WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

VoiceOver on Mobile


VoiceOver is a screen reader program that comes installed on iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices (see Using VoiceOver to Evaluate Web Accessibility to learn about VoiceOver for Mac). This article is intended to provide a basic understanding of VoiceOver and some of its features for the purpose of basic navigation and evaluation of web content in mobile Safari.

Enabling VoiceOver

Depending on your device and software version, the steps to enable or disable VoiceOver may vary slightly. Go to Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver, then enable the toggle button to activate VoiceOver. Alternatively, you can turn on VoiceOver by telling Siri "Turn on VoiceOver."

In the Accessibility settings are options for setting the Accessibility Shortcut to VoiceOver, which will allow you to triple-click the Home button (or Side button) to activate VoiceOver.

VoiceOver is disabled the same way as it is enabled . You will need the Accessibility Shortcut enabled to use the Home or Side button to disable it by triple clicking.


The rotor gives you the option to navigate a page by specified elements. To use the rotor, rotate two fingers on the screen of the device either clockwise or counter-clockwise to change the setting. Rotating will cycle through the available options. Once an option is selected, this will change the element by which you can navigate through the page when using an upward or downward swipe. For example, if "Links" is selected in the Rotor, swiping down will move to the next link on a page. Swiping up will move to the previous link.

You can customize the available Rotor options in Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > Rotor. The most useful options to enable for accessibility testing are Lines, Speaking Rate (to speed up or slow down the speech rate), Headings, Links, Form Controls, Tables, Landmarks, Buttons, and Images. Other options may be useful in some circumstances, and this can be customized to your liking. Some options may only be available within the Rotor under specific conditions. For a more detailed explanation of the rotor, please see Apple's VoiceOver article


Evaluating web accessibility on a mobile device is not so different from testing on a desktop browser. The same WCAG requirements that apply to a desktop version of a webpage apply to a mobile version as well. You will also want to test the WCAG 2.1 Input Modalities success criteria on mobile.

Basic testing can be conducted by doing the following:

  1. Load the web page in mobile Safari.
  2. Enable VoiceOver (see instructions above).
  3. Swipe down with two fingers to listen to the entire page content.
  4. Change the Rotor option to an element of interest (such as Links, Buttons, Landmarks, or Images).
  5. Swipe down (next element) or up (previous element) to navigate through elements.

To activate an element, such as a link or form control, either navigate to it by swiping or slide your finger over it until it is read, then double tap anywhere on the screen. Typing text is also done by sliding your finger to a character in the on-screen keyboard, then double tapping.

It is advisable to also conduct VoiceOver testing with a Bluetooth keyboard to ensure the content or application supports mobile keyboard accessibility. It is also useful to test without looking at the screen to ensure a more authentic experience.