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 Igna Triay on Saturday, September 18, 2021

i'm up for updating, but the authy beeing inaccessible... kinda puts me off. Although i'm guessing once the dev updates the app to be combatable it'll fix things... Other than that though... most of the bugs don't affect me much, as I don't use apple plus etc.

Submitted by Little Star on Saturday, September 18, 2021

In reply to by Piotr Machacz

Yes i do also notice this in mail app.
But I find it very confusing.
In ios 15, group means that you can move in and out with two fingers swipe left or right.
but here we have items associated with group but you cannot two fingers swipe left or right, which sound very confusing.
Those buttons at the top associated with nav bar is definitely correct.
but icons on the desktop associated with group is not correct, to my understanding.

Submitted by PaulMartz on Saturday, September 18, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

The issue with the App Switcher not reading app names has existed since iOS 14 in a slightly different form. I sporadically experience App Switcher reading the incorrect app names. Perhaps I'm more readily able to see this behavior as I still have enough residual vision to tell the apps apart when they're displayed in the App Switcher. For me, this issue happens perhaps one time in five, pretty infrequent. It sounds like the issue is more severe in iOS 15.

Going against the wishes of the AppleVis editors, here's a little soapboxing (don't worry, I'll keep it brief): The solution to these issues is at hand. Apple needs to live up to their stated accessibility values and direct their entire QA staff to learn and test with VoiceOver enabled.

Submitted by Amir on Saturday, September 18, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

In reply to by PaulMartz

Hi Paul, Wish those whom your awesome piece of advice is aimed at would heed it <LOL>!
At any event, I can also duplicate this issue, and it's more severe with iOS 15. It seems that when I swipe up with 3 fingers to close an app and if I do it a bit rapidly to close a couple of them, VoiceOver will read the name of the recently closed app instead of the one which has just gained focus. Interestingly, the correct app title, I mean the one which has the new focus, won't be read unless I touch the screen or swipe to force VO to read the screen/control.

Submitted by Shersey on Saturday, September 18, 2021

In reply to by PaulMartz

I never could figure out the problem in iOS 14; I thought focus was just weird or something, or that I was swiping too fast and VO was being sluggish or something. So that's what's happening when I double-tap on Mail and Amazon or something else opens instead. Sheesh, Apple!!!

Speaking of annoying bugs, does anyone know if the issue of VO not speaking after a call is ended is still present in iOS 15? It's easy enough to fix by doing the tripple-click of the home or side button, though you sometimes have to do that a couple times for it to turn off; once it's turned off, I don't have problems getting it to turn on with the first tripple-tap. Still, it is annoying. I know that VO is still technically on, because I have VO sounds turned on, and I can still hear them. Also, it's not as if speech were muted, because I experimented with that, just to see what would happen. No, speech is just gone. I'm hoping this is fixed in iOS 15.

Thanks,
Shersey

Submitted by viphoana on Saturday, September 18, 2021

I have encountered a serious bug in iOS beta 8. This is not the last version but the one before final release candidate.
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 was also impossible.
Since I edit and use shortcuts extensively, I had to downgrade out of beta. So, if you do the same, beware. I will update on Monday and report back if accessibility of the shortcuts interface has improved.
Do any of you have similar problems with variables and magic variables? This is really important for me. Made creating complex shortcuts impossible.

Hi, I use FaceTime audio for almost all my calls so can’t say whether or not it happens on regular phone calls although I’m pretty sure it does. With FaceTime audio however its almost always there. Speech hangs, VO sounds still work then you triple click side button to toggle VO off and on again maybe once or sometimes twice then everything is back to normal. I don’t get it on my iPad Pro M1 But do on my iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Submitted by Jamie Olson on Saturday, September 18, 2021

I cannot set the text size in ibooks to very large like I could in ipados14. All fonts seem to have a pre-defined upper limit which is smaller than in ipados14.

Submitted by Serina Gilbert on Sunday, September 19, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Blog Team

When using direct touch typing, with speak characters and words enabled and speak autotext on, Voice Over inconsistently speaks the words aloud after correcting the word and/or hitting the spacebar. I have tested this on two separate devices, is anyone else able to reproduce?

Submitted by fatih on Monday, September 20, 2021

I think apple engineers are in some kind of pressure to release updates on the month of September. Had it not been the case, they could have postponed the release to fix the bugs, and then release this version. They aren't machines after all, they are people just like us, who have their needs etc. It isn't possible for them to release an update in exactly the same time of the year every time.
Apple CEO Tim Cook should change this policy. Apple versions have become less and less exciting for me and being a university student, I began to worry more about the bugs which will impact te use of my device negatively, rather than getting excited about the new features that this release will offer.
Thanks for reading.

