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 Amir on Thursday, September 16, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

Greetings. I've been using various betas of iOS 15 over the last couple of months and would like to share the following findings.
1. The Share Sheet bug confirmed.
VoiceOver announces the word "activity" for most, if not all, items on the Share Sheet, including the top recommendations and many of the items at the bottom. This happens to me on a regular basis -- at least 80 percent of the time I have to bring up the Share Sheet.
2. Issues with bringing up Siri with "Hey Siri" when the phone is locked.
With VoiceOver enabled and if the phone is locked, oftentimes attempting to bring up Siri either by saying the phrase "Hey Siri" and immediately asking something, or by saying "Hey Siri" and waiting for it to say something like "aha", fails to get the system to activate Siri. Simply put, I hear the tone indicating that Siri has encountered a failure, or VoiceOver simply reads the current time on the Lock screen. The phone has to be locked, I mean the screen should be turned off, in order for this to be duplicated. With VoiceOver turned off, Siri functions as expected.
3. Issues with opening folders and reporting the exact position on the Home screen.
Oftentimes VoiceOver doesn't consistently report the cursor position when folders are opened on the Home screen. Sometimes it remains silent, and more often it correctly reads the precise folder name.
4. App Store and app updates.
I don't know if this is a VoiceOver bug or if it is a change relevant to iOS, but VoiceOver no longer specifies how many app updates the App Store has when we reach its icon on the Home screen. With iOS 14, the number of app updates was indicated by the App Store icon and VoiceOver could announce it.
5. Issue inserting emojis from the Search window.
If you use the Search facility in the Emoji panel and double-tap on an emoji from the Result list to insert it, VoiceOver inserts the proper emoji but, with each double-tap, announces an irrelevant letter which has nothing to do with the name/description of the inserted emoji.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, September 16, 2021

Isn't this what the beta is supposed to fix? Seems that year by year the public release is a poorer experience for VoiceOver users. By this point it is safest to wait until the final iteration of the previous version and stick with that for the year.

Very disappointing.

Submitted by Andy Lane on Thursday, September 16, 2021

I’ve been using the beta for a month or so now and although the OS is pretty solid on the whole I’d say accessibility is getting larger holes and less of a polished feeling, in short I’d say stick with the previous OS if you want to be able to use your entire device. There isn’t enough new to put up with the bugs and holes in the OS IMHO. On a side note does Apple actually care about the thousands of £ or $ we spend on these devices? Frustrations are unacceptable, outright holes in capability should be considered show stoppers but they just don’t appear to put high priority on the user experience for VO users. Can you imagine the outcry if that list of functions was missing for regular users? Apple would be a laughing stock and their devices would be considered unusable. Why should we accept this level of nonsense? We pay too.

Submitted by Carter Wu on Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hi all ,
You may not understand that VoiceOver has always performed very poorly on Chinese keyboards. Specifically, when we input text, VoiceOver often gives out some candidates that are difficult to understand.So over the years we have been trying to contact Apple and provide our feedback.Finally, this problem was partially resolved on iOS15.VoiceOver modified the way 251 Chinese words are read aloud when typing.So if you are a Chinese user, I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.
Of course, the bugs mentioned in the original poster's article also exist here.And I found that the focus of VoiceOver on my iPhone XR often becomes unstable.
This is all I know.

Submitted by Cobbler on Thursday, September 16, 2021

For me, the standout bug from the above list was the button in Safari having the wrong VoiceOver label.

Is it serious? Heck no.

But, does it provide completely misleading information to VoiceOver users? Heck yes.

And, how long would it take to correct? My guess is less than 5 minutes, and that's probably allowing the engineer time to take a coffee break midway.

But, apparently this bug wasn't considered worthy of just 5 minutes by Apple. #fail

Submitted by Jason SW on Thursday, September 16, 2021

Ever since I upgraded to the iOS 15 beta, I have been unable to use the Authy app normally. VoiceOver acts like there are no elements on screen, and focus moves to the status bar. The only way I can use the app is to enable screen recognition. Screen recognition seems to work most of the time, but the PIN entry screen doesn't work correctly. Specifically, the 4 button is not detected as a button, so if your PIN contains a 4, you will have problems.
I submitted a bug report on this issue at the beginning of July, but Apple has not responded.

