5 ways of typing with VoiceOver

VoiceOver is the screen reader built into IOS and Mac operating systems. Typing on a touch screen is a challenge for those who cannot see the screen and rely on screen reading technologies. However Apple has provided various mechanisms or ways in which users with visual challenges can type on a touch screen IOS device in conjunction with voiceover.

In this article I am going to explain only the inbuilt options and features in IOS but not about external keyboards or third party typing software such as Fleksy External Website. Also I am not discussing on the conventional (standard typing) method with voiceover.

Below are 5 different ways anyone can type on an IOS device.

Touch typing

To activate touch typing, follow the steps below.

  1. Navigate to any edit field such as compose message, notes app etc.
  2. Double tap the edit field to activate the keyboard and start typing.
  3. Twist with two fingers clock-wise and select typing mode.
  4. Once you here “typing mode”, flick with single finger from top to bottom to find the touch typing mode.

Typing with touch typing mode

When you activate touch typing, move your finger on the onscreen keyboard. When you hear the letter you need to type lift your finger to type it. Touch typing will be more useful for those who are familiar with the placement of keys on the keyboard. Be aware that changing the keyboard layout, keyboard type, activating cap slog, shift work in the standard way of double tapping twice with voiceover.

Using touch typing method in combination with prediction and auto correction makes typing further accurate and quicker.

Direct Touch typing

To activate direct touch typing, follow the steps below.

  1. Navigate to any edit field such as compose message, notes app etc.
  2. Double tap the edit field to activate the keyboard and start typing.
  3. Twist with two fingers clock-wise and select typing mode.
  4. Once you here “typing mode”, flick with single finger from top to bottom to find the direct touch typing mode.

Typing with direct touch typing mode

Direct touch typing method is similar to how a sited person types. When the user touches the character it will be typed. This is very much useful for low vision people who can see the keyboard to touch and rely on voiceover for feedback. Non sited users who can accurately point the finger where the character displayed can also be benefited but pointing to the character accurately is very difficult. With good practice and with the combination of auto-correction and prediction feature can improve the speed and accuracy in typing. Be aware that direct touch typing is not available in IOS 7 and earlier versions.

Hand writing

Activate hand writing with the following steps.

  1. Navigate to any edit field such as compose message, notes app etc.
  2. Double tap the edit field to activate the keyboard and start typing.
  3. Twist with two fingers in clock-wise direction to select hand writing mode.

Typing with hand writing

Hand writing method is very useful for those who know how the real character looks like. It means people who became blind after childhood can be benefited out of it. When the user is in the edit field and the rotor set to hand writing, draw the shape of the character on the screen and the character will be typed. To change the mode lower case to upper case or to numbers or symbols flick top to bottom with 3 fingers. Two finger flick from right to left deletes the character. Once done the typing twist the rotor away from hand writing to use the device as usual.

I have written an article on typing with hand writing earlier. Refer IOS 7 hand writing for a complete picture.

Dictation

Dictation is a method of inputting the data into the text field with voice recognition. A dictate button is available on the onscreen keyboard on the left side of spacebar. By double tapping on the dictate button user can start dictating. When finished two finger double tap will help stop recognising the speech. Wait for few second allowing the device to interpret the content and insert into the text field. Be aware that the dictate button will only work when the device has internet connection enabled.

Siri

Siri is the speech recognition software built into IOS. It is not a typing method, but can perform some typing tasks such as typing a message and sending to the receiver SIRI can be activated by pressing and holding the home button for few seconds. Siri also need internet connection without which it will not work.

Additional steps for fast typing

Screenshot showing keyboard settings in IOS 8

Using predictive

Activate predictive option under

  1. Settings >
  2. General>
  3. Keyboard>
  4. Predictive (on/ off).

While typing the content in the edit field IOS will show some word guesses. When you start typing Go you can find words such as God, Good etc. Once you double tap on the word “good” the software show the predictions such as luck, morning, night etc allowing the user to type Good morning, Good luck or Good night. These predictive words are read by voiceover after the text field and before the keyboard. Double tap on the correct word to input it into the text field.

Auto-correction

Activate auto-correction feature under

  1. Settings >
  2. General>
  3. Keyboard>
  4. Auto-correction (on/ off)

By activating this feature IOS can identify any spelling mistakes and can correct them on the fly. This feature is much useful while typing with direct touch typing. If the user type the characters such as kyar, IOS guess the characