Apple Releases iOS 9.1 with New Features, Enhancements and Some Bug Fixes for Blind and Low Vision Users

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today released iOS 9.1, bringing with it some new features and improvements across the operating system.

For blind and low vision users, Apple has made some progress towards addressing the accessibility bugs still present in iOS 9.0.2.

At this point, it is worth noting that our testing of iOS 9.1 has been somewhat limited. While a majority of our editorial team has been using iOS 9.1 since September, it is impossible for us to test all devices, apps, and use cases. Though we are quite confident in the accuracy of the information presented below, it is possible that, as with all software testing, we have overlooked some changes, regressions, or improvements. With this in mind, we would greatly appreciate your help in ensuring that the information on this page is as complete and accurate as possible. If you spot any accessibility changes in iOS 9.1 that we do not have listed on this page, please do let us know in the comments. As additional information becomes available, we will update this post accordingly.

Accessibility Bugs Fixed in iOS 9.1

  • In the Mail app, VoiceOver now states the actual number of messages in a grouped conversation rather than saying “multiple messages”.
  • Fixed the problem where VoiceOver behaviour appeared to indicate that it was not possible to enter text into some webpage text fields (such as the Search fields on the AppleVis and BookShare websites).
  • When using a Bluetooth keyboard with an iPad, VoiceOver now correctly speaks the available keyboard commands displayed onscreen. (Note: Not all possible keyboard commands are displayed onscreen; this is not a bug with VoiceOver.)
  • VoiceOver no longer becomes unresponsive upon receiving an incoming phone call.
  • Audio now returns to the correct level after being interrupted by VoiceOver when audio ducking is enabled
  • VoiceOver sound effects no longer randomly disappear.

Accessibility Bugs Possibly Fixed in iOS 9.1

There are some bugs which we have been led to believe should be fixed in this release, but cannot 100% confirm. It is possible that in these cases that Apple has resolved the problem in specific use cases, partially resolved the problem, or resolved a similar but different bug.

The bugs in question are:

  • Switching VoiceOver voices in Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Speech > Default Dialect now behaves as expected (the only situation where voices may not switch automatically are when you have limited storage space available on your device or poor internet connectivity).

Accessibility Bugs Introduced in iOS 9.1

  • Using the VoiceOver Actions Rotor on a Contact icon on the Proactive Search screen will occasionally result in the information from another contact being used/shown.
  • VoiceOver may not always automatically announce the time when you press the Power button to wake your device.

Other Changes

Support For New Hardware

This release will put in place support for the soon to be released iPad Pro and fourth-generation Apple TV.

More Emojis

iOS 9.1 adds support for Unicode 8, which means that you will now have a number of new emojis to choose from. These include new emojis for sports, weather, animals and foods, and the selection of new smilies includes upside-down face, money-mouth face, nerd, rolling eyes, hug, and thinker. If that weren’t enough, you can now give people the middle finger emoji.

iOS 9.1 is available via Over-the-Air Update (Settings> General> Software Update) or from iTunes on the Mac or PC. As always, we would encourage you to make a backup before installing this update.

We will update this post as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please let us know via the comments of any additional fixes or new bugs that you find.

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Submitted by Scott Davert on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

I never took the time to notice, but this bug is indeed there for braille users. It doesn't matter what display you are running. Also unfixed is the braille bug with Airplane Mode. That's quite an annoying one indeed!

Submitted by CW on Friday, October 30, 2015

Hi all,

My iphone 6 has been updated with IOS9.1. After using several hours, the iphone failed to lock the screen in safe power mode. Then, it ran out of power very quickly. It happend all the time to me after using for a period of time. I had tried to put it into lower battery mode and closing unnecessary apps. It didn't help and the iphone could not turn into locked screen mode and ran out of the battery very quickly.

Grateful if any one would help me tackle the problem. Thank you.

Submitted by Gordon Kent on Saturday, October 31, 2015

In reply to by raaj

Does this bug occur for those not using voice over? It wouldn't be so bad, except a lot of apps nag about leaving a review, and I figured if I leave a review they will leave me alone. Also, I would like to let developers know when an app is completely inaccessible, especially if I pay 20 dollars for it, which just happened to me. This was a music production app, called FL studio, and it is completely invisible to VO.

Submitted by Gordon Kent on Saturday, October 31, 2015

I used to be able to play live audio in the NBA app with no trouble. All the currently available games were visible and easy to activate. Now the interface has changed, and I can't seem to get it working even though I did update my subscription and I know that there are live games available. Has anybody else tried this lately? It seems that you don't actually hear the name of the teams spoken, only what quarter they are in and how much time is left. Clicking on one of these causes VO to say "selected," but the play audio button is not available.

Submitted by Chris Nusbaum on Sunday, November 1, 2015

It's gratifying to read of Apple's latest patch. To me, it remains clear that they genuinely care about fixing accessibility bugs and making sure their devices work well for blind users. However, I'm curious as to whether anyone else in the community has experienced the following bugs which I continue to experience on my iPhone 6:

1. When I double tap the send button in the Mail app, VoiceOver often freezes, causing me to have to turn VO off and on again using Siri in order to get speech back. A friend who uses a 5C running iOS 9 has also reported this to me.
2. When using my iPhone with a Braille display, VO's focus occasionally gets stuck on the status bar when I press the home button. I have to tap near the bottom of the screen in order to get the home screen to display again.

Any tips on these bugs would be appreciated.



Submitted by Sunshine Daisies on Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hello, a weird thing is happening whenever I would dictate a text message. Voice Over announces the word "file" on every word I dictated before inserting it on the text field. Does anybody experience the same issue? If so, how can I fix it so that it doesn't say the "file" anymore. I have the iPhone 6 and currently running the latest iOS 9 update. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.