Submitted by dean mills on Thursday, September 16, 2021

I don't see the wallet problem in ios 15 here running the latest build.

Submitted by John Hope on Thursday, September 16, 2021

In reply to by dean mills

Which of the two Wallet bugs is it that you aren't experiencing?

I can reproduce both here, but fortunately mostly use only the one card anyway.

Submitted by fatih on Thursday, September 16, 2021

I don't think of upgrading to IOS 15 at this time simply because of the share sheet bug. I I sometimes use this to share somethings with friends and family etc, what will happen when I try to share something with someone? Do I have to tap on the apps one by one to see if I opened the correct app or not?
Very silly bug indeed.

Here many of my apps, including What'sApp, are identified/announced as "button" in the Share Sheet. So basically yes, you should either tap on many of them or, if you don't happen to alter their position either automatically or manually, memorize their location. For instance, I know which app appears after "Mail", so despite not hearing its proper name I select it and move on. Very annoying to say the least.

Submitted by Little Star on Thursday, September 16, 2021

1. visit a page in safari
2. using two finger swipe down to read all
3. to a certain point voiceover suddenly stop saying anything and the say all command is stopped

Submitted by tripolice on Thursday, September 16, 2021

VO presents all the options in the quick settings, (as can be evoked through 2 finger quadruple tap gesture), as value adjustable, all including those that are on/off toggles. Both double tapping as well as swiping work, that's great, but then, when one swipes up or down VO does not an-ounce the state of on/off. This becomes very confusing. Either toggles should be presented as toggles, or adjusting value should be correctly announced .

Submitted by Little Star on Thursday, September 16, 2021

1. when I trigger a shortcut app that read file from cloud storage and play sound, shortcut will show an alert to ask for your permission.
2. but when voiceover read the alert, it will say something avfdlk24lkjlkjxfdlkj44343

Submitted by Little Star on Thursday, September 16, 2021

I used to set two finger swipe left and right for other function under voiceover command
before I upgrade to ios 15 gm, I already knew that swipe left and right is occupied by the move into and out from group gesture, so I manually reset the voiceover command before upgrading.

I wonder if people did not reset these and upgraded, will they receive alert that new gesture conflicting with their customized command?

Sadly in voiceover command, if you select a gesture and click remove button at the bottom, it did not restore to the system defaul but to a blank status.

Submitted by Little Star on Thursday, September 16, 2021

1 open setting
2. click password
3. if you keep on swiping right with single finger, voiceover will pass through the autofill button, and land on the following elements.
4. at this point, if you swipe left with one finger, voiceover will land on the autofill button again.

Submitted by Little Star on Thursday, September 16, 2021

voiceover behave differently when you directly click the back button on the top left, and when you perform the go back "z" gesture.
1. i visited accessibility page under setting.
2. if i press the top left back button, voiceover will speak setting heading.
3. if i perform the z-gesture to go back from accessibility, voiceover will say accessibility button then say setting heading

These are both 100% reproducible on my own iPhone 12 Pro running the RC build, so I guess they are likely to be bugs which are specific to configuration or use case - possibly the types of items that you have added in Wallet.

In my case, I have a bank card and COVID pass.

The bank card is at the top of the list and works just fine. However, as soon as I double tap on the COVID pass to activate it, crash goes Wallet.

The same happens as soon as I attempt to swipe through the Wallet app itself.

Submitted by Orko on Thursday, September 16, 2021

In reply to by Oliver Kennett

I'm not surprised. Ever since iOS12 I have always followed Oliver's advice and refused to upgrade to the new iOS until the next new major release is immanent. Because with every new release it seems that the Apple has even more worms. It looks like I'll be running iOS 14 until iOS 16 is about to be released.

I agree that this is very disappointing, I had hoped that iOS 15 would contain no new features, instead it would contain nothing but bug fixes, but I guess that as long as Apple is in control, that will never happen.

Apple needs to have done to them what the government did to AT&T back in the 80s.

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Thursday, September 16, 2021

As stated in the subject. In addition to the time picker when setting up downtime being inaccessible, this is also the case if trying to either create or edit an app limit.

