iPhone XS On-Screen Keyboard: Missing In Action

iOS and iPadOS

I have a surprising but frustrating issue that seemed to come at me out of nowhere last evening, relating to input via the keyboard on my XS. My trouble is not with a hardware-based, physical keyboard I'm trying to link to my iPhone, but rather with the software keyboard that is native to the phone itself. I cannot get this virtual, on-screen
keyboard to appear even when I want it. Regardless of whether Bluetooth is activated or not, my iPhone presumes I do have a linked external keyboard I wish to use and hides/disables the natural, on-screen keyboard immediately as soon as I've entered into an edit field in any app.

Yes, sometimes I do use a type of external keyboard. Being visually impaired, I have an
Orbit Reader 20, containing a Perkins-style Braille keyboard, that I often pair to this iPhone. When I do have Bluetooth enabled today, I still can successfully enter input using that Orbit Reader.
But even when that Orbit Reader is not in range, and even when I've turned off Bluetooth altogether, I find today I I cannot even search for an app or enter the URL of a Website into Safari or type a simple answer to a text message using my phone's on-screen keyboard, which I want to be able to do. Aside from when I'm typing my access code to unlock the phone, I can no longer type on
the screen any more for any purpose, because the phone always seems to presume that input is defaulting to an external keyboard.

I've done all the obvious things to try to solve this. Once, I even activated Airplane Mode for a while. I've unpaired all Bluetooth devices, including the Orbit Reader. I've even recycled the iPhone off and
then back on a few times. But this glitch continues, and I have not found anything in Settings that absolutely disables or enables that
on-screen keyboard. Perhaps this would be solved if I could install a new edition of iOS, but I am already running the latest, and in Settings it says I have no other more recent firmware updates to load.

I wrote to a blindness-specific tech list earlier today, and the only proposed solution was that I go into settings and make it so that incoming calls are displayed on Full Screen instead of with a badge. I've followed this advice, but this hasn't solved my problem, either.

Any other suggestions?

Thank you.

Kind regards,

Kane Brolin



Submitted by Curtis Chong on Thursday, April 1, 2021

You might want to look in Settings, General, Keyboards, to remove any external keyboard you have listed there. Failing that, it might also be worth a call to Apple Accessibility Support, which you may have already done. I agree this is quite vexing and perplexing.

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Thursday, April 1, 2021

VoiceOver has a command for braille displays which toggles the on-screen keyboard from being displayed or hidden, which is space+Dot 1 4 6. There was a bug at one point that would keep the keyboard hidden even if your display wasn't connected, but I thought it was fixed. Knowing Apple perhaps it could still happen on 1 out of a million devices. So, what I would try is connect your Orbit, navigate to a text field, press Space+1 4 6, which should cause the keyboard to appear, then disconnect your display and see if the keyboard will come up now.

My 11-year-old, sighted son and an individual named Donna writing on the BlindTech List gave me clues that helped to bring back my on-screen keyboard on the iPhone XS. When I explained to my son what I was frustrated about, he took my phone, turned VoiceOver off, and opened an edit box; he observed that he could see and type on a virtual keyboard that popped up on the screen. This made me realize that my problem was particular to VoiceOver. Then, I ran across a reply to this same query that I had left on BlindTech; Donna suggested I turn off Screen Recognition, a rare category of rotor gesture option that I can modify by going into VoiceOver settings inside Accessibility Settings. I'm still not at all sure as to what Screen Recognition is supposed to do. I don't even recall for sure whether I checked or unchecked Screen Recognition. All I know is that after I finally had found and modified that setting, I was able to type a search query into Safari's search box using my iPhone's on-screen keyboard. So for now, at least, this is solved; but I am curious to know what this is all about. I've never seen Screen Recognition before as a setting modifier that comes up when I twist that virtual rotor around. But I surely appreciated the clue, and maybe others have an observation about this.

Kind regards,


Submitted by DrewWeber on Sunday, July 25, 2021

I appreciate the previous posts on this thread. I as well had the same issue:
Paired and using the Orbit Writer Braille keyboard, that shows itself as a Braille display.
Turned off the display, away went the virtual keyboard.
The above advice unfortunately didn't solve my issue in iOS 14.7, IPhone SE2020.
If you,
set the virtual keyboard to display even when Braille display is connected,
are in a text field with the Braille display, as well as the virtual keyboard active.
Disable Voiceover,
Turn off the Braille display.
Enable Voiceover,
your virtual keyboard should reappear. I agree this is annoying but I am glad we still have a work around.