Help needed with Zoom feature on iPhone

Low Vision Accessibility on Apple Products

Hi guys. My 75 year old mother has sight issues. Around 5% left in one eye and her "good" eye has around 40% but has a thing growing on the back of it which the surgeons don't want to touch in fear of destroying the last of her sight.

So anyway... She could no longer see the buttons on her phone to call people so I bought her an iPhone 6 plus because of both the screen size and accessibility options in iOS 8.

The Zoom function she's trying to learn to use but I've noticed a bug that's teally confusing her. Had me confused for a bit too. So you turn on zoom by tapping the screen a few times with 3 fingers. The zoom window opens up. All good.

In the settings there is an option called "follow focus". When this is on the zoom window acts just like a magnifying glass. You drag it around the screen with your finger and it enlarges things. Great.

Only for some reason the follow focus just turns itself off although the setting is still set to on. The only way to get it to come back is to turn off follow focus and zoom then zoom back in and follow focus back on.

Does anyone know either how to stop that happening or, an alternative app that's good for a low sight user that's not too good with technology.

Oh and yes I know the iPhone 6 is an advanced phone but the iOS interfaceis simple enough for a child to use, hence why I picked an apple product for my mother.



Submitted by david s on Sunday, March 8, 2015


Considering her vision and age, I would suggest she learn/use Voice Over and Siri. I am not trying to be disrespectful. I helped a few people in the same situation and they find the zoom and moving things around frustrating.

What I do is turn on Voice Over and tell them to touch anywhere on the screen and listen. Get them to flick left right then double tap to open. They can still see the screen albeit they will say it’s too small. This is where you tell them why VO is nice. Also let her play with Siri by asking where am I or what’s the weather like outside? Have her ask Siri to dial your number to let her know she does not need to worry about dialing your number using the keypad. Soon she’ll forget about trying to read the screen. You can also download a free app called Voice Over Tuturial that will teach her basic VO gestures in a playful way. Pretty soon she’ll be asking you about Facebook and Youtube. LOL.

I hope this works for you as well as it worked for me when I had to help older people adjust to new technology. Good Luck!

Submitted by Nick on Sunday, March 8, 2015

I've been playing with Siri today so that I canadvise her with it. It seems to work really well so she may be able to use that.

We did try voice over but it's the most frustrating thing in the universe when your not familiar with it.

Even me I'm talking. I got stuck in a screen and every time I tried to get out of the screen it just kept voice overing the close buttons and stuff. I turned it offin frustration. If I can't handle it there no way she can.
Mint worry about the disrespect thing I'm here for advice about this.

I still think the iPhone is the answer for her. She took it away over the weekend and she's slowly trying to learn it

She comes back this week and I think I will introduce her to Siri.

Submitted by david s on Sunday, March 8, 2015


I can understand how frustrating Voice Over is in the beginning. I’m sure all of us felt the same way until we understood how it works. Remember that VO changes all hand gestures. A single tap to open an app is now a double tap. Double tap to select an item. Single tap to figure out what it is. Swipe left or right with one finger to move to the previous or next item. Three finger swipe left or right to move to the previous or next page.

The Voice Over Tutorial is an app that lets you try the different guesters as you go along. It’s how I’ve walked people through Voice Over. Yep, even older folks.

Anyway, don’t give up and if you run into problems. Just post here.


I've tried to research the problem via Google in hopes that there might be a helpful solution. Unfortunately, all the results didn't look too promising. Still, I've managed to find an article that gives attention to the follow focus feature. Plus there's more discussion of other abilities within the operating system, so it's worth a read. The link is below:…

Another suggestion you may want to try is to look through Apple's user guide, which according to a search can be found by accessing Safari or iBooks. I'm also going to include their accessibility number; you can contact them to see if they would be able to assist you. It is: 877-204-3930.

I agree with the idea of using VoiceOver. If the magnification options continue to be an issue, the screen reader will prove very beneficial. In fact, being able to use it will give the individual an advantage if their vision witnesses a further decrease. I hope this helps, and I wish you luck with everything.

Submitted by Nick on Monday, March 9, 2015

Well Mum came home today and the zoom / magnifier was broken again. Not only was it not zooming but I couldnt get it off the screen with the usual 3 finger tap tap. I ended up having to go into settings and turning it off altogether.

So I turned it off and gave the phone a quick restart, handed it back to my mother and introduced her to Siri.

Her eyes lit up and she said "oh thats much better" so we MAY be onto a winner there.

Only thing with Siri is she does not read web pages or much else, Apple have left that up to Voice over.

Does anyone know of any good third party apps for this sort of thing?

I will try voice over again on the weekend but its such a frustrating thing as I've already mentioned that its almost offensive LOL

Thanks for the link and phone number too I will check out both of them.

Submitted by DPinWI on Monday, March 9, 2015

Siri can read web pages independent of Voice Over. Under the Speech section of the Accessibility settings, you can find Speak Screen. Turn it on and then when she is on a web page, she can tell Siri to Speak Screen. Siri will dutifully read the web page.

Submitted by Philh on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hi agree with much said here, voiceover can open up a lot of uses. However, I work with a lot of visually impaired older people who never get to grips with voiceover despite realising they need to stick at it.
This means that zoom suits many people. The problems of zoom in recent IOS versions are many, including failing to follow focus in pages / word and a complete inability to magnify the text field when writing a text message. (you can't magnify this in window zoom and keep the whole keyboard. Using an iPad / iPhone is difficult enough at first for older folk, but all the bugs can stop them using them completely without a lot of support

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