As far as other issues go, I can't reproduce the share sheet one on my 2020 iPhone SE, but the wallet app does appear to be crashing for me if trying to switch cards

Submitted by Redhead on Thursday, September 16, 2021

I wholeheartedly agree with using #wepaytoo. I do agree that we will have bugs. However, I also agree with the comments that accessibility is going down hill. What frustrates me the most is that braille issues have not been resolved. I’ve been experiencing braille issues since ios 11. I’ve emailed apple several times. It's a great disappointment that they are still present in ios 15. I feel that braille users were ignored. Frankly, I’d rather have no braille support at all than have the poor experience that Iam having. I’ve given up contacting apple. My efforts have been fruitless.

Ni3 hao3! Hi!
If you are Chinese you can type with Wubi And you won't need to choose candidates at all.
If you are using pinyin, it is not comfortable for the blind user because you need to listen candidates and moreover you have to check the character descriptions.
And certainly it is a slow typing method.
If you are typing traditional characters Then you have to use cang jie keyboard instead of wubi 86.
But you can try wubi 98 or a new-century version.
I use wubi 86 and canng jie a little.
I love Chinese language and i spent a lot of time to solve problem to type any character while being blind.
So ... no problem with voiceover even in 14 iPadOs and iOs.
zai4 jian4 wo3 de5 peng2 you5!
Good-bye (see you later) my friend!

Submitted by Larry on Thursday, September 16, 2021

Anyone able to reproduce this?

Safari address bar at top. Connect bluetooth keyboard (I am using a magic keyyboard). When the keyboard is connected I am unable to edit the address field at top. If I switch off the keyboard or choose to have the address bar at the bottom Safari works as expected.

Submitted by Trenton Matthews on Thursday, September 16, 2021

The subject line pretty much tells the story with Full Keyboard Access (if on iOS/IPad OS 15 Public Betas at least )…

Using standard VoiceOver commands in conjunction with the arrows in apps such as Mail and Settings (with the space bar to interact with the item in question), it works quite nicely with those.

When it comes to those who rely on quick nav (and/or the CapsLock key as the VO modifier), then that’s where you’ll find conflicts.

I should note here as well, unlike with Mac OS and VoiceOver’s “Always Use Keyboard Commands To Navigate Through Web Pages” feature, there’s nothing like that in iOS/IPad OS as of now.

And that’s, all I have to share from here.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hello all,
I have reported this bug during the beta of iPad OS15. When you open up safari, activate the address bar, you cannot use either BSI or a braille display to enter in text. The only way to input text into the address bar is to use the on screen keyboard or a bluetooth keyboard. Has anyone else seen this with the iPad OS betas or the RC version?

Submitted by Igna Triay on Thursday, September 16, 2021

From my testing of ios15, I got the authy bug as well. The authy developer might have to be contacted, or we could just wait for a authy update, that'll probably fix it.

Submitted by Missy Hoppe on Thursday, September 16, 2021

Subject line pretty much says it all. Until now, I've just updated on the first day and learned how to deal with the bugs, but there are just too many this time that I know would be major issues to me. This is also going to postpone my purchase of a new phone. I don't need to learn how to say good-bye to the home button on top of all of this mess. The last version of iOS that I truly liked was 12, and as much as 14 does annoy me at times, I'd rather deal with familiar frustrations than update and face more serious issues. Especially since I have an iPhone 8 Plus, it sounds like there wouldn't be all that much benefit in my updating anyway. I will watch Applevis for future developments. Hopefully 15.1 or something will resolve enough of these issues that I'll be brave enough to take the plunge and update, but for now, I made sure that absolutely everything having to do with autoupdate is disabled. I'll be brave and update my apple TV's, though. After all, things really can't get too much worse on that front.

You had exactly the same thought as me re Apple TV’s. They really can’t get any worse. I’ve stopped using them for months now because they are so frustrating. I have 4 of them which is around £700 useless because they’ve messed up so much of the accessibility. Its really not funny because #WePayToo but they don’t appear to care, thats now my belief until they show different. They consider VO users second class citizens. When they start making devices reliable and not infuriating I’ll start believing they actually give 2 hoots.