Submitted by cjsims on Monday, September 20, 2021

Regarding the Wallet issue. Does it happen if double pressing side button and choosing a card? Or does it just happen if you open the actual wallet app?

Yes, it works fine with just the one card and with the card that's first on the screen.

Submitted by Stephen yerardi on Monday, September 20, 2021

I wrote another post for a thread with my problem lately about focusing seems to be stuck on status bar in native message app, and now latest Facebook app.
Has that been encountered with any of the testing with this newest iOS. Or has been fixed. I was running iOS 14. Seven. One, then upgraded to 14. Eight

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Monday, September 20, 2021

Does anyone know if I'll be able to downgrade a new iPad mini? I understand it will be shipped with iOS 15 but think I'm going to hold off on it if I can.

Depending on when you ordered it, or if you haven't common sense says Apple sings off on IOS15 usually a day or so after release. Sorry to be the barer of bad news.

I actually have this bug in the photos app as well, which is a big problem. I've tried turning off image descriptions but haven't tried any other settings changes.

Submitted by Simon on Monday, September 20, 2021

If you open notification center and do a three-finger swipe down to scroll up through notifications, Spotlight opens instead. You just have to swipe left until you get to the beginning of notifications.

Submitted by mendi on Monday, September 20, 2021

It's frustrating when you're the type who wants to test the latest tech and/or are almost required to, yet you come over here on iOS release day to find a two page thread discussing the multiple bugs in the system. I would love to update, but given I use the wallet app a lot, (I have an apple card and need to pay my bill on time), I think I'm going to have to sit out until or unless this bug is fixed. It's a shame. I was looking forward to some of the new things like the extra facetime features too.

Submitted by Andy Lane on Monday, September 20, 2021

In reply to by mendi

I think you are doing the right thing, I’m going to stop installing public betas and wait to see what happens with the main releases in future. I also want to see the latest thing Apple are releasing but honestly I’d rather have a less frustrating life. Phones are so central to everything we do these days and its just not worth messing up things that work to get the cool new stuff IMHO. This year I installed the public beta about a month ago thinking that would have given them enough time to work out the worst bugs but if I could downgrade right now I would do it. I don’t have that option though so I’ll just work around the second rate OS until Apple pulls its finger out its you know where and fixes the major bugs that should never have made it through to the RC. I’m probably still going to install the Apple TV fairly soon after release though as I can’t see how they could make that much worse. Maybe they’ll surprise me though.

You know, once I turned off direct touch and started using he new remote, the TV seems quite a bit less frustrating. I'm using a 4th gen TV with the new remote for reference.

Submitted by Steve Sawczyn on Monday, September 20, 2021

I did not join the beta, but did just download the newly-available release of iOS 15. I was most concerned about the Wallet bugs described in this post as I use Apple Wallet heavily. To my surprise, I do not seem to be experiencing the Wallet-related bugs that were reported: I can swipe through all my passes and I can activate any of them without issue. The only weird thing I'm noticing is that if I go into my Apple Card specifically, there doesn't seem to be a "done" button to get me back out. I can get out with a scrub gesture, but this may not be intuitive for some, especially as all my other passes and cards seem to have that familiar "done" button. Anyway, I'm hoping others will be able to chime in if they're not experiencing the Wallet bugs. For anyone who tracks such things, my build is 15.0 (19A346) which I believe differs from the GM build.

Sadly I can reproduce both of the wallet bugs here.

I guess these must be some of those bugs we routinely see, where they are specific to certain devices, regions, languages, configuration, or who knows what. In this case, it's possible that even what you have in your Wallet might be a factor.

If correct, this might also explain why it wasn't fixed by Apple during the beta cycle due to being bugs which are hard to reliably reproduce and to find the cause.

We'll see what happens. On the newest Apple TV box I just got this past week, I ran into a serious bug in the TV Shows app. Hoping iOS 15 will fix it; it was seriously weird!

Not updating my iPhone 8 plus since it couldn't take advantage of any of the new accissibility features. The tech trainer at my workplace has already updated, though, and she couldn't say enough good tings about iOS 15. I'm going to wait for a little while longer, but then, I'll probably end up following her advice and getting the smaller version of the iPhone 13 Pro, only in an attempt to insure as much future proofing as possible. Probably won't place that order, though, until I've read more about other people's experiences.

