Direct Touch Question

iOS and iPadOS

Hi everyone,

I came across a few mentions of "Direct Touch" on the forum today, which seems to be a feature that will allow touches/gestures to bypass VO. This seems like it could be super useful, however I am not able to find it anywhere in my settings. How can I activate it? I am running an iPhone 8 on 14.1, if that helps.

Thanks so much!



Submitted by Clare Page on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Hi! Direct Touch is not in the IOS settings, as far as I know. In some apps, games for example, VoiceOver may say Direct Touch Area, and, if you can't operate VOin that app, you can turn Direct Touch on in the rotor: it's one of those rotor options which appears when needed but which can't be added in the VoiceOver settings. I hope this helps!

Submitted by Mabbs92 on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

In reply to by Clare Page

Ah ok, this is so helpful, thank you!! Could you give me an example or two of apps where this appears in the rotor? I've never heard of it before and would love to play with it. I wish it was a feature that was enabled universally if the user chose; it would be helpful in cases where VO is not activating buttons etc that would work otherwise.

Thanks again for your input!

Submitted by Sagar on Thursday, October 22, 2020

Hi there what you need to do is, open any text field then rotate to typing using router swipe up and down with a single finger till you find direct touch, hope that helps

Submitted by dvdmth on Thursday, October 22, 2020

Club AppleVis Member

The most common use case for Direct Touch is in games, such as the Blindfold Games, which have their own method of providing accessibility that bypasses VoiceOver, or which require a more complex set of gestures than what VoiceOver allows natively. When developing such an app, a developer can declare a region of the screen as allowing direct interaction, which tells VoiceOver to ignore gestures within that area.

Whenever a region with direct interaction is focused by VoiceOver, a rotor option appears called Direct Touch which can be used to enable or disable the passthrough behavior. Prior to iOS 14, direct touch was always enabled by default, so you didn't have to use the rotor to activate the feature. However, it also made the feature hard to turn off, especially when the direct touch area used up most of the screen, because you have to access the rotor in an area of the screen that didn't have the direct touch property, or else use a hardware keyboard or braille display to access the rotor.

Beginning in iOS 14, direct touch is disabled by default, meaning you must access the rotor and turn it on before your gestures will be properly handled by the app. On the one hand, it makes sense given how hard it can be to turn the feature off it you don't want it. However, in most cases the direct touch behavior is necessary to use the app, so making the user turn it on manually adds a layer of complexity to the user experience. I personally don't like the change and would love to see Apple give me the choice of default behavior in these apps.