Potential Telegram solution (and for other inaccessible apps)

iOS and iPadOS

Edit: The below is no unnecessary as Telegram for iOS now supports VoiceOver, and it mostly works!

My wife is blind and tried to use Telegram. Only then did we realise how inaccessible it was; which is bizarre for a text-focussed messaging app that seems to use standard UI components.

I did some digging and saw that the interface is custom and there is close to 0 provision for VoiceOver.

I have raised tickets/issues on the main Telegram code repositories pointing out the problem and sent emails to the telegram team (a handful of programmers based out in Dubai). I see there's not been any response so far but one more voice may help.

I've also evaluated the few 3rd party telegram apps on iOS - most are very old, or are nothing more than simple clones of Telegram itself with the same accessibility issues. One app 'Bettergram' looked promising at first as it's only just been released and the developers have created their own UI, but sadly, it also has no support for VoiceOver. However; it may be easier for them to add accessibility than the developers of the official app. I've contacted them asking if it's being considered.

I know IM+ has been suggested as a way of accessing Telegram - but this looks more like simply a 'shell' around the web version of Telegram.

I have found a possible alternative:

There's an app called Riot.im; it works with VoiceOver and is being actively developed.

Riot.im allows you to access a service called 'Matrix' (matrix.org). Matrix is an initiative to ensure all chat/messaging clients become interoperable. So, for example, if one person decides to use Telegram and another person Skype, they don't have to download each others software to have a conversation (just as you don't need to download Microsoft Outlook to send an email to someone who happens to use Microsoft Outlook.

So, you use riot.im on your iphone (or download any other program which allows you to connect to matrix). Once you're connected to matrix you can then create a 'bridge' between a room in matrix, or you as an individual, and a room in another chat service (or a direct connection to another user).

Those on the 'receiving end' do need to accept the bridge; but if you've got friends, a study group, a community group etc. using e.g. Telegram this will allow you to join and participate, it's pretty easy to setup and you only do it one time.

I don't think file sharing works (haven't tried it yet), but you can certainly chat.

Bridges include:

IRC, Discord, Gitter, Slack, Skype and more.

Matrix is here: https://matrix.org/docs/projects/try-matrix-now.html

Happy to answer any other questions or help with tech setup etc.



Submitted by Malthe on Thursday, January 3, 2019

If you're looking for an accessible, end-to-end encrypted messenger solution, Signal for iOS is very accessible!
The developers are also receptive to feedback on accessibility.


Submitted by roman on Thursday, January 3, 2019

Hey I am a whats app user, and it is totally exssesble. thanks

Submitted by Jose María Ortiz Silva on Friday, January 4, 2019


Could you tell us more about how to set up Telegram access to chat with someone else? How can you access a group?

I have already downloaded the application and created an account.

Thank you

Submitted by db on Sunday, March 3, 2019

Well, I was going to come back with a convoluted reply but it turns out that Telegram for iOS will get full VoiceOver Support this month. In fact if you download the app now you'll find it mostly supporters voiceover already as of the most recent release...!

Submitted by alex wallis on Sunday, March 3, 2019

your right VoiceOver support seems to have dramatically impproved, but I do still see quite a few unlabeled buttons plus I can't figure out how to clear chats. in settings there is also an issue when you open some settings of not being able to close out of settings without exiting telegram. also if I go into privacy its not at all clear what some of the switches do that say they are on. But over all considering I couldn't do anything at all with telegram last time I tried to use it its a big step forward.
I found the edit button in the chats list, I found out that deleting chats isn't accessible I tap edit, and I have two messages one from telegram and another saying someone joined telegram, when I tap these chats I get no indication that the chats are selected, and I locate a button that isn't properly labeled that says possible text delete chats, but when I tap this nothing happens. so it seems as though deleting chats isn't accessible. another thing, I believe its possible to brows public groups on telegram or search for groups I can see no option to do with searching for or browsing let alone joining groups.