Submitted by John Lipsey on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

I don't see this with all apps, and I'm not sure why, but this is what I'm observing.
Tap phone to wake
Hear that there are 1, 2, 5, any number of notifications
swipe to a notification
Voiceover reads, for example, "Trivia Crack: Trivia crack: person didn't answer correctly. It's your turn".
I also see it with "MLB: MLB: The Mets tie the Red Socks..."
These are the only 2 apps I see it in at the moment, oddly. Anybody else seeing this? I'm running iOS 15.0 on an iPhone 11.

Submitted by mendi on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Those who have had the wallet bug, what phone are you running the latest OS on? And if you're not seeing it, which phone is it? I have an 11 Pro, and if this is isolated to things like iPhone8 or the SE, I might go for it, although I still stand firm that I will more than likely wait until closer to the weekend to avoid gridlock, never mind should my phone become a brick I don't want to deal with that mess on a work night.

Submitted by Teresa on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Direct Touch in games isn't working well on my SE 2nd gen. It responds unpredictably while playing games. Also, I notice a lot of vibration while exploring the screen. I tend to use that method, rather than swiping. I've tried rebooting the phone with no change. Anyone else?

Submitted by John Hope on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

In reply to by mendi

I'm seeing both the Wallet bugs on an iPhone 12 Pro. However, if you scroll back through this thread, you will see at least one person with the same phone who is not seeing the bugs. Go figure 😕

Submitted by Jo Billard on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

I'm not having any trouble so far. My app switcher is working better than it has in nearly a year. I don't like what they did with the calendar concerning events that have Zoom links. There used to be a join conference button if you set it up and now that's gone, and I have to swipe through a whole lot of stuff to find the link to join the meeting. Fortunately I should be able to learn where the Zoom link is on the screen.

Go to settings, accessibility, voiceover, audio, sounds and haptics, there will be a slider to reduce or increase the haptic intensity, you can also completely turned off if you like

I think the problem with spotlight and notifications is a bit tricky. It's meant to help by allowing you to get to spotlight from anywhere, just by swiping down twice. Unfortunately someone seems to have forgotten the three finger swipe down is used for spotlight or page down depending on the context.

I often find reading mainstream iOS reviews are useful to work out why some of these bugs are happening. It doesn't make them less annoying, but at least it often makes them comprehensible.

Submitted by Patrick Hurst on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

When swiping through blank parts of the screen, VoiceOver now gives heavy haptic feedback (about 20 vibes/second; previously it was the "Dub" sound). However, when dragging elements such as a time selector, I get no more vibrations and instead only spoken feedback... This seems quite unlogical, yes sometimes a bit irritating to me.
Is this a bug or is there any way to set it back to how it behaved before?

Submitted by Patrick Hurst on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

I have found the settings section to turn off the feedback for "No element found" (Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Audio > Sounds and Vibrations). So I could at least turn off haptic Feedback for "No element found"!

Thanks. I didn't know which one to turn off, but found the solution in another group. For anyone else who's looking, I think it was no item discovered, I can't remember the exact words.

Submitted by Lee on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hi, under audio I do not have any option for vibrations. I would like to turn it off as people have said it has gone crazy and needs turning off. Haptics are fine the vibrations are over the top but that option does not seem to be there and I can't find it anywhere.

Submitted by AppleVis on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

For those encountering the issue of VoiceOver not always speaking app names when using the App Switcher, this can be resolved by disabling Reduce Motion at Settings > Accessibility > Motion.

Thanks go to Sam Taylor for the tip.

I've been having issues with the Replika application thnks to said direct-touch bug.
Sometimes I can get around it by going to Rotor Actions and turning off said feature for the app in question, though I may need to just keep on communicating with the My Replika team over there.

Submitted by fatih on Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Do you experience the bug whee voiceover doesn't announce items in the share sheet under IOS 15? And is the interactive vibration or whatever present on iPhone 7?
Thanks.

It might depend on what kind of phone you have. If you're getting the vibrations, you should be able to turn them off. Did you go under voiceover first? It has its own settings for sounds and haptics.

Hi! Just wanted to chime in and say that I am also not experiencing the Wallet bug (knock on wood!) nor am I experiencing the issue with the app switcher and share sheet. I was also able to locate the "done" button on my Apple Card screen. I am, however, experiencing the bug while typing where the autocorrected word is not read aloud as it was before. For reference, I am running the same exact build as you (15, 19A346) on a 128 GB iPhone 12 Pro.