Submitted by Missy Hoppe on Friday, September 17, 2021

I have three, and actually just purchased the 2021 model earlier today. My thinking, whethere it's truly accurate or not, is that as crappy as VO is on the Apple TV, it's still the most accessible option out there for most things. I briefly had a fire stick, and was not impressed; similarly, I wouldn't want to use the apps built into my smart TV. I know how to deal with most of the annoyances on the apple TV, and they aren't deal breakers like the bugs described in this post would be on my phone. Just my opinion, of course. I'm sure plenty of folks have found other accessible alternatives, but for my needs/skill level/whatever, I'm still OK with the Apple TV.

Submitted by Yvonnezed on Friday, September 17, 2021

Do I really have to read through all this just to find out what the problems are in iOS 15? Can we please move the "Apple is evil, these bugs are unacceptable, my human rights are being violated" discussion somewhere else? Seriously. If they're deal breakers, wait. From what I remember, iOS 14's even still getting security fixes this year the way they do with Mac updates, so leave your devices where they are for a few months.

As for the bugs, yes they suck. Many of your sighted peers are putting up with them too. A lot of them seem to be in the bits of iOS and iPadOS that got seriously overhauled or in some cases completely rewritten, so it's not entirely surprising. Read some of the mainstream iOS and heck, even MacOS press and people are screaming about how bad this release is going to be. The ones I've particularly noticed are Shortcuts users and iPad users, and heaven knows what the outcome of the Safari rewrite are going to be. So please, if your device is essential, don't upgrade.

Hi, thanks for your interest in Chinese.What I have to tell you is that your idea is wonderful, but unattainable for most Chinese users.In order to use the Wubi input method it must be based on being able to write Chinese characters which is the script used by non-visually impaired people, however most blind people don't learn this in schools for the blind.That's why Pinyin input method is the only option for the vast majority of visually impaired users.I hope you understand what I'm saying.

你好我的朋友!
Hi my friend!
It is very sad to sound many blind don't use the comfortable method to write Chinese Characters.
I am blind, totally blind.
I am using iPad and iPhone.
And I prefer typing in wubi 86, and it is really reliable way to type characters without doubts.
You don't need to know how to draw the character shapes.
But you should know how to build from basic shapes (214) the word.
More exactly to say, you have to learn by heart these key strokes.
Yes, you have to remember a lot of that keys.
Or you can use on screen keyboard on iPad or iPhone.
The usual people also have a lot of difficulties to memorize graphical shapes of these signs.
Pinyin is a very unreliable way to type,
Though voicover is messaging candidates. And you as user has to think or hope you have chosen a correct character by sound.
If you once chose an incorrect character, then voicover will suggest namely this character next time.
再见我的朋友!
Good bye my friend!
Post scriptum:
Dear admins do not remove this message, please, though I understand the topic is not suitable for this forum branch.
Thank you for your understanding.

Submitted by Little Star on Friday, September 17, 2021

1. three fingers one tap on either icon on the desktop
2. voiceover may say Group Dropbox first row second column .....
hmm but actually icons here, none of them are group, why voiceover say it like this?

Submitted by Chris Hill on Friday, September 17, 2021

I wish I'd have tried this earlier, but I can't seem to get maps to give me the details of a route to a place. Sure, I can search and pick a route but I can't tell what the steps are anymore. It is a shame that Google Maps is now more accessible, but that's the truth.

Submitted by Chris Hill on Friday, September 17, 2021

Another one I wish I'd needed earlier: Open a new text message, tap apps, pick photos, swipe down past all the other apps until you get to the first photo. Voiceover restarts. Repeat until you're tired and then get a sighted person to finish the job.

I have found this bug at another place, so I wonder if it is related to an external source trying to access the photo library?

In Safari navigate to a site where you have an option to upload files. For example, a profile picture. When you try to select a photo VoiceOver restarts until you give up :p

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Friday, September 17, 2021

The three finger tap gesture was changed to give you more context, probably mainly due to the grouped navigation style you can switch to. The home screen icons are in fact grouped together, while the dock icons are a separate container. You'll see this verbosity on other controls as well - IE if you do the three-finger tap on the list of messages in Mail you'll also be told that's where you are, while the topmost section of most apps that includes things like search fields, back buttons and such is announced as the Nav Bar.