Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Accessibility Changes in iOS 16

by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern

Apple’s iOS 16 went to public release on September 12, 2022. This latest update brings several improvements to the lock screen, the mail app, iMessage and more, as detailed in this article from Apple. However, the company generally does not mention accessibility improvements in its press releases. This is where an article from AppleVis, a website specializing in the accessibility of Apple products, comes in. Every year, AppleVis covers the major accessibility developments in the newest iOS, and this year there are several. For example, the number of available voices and languages for VoiceOver has dramatically increased, with the full complement of languages supported by the Vocalizer Expressive voices from Nuance Communications, including the often-requested voices for Scottish English. This has been a feature of JAWS for years, and has also been available as an add-on for NVDA. VoiceOver also now includes the old ETI Eloquence voices familiar from JAWS, which many prefer due to their predictable nature and quick responsiveness. Other changes include fewer “actions available” announcements if desired, sound and haptic feedback in Apple Maps, improved detection capabilities for Magnifier, new live captions (beta), and better and customizable sound detection for deaf-blind users. A mainstream feature called automatic verification may soon allow iOS users to bypass captchas. Users with low vision, however, should be aware of one serious bug in this first release, where the use of inverted colors with VoiceOver causes the app switcher to malfunction. Other minor bugs in this initial software will likely be ironed out in later builds. You can find much more information in the three articles linked above.