. This behaviour may understandably have you assume that there is nothing more on this screen, when in fact there is. To fully discover everything which is accessible on this screen, we recommend that you make use of the 3 finger swipe up or down to scroll the screen contents and explore using a combination of touch, the scroll bar, and swiping. Additionally, you are likely to encounter a number of “Play” and “Schedule” buttons on this tab, where the UI element they are associated with is not recognized or spoken by VoiceOver.
  • There are a number of issues with the new widgets introduced with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. In some cases, this results in VoiceOver focus getting ‘stuck’ when swiping through widgets on the Today view or the Today view not scrolling to make all widgets accessible to VoiceOver. Also, on occasions, the VoiceOver rotor's Action menu may not be present or work as expected on stacked widgets.
  • The performance of Apple's new VoiceOver recognition features is inconsistent and unreliable, particularly that of Screen Recognition. It should be noted that these features are a work-in-progress, and your mileage may vary. As things are now, you should expect to find that there will be situations where having one or more of these features enabled will provide a worse experience than having them disabled.
  • The Detected Text feature that's part of the VoiceOver Recognition features does not work with braille displays.

Minor Bugs

  • There are situations system-wide where you will find that some VoiceOver voices will announce punctuation such as apostrophes and quotation marks when they should not be spoken. One workaround is to switch to a voice that does not exhibit this behaviour. A slightly more involved workaround is to add a second voice to VoiceOver's language rotor; set the voice in that secondary language to your preferred voice; then use the rotor to switch to your preferred voice in the secondary language. Note that it may take some trial and error to find a voice that will behave as expected for your specific region and language needs.
  • After assigning a braille display command to VoiceOver Recognition, pressing the command will not toggle the feature.
  • When using a braille display, after modifying the layout of the Home screen (such as adding or deleting an app), pressing space with dots 4-5-6 no longer functions.
  • On occasions, when editing the Today view, it is not possible to swipe to the ‘Done’ and ‘Add Widget' buttons located at the top of the screen (note that they can be located by touch).
  • On occasions, when editing the App Library screen available on iOS 14, it is not possible to swipe to the ‘Done’ button located at the top of the screen (note that it can be located by touch).
  • Using the VoiceOver Rotor to rearrange widgets can be inconsistent and unreliable. For example, when rearranging widgets on the Today View, you may find that the option to place a widget before or after another widget is not available from the rotor. This behavior appears to be present when you have lots of active widgets - more than can be visually present on screen at the same time.(
  • On occasions, the audible tone used by Safari to indicate that a webpage is loading may continue to play after the page has completed loading. This behavior appears most likely to occur if you navigate away from Safari whilst the page is loading. Even though you are no longer in Safari and the page has loaded, the tone may continue to play.
  • On occasions, VoiceOver will not announce “Control Center” when the Control Center is activated.
  • In the Translate app that's new in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, , the ‘drag’ options available from the VoiceOver rotor when on translated items do not work.
  • VoiceOver speaks “New line” when announcing the languages in the new Translate app. For example, “Spanish Spain” is spoken as “Spanish. New line. Spain.”
  • In the Translate app, there is an unlabelled UI element on the Listen screen. If you activate the ‘Listen’ button and swipe to explore the screen, you will notice a dimmed text field, a 'Close’ button, as well as an element that is not identified by VoiceOver and which does not appear to do anything when activated.
  • On iPhone or iPod touch and in the last page of a Home screen folder, performing a three-finger swipe to the left will wrongly load the App Library.
  • When navigating the App Library on iPhone or iPod touch using the Containers option from VoiceOver's rotor, the page does not scroll beyond what is currently visually on screen.
  • When running a Shortcut that prompts the user to select from a menu, VoiceOver users are unable to dismiss the menu with a gesture (something which can be done when VoiceOver is not enabled).

If you encounter any additional accessibility bugs in iOS 14 or iPadOS 14, 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 14 and iPadOS 14

Our testing suggests that the following pre-existing accessibility bugs have been resolved or partially addressed in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14:

  • Apple has continued to make improvements in regard to the consistency and reliability of behavior when both Dark Mode and Smart Invert are enabled. There are still situations system-wide where the colors used may not be optimal or consistent in behavior, but our experience suggests that these are fewer in number. The color inversion of websites in Safari also appears to be improved; and our suspicion is that in some cases where this does not work as desired, it is actually due to the website rather than iOS and iPadOS.
  • When deleting text from a text field, the audio and haptic feedback that follows each deletion is no longer that which should indicate that you have reached the start of the text field (unless you actually have).
  • When answering a phone call using the 2-finger Double-Tap ('Magic Tap') gesture, the vibrations which accompany the ringer now stop as soon as the gesture is performed.
  • When listening to an audio file in the Files app, flicking up or down on the playback scrubber control will now move the playback position.
  • You can now navigate by line when composing a message in the Mail app, although there is no audible feedback as you would expect (and is what you hear when navigating by character or word).
  • Apple has made some improvements in regard to the frequency and number of situations in which VoiceOver focus will spontaneously 'jump' to another UI element. There are still some occasions when this does happen (most notably the behavior in Safari and some apps mentioned in our list of new moderate bugs), but this issue appears to be much improved.
  • The Edit menu in VoiceOver's rotor is now more consistently and reliably present when VoiceOver focus is in a text field.
  • The Two-Finger Double-Tap ('Magic Tap') gesture once again reliably works to pause and resume audio playback in Safari.

If you encounter any additional fixes or improvements during your own use of iOS 14 or iPadOS 14, please let us know by posting a reply below.

Changes in Behavior

As is common with major operating system updates, Apple has made some changes in functionality or behaviour in iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. As sometimes changes in behavior can reasonably be mistaken as bugs, below are a list of the changes we are currently aware of:

  • When editing the Home screen, it is no longer possible to drag multiple folders at the same time or to drag an app and a folder.
  • When on the Today View, you may find that VoiceOver indicates that the Actions menu is available for some widgets when it in fact is not. This is because some third party widgets built before iOS 14 do not have any actions for VoiceOver to execute, including the Edit action.

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, iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are an improvement over iOS 13 and introduce no new serious issues for blind and low vision users. However, there are certain to be more issues discovered and shared after we post this; 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.

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 14 and iPadOS 14. In the past, our announcement posts about yearly major iOS updates usually receive well over 100 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 an individual one; and that everyone's situation is different and there is no right or wrong answer.

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 Khushi on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

hey
I decided to weight to post here but I can't figure out the reason for it.
I read a lot of blogs and I don't have a wordpress account. so naturally I have subscribed to them via my Gmail account. now when I click on read more on an email containing the post, google opens but not the link. in fact, up untill IOS 14, it always use to ask me open with and I'd choose Safari. but it no-longer asks me and opens google and nothing else. I think its a bug but not sure.
steps to reproduce:
1. make Gmail app as your default.
2. open an email containing a link.. such as an applevis blog post or any blog post from any blogger which has a link in the email.
3. double tap on the link.
google app opens for me when I do the above steps. do report back what happens for you. this bug is highly irritating if its a bug.
it might be that some settings have changed so if it is so do let me know.
thank you.
Khushi
I don't know whether I should make another forum for it so I posted here.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Wednesday, October 7, 2020

I'm not sure if anyone had brought this up, but besides having some of the typical iOS 14 issues, I've encountered one that has been around since iOS 13, maybe iOS 12.

Before in iOS 13, my ringer volume would keep lowering to some odd number, like 67% or 43%, and I began making it a habit of occasionally checking the ringer volume to make sure that it was always set to 100%. Now since iOS 14, I find myself having to check this every chance I get as I find, several times throughout the day, my ringer volume is down to 0%. I've gone through all the settings imaginable that relate to sounds, including having the volume buttons able to adjust the ringer volume (got that one turned off), to even turning off the "Attention Alert Features" under Face ID & Passcode, but still, several times a day, when checking my ringer volume, I find it's dropped to 0%.

Now I've never tried having someone call me anyway to see if, the ringer volume will indeed play loudly, or not play at all.

I've tried to figure out what exactly might be causing the volume to drop, but I haven't been able to point my finger on it.

I have mentioned this to Apple Accessibility, so at least they've been made aware, but was curious to know if others have also encountered this and perhaps found a more permanent fix.

Heck, I've even tried to create a Shortcut that I could trigger with Siri to automatically bring the ringer volume to 100%, but the only action relating to volume I found in the Shortcuts app relates to the media volume, not the ringer volume.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Submitted by Pelle on Thursday, October 8, 2020

Hi,
I totally agree with those of you who don't want the image descriptions to be forced on people with older iPhones. Well, I think this feature is a good thing, which may be of greater value in the future. But I absolutely would like to have it off by default and turn it on occasionally if I would need it.
I have written to Apple about this, and also about the issue with VoiceOver jumping to images to describe them. Apple replied and told that they are investigating this. Let's hope for the best!

I agree. The setting that most annoyed me that was turned off by default was show Siri responses. Because I'm totally blind, and also, because a lot of the time I use Siri to do web searches. So not being able to see what the search results were was kind of annoying.

Ever since iOS 13 (or maybe 12?), volume for different phone features has been incredibly hard to control. I just checked my ringer volume and it was 0%. I know very well that I set it to 60% a couple weeks ago. I notice there's now an option to control whether the physical volume buttons control the ringer volume, and I see it is set to off. This is yet another example of Apple changing the default behavior, because I used to be able to change the ringer volume with the physical volume buttons, and I wondered why that stopped working.

I often encounter another volume-related issue. When listening to music with wired earbuds, the second song to play turns down its volume slightly after the first few seconds. I've seen worse issues where the volume would suddenly jump to maximum, but haven't experienced that in a while (thankfully) so perhaps it's fixed. Fingers crossed.

SIRI responses for math questions never seem to show up on screen. Example: Ask SIRI what's 520 divided by 8. I have always show SIRI responses set to on, but still there is nothing on the screen for VoiceOver to read. Sad face.

Submitted by Siobhan on Friday, October 9, 2020

I'd rather set it and forget as it were. I don't like having control over physical buttons as sometimes I would press them. I'd also in theory, adore the hang up with lock or power button and I'd still love the power button to be up top again. I've kicked myself out a lot by accident. Ah the old days... ;)

Submitted by Patrick Hurst on Friday, October 9, 2020

As many Safari-users know, there's a clicking-sound played when a webpage is loading. Obviously, when you close a tab by triggering the context-menu on the bottom right edge of the phone, this causes the previous page to be loaded. While that process finishes more or less slowly, according to your internet connection, the clicking sound just goes on and on, even while you leave the app. It's somehow one of the funniest bugs I've had with VO so far, but there's an easy workaround:
Just do a tripple-home once to unload and another tripple-home restart VoiceOver and the clicking should be gone.

If you want Siri to display the maths questions, you first have to ask your question, then press the unlabelled button that shows up on the screen.

That will bring up your answer in the calculator.

It isn't the ideal solution, an extra step, but it does work.

Now for example, ask it how to write something like the letter s in braille and voiceover won't be able to tell you.

Strange, seeing as a sighted person would be able to see that response on the screen.

Submitted by That Blind Canuck on Saturday, October 10, 2020

The option to use the volume buttons to control the ringer volume have always been there, and if memory serves me right, this setting has always been turned on for me.

Like some, I like to max out my ringer volume and turn off the setting to use the volume buttons to control. This way, theoretically, my ringer volume wouldn't change unless I were to return into Settings and lower it myself.

But since iOS 13, the ringer volume keeps lowering by itself and I've never managed to figure out what was causing it to lower on its own.

Since iOS 14 though, it's gotten worse and I find the ringer volume, most times, is down to 0%. On some rare days, it may happen a couple of times, but on other days, it happens at least 8-10 times.

Like I said, I've searched online for any settings that could affect the ringer volume and have turned them off.

Hopefully this will be fixed in a future iOS update.

Submitted by Jeff on Saturday, October 10, 2020

In reply to by That Blind Canuck

I wonder if it has something to do with the Voiceover volume. Maybe it's a feature to make sure the ringer doesn't make Voiceover too difficult to hear. How about audio ducking? Is that turned on or off and does it make a difference?

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Saturday, October 10, 2020

In the past whenever I share a article or video, I was able to select a group of people that I already texted for example If I message 3 or 4 people if I went to apple news and share an article, I selected message and their name popup and I could select and sent it. Now I have to ad each person all the time be it articles or videos. Is this a bug? Hope someone let me know. Using 11 pro max and iOS 14.01.

I've just taken a look to make sure and the Audio Ducking feature is turned off. I usually prefer to turn this off as I'd rather prefer not to have it on.

As for the Ringer Volume to be linked up with the VoiceOver Volume, I don't think they are as my VoiceOver volume has always been at 90%, but my Ringer Volume keeps fluctuating.

I've gone to bed last night with my Ringer Volume to 100% and just checked it for the first time this morning and the Ringer Volume was down to 0%, and I haven't touched the phone once.

So I'm left stumped as to what might be causing it.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by That Blind Canuck

Yesterday I noticed VoiceOver's volume had mysteriously dropped to zero. The way I always adjust the VoiceOver volume is as follows: I go to the home screen, two-finger swipe down so VoiceOver is reading all my icons, then change the volume with the hardware buttons. This worked, and VoiceOver volume was back to normal. But it made me remember this discussion, so I went to Settings to check ringer volume, and it, too, had dropped to zero. So I set it back to 70%.

I'd love to see some of these weird volume issues resolved.

One thing I did was add the VoiceOver volume to my rotor, so I can quickly raise or lower it.

As for the ringer, like I had mentioned in the past, this used to happen back on iOS 13, but the volume percentage was never at 0%, more like some odd random number like 47% or 33%. It's only been since iOS 14 that, instead of getting some random number, I consistently see it at 0%.

As for Chris' issue with the earpiece, I too had that for a while, but after checking it today, the sound coming from the earpiece on the top of the phone seemed fine. I always just thought that the issue was caused by the other person's phone. It would be nice if the earpiece could be a tad louder though, but it was decent enough.

Perhaps Chris, you could try cleaning it with a new toothbrush? I too thought the earpiece speaker wasn't loud enough, in general, and after scrubbing it with a new toothbrush, it seemed as though it got louder.

I hope Apple is able to figure out why the volume keeps dropping to 0%. At least now it appears as though I'm not the only one that's encountering it now.

Submitted by jay on Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hello.
When using FlickType keyboard for iOS, the direct touch feature isn't activated by default. In order to activate it, you'll need to use the rotor to find direct touch and activate it. You'll need to do this every time you want to use FlickType. It's annoying, and not on this list, so thought I would add it.

Submitted by Siobhan on Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hi all. Yes, my ringer to does go down to zero percent. However here's why I am not sure it isn't a bug. For Chris, sorry I spelled it wrong, No do not disturb schedule, and i disabled screen time as I find it annoying. Also no audio ducking as again, I see no point in using it. Now I looked and instead of 100% it's at zero. However if i get a phone call, it does indeed ring at the max volume. I can't help with the lowering volume as if it sounds low i turn it up. I'm sure you who have had this issue did turn up the phone. Is anyone who has this issue using a screen protector? Maybe something was caught underneath it and no pun intended, you didn't see it? I know i haven't taken off mine on my 8+ since i got it, and i'm sure something might be stuck under it. I stil hope apple reintroduces the end call with the lock button. I'll always dislike the magic tap to end, answer, play, pause, etc. I don't know what i'll get next though I'm getting frustrated apple, especially in a pandemic, is all good with charging nearly a grand, again, for a phone. I'm not going into the lack of charger and earpods. I have a pair with the lightning connector, don't use them so they're safe.

Submitted by Dennis D on Sunday, November 15, 2020

Hello all,

Ever since I started using IOS 14 on my iPhone 11, I have had problems. Primarily with entering characters in applications like Safari, SirusXm, Youtube, and others.

Also when using applications like Youtube and SiriusXm I cannot use the applications when leaving and returning to the applications. So I need to close the applications and then reopen them.

The problem has persisted from ios 14, 14.01, 14.1, & 14.2.

Friday 11/13 I exchanged my iPhone 11 for the iPhone 12 mini. This device is running IOS 14.2. I cannot enter characters in Safari and still am having the same issues with the applications Youtube and SiriusXm.

I have an old iPhone 7 running IOS 14.1 and am having no problems entering characters in Safari and Youtube.

Submitted by Albarra XVI on Wednesday, December 2, 2020

After my iPhone 7 updated the latest version of 14.2, I noticed VoiceOver couldn’t automatically switched to Arabic vocalizer when I read Arabic articles on Safari, messages on WhatsApp, etc. My primary language for voiceOver is American English, and secondary language is Arabic. I went to Accessibility > VoiceOver > Speech > Detect Languages and it was still on. I restarted my phone but nothing change. It’s a bug.

Submitted by Pasquale on Sunday, January 3, 2021

Hello,
So I have encountered the issue that voiceover was reading every single punctuation. After messing around a little bit I have noticed that I change the activities rotor function to I think developing mode if that’s what it’s called. So I switched it back to normal and the issue no longer exist on my phone. Hope this helps. I removed the activities rotor selection from my Rotor list to prevent this from reoccurring.