Switch access with VoiceOver on iOS

Hardware & Accessories

Hello all,
I have a client I'm working with who has no sight and is slowly losing the use of her hands (it is now very painful for her to type)

She is looking to upgrade as she wants to use her voice more, although Siri will help her with certain tasks it obviously won't do everything.

She could I believe access a large switch with the press of a button, so my thinking is she could use a switch for navigating the iPad or iPod touch BUT I've never come across anyone using switch access with voiceover. Is there anyone out there with experience of this? if so how do you get it to work? I can imagine there being quite a few conflicting elements as voiceover uses some complex gestures that a switch couldn't do. Even if we could get it to double tap and also access Siri??

Any help would be gratefully received.

Many thanks




Submitted by Paul Martin on Thursday, May 19, 2016

This is indeed an interesting situation to which there's no simple answer. In short: Voiceover and switch Control will not run at the same time, though there may be a few methods for moving between the 2 which may have to involve both Siri and the "accessibility shortcut".
It seems as though switch Control can voice what's on screen, and even move between items in a similar fashion to voiceover, though I've not done the most testing on this. I'm getting the picture of using a switch to flick between items. Further, there's a "Group Items", which it seems to me would employ similar methods to the interaction in Mac OS. This I imagine would help greatly with her navigating in iOS. A note about navigation though, she wouldn't be double-tapping with switch Control active, but tapping once on the screen or activating a switch assigned to invoke an item as one would without Voiceover activated.
For invoking Siri and other actions, recipes might be worth a look, though I've not a clue how they work yet.
Sorry I can't be of more assistance at this point, though I'll toy with Switch Control out of curiosity among other motivations. Feel free to post here if there's any other burning questions.

Submitted by Elena Brescacin on Thursday, May 19, 2016

I am facing the same problem with another person who has sight and hands difficulties, I found the switch control functionality but I do not find the proper configuration.
I must tell you that you can set Switch control functions by using VoiceOver, but you can't use switch's functionality and VoiceOver simultaneously.
Let me attempt to explain.
You go to settings, general, accessibility, switch control.
The flag to enable the function, if VoiceOver is active, will be unavailable, dimmed.
But you can add switches and set their functionality; you will find a setting, in that Window, which allows you to enable voice. So, the phone or tablet will talk while you perform actions.
You can configure many switches and many actions with them, unfortunately I have not enough knowledge on the actions and proper configuration for a visually impaired person with hands problems, I am searching for switches experts myself.
But I just wanted to let you know you can use voice with switch control without having VoiceOver; you'll need sighted assistance to set switches up, I mean the hardware switches, they often have leds and display to allow programming them.

Submitted by Mark Upton on Monday, May 23, 2016

Thanks, I've tried using switch access with the voice, it is ok, but quite tiring and you do miss a lot, although speeding voice up and slowing down the time between each selection does help.

I don't have any switches to play with at the moment, but used the full screen switch, for starters, with another switch to control Siri this could work for her, although what she does may be quite limited.

Submitted by Paul Martin on Monday, May 23, 2016

Sounds like at this point automatic scanning was used? I'd instead suggest manual style, giving it more of a Voiceover feel. This should alleviate the issue of info being scrolled through too quickly at some points and too slowly at others as the move to previous and next item action can be thought of much like using quick nav on a keyboard. To get a better feeling of this before switches can be obtained, I'd suggest using the camera head movement switches. Note the front facing camera is used for those switches.

Ahh I wasn't aware you could turn it off, I find the switch settings quite confusing, I'll give that a try although if you use the full screen as the switch to move to the next item you wouldn't be able to select it? Is this where head movement comes in? I'll try and get hold of a bluetooth switch to have more control.


Submitted by techluver on Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hi, I saw apple was selling switches at the apple store online. you might be able to get a hold of one there.

As stated VoiceOver and Switch Control do not work together. I am a teacher of the visually impaired and work with several physically handicapped, blind students who are using an interface called Switch2Scan. This device has a VoiceOver option and a standard switch option. Up to 4 switches can be connected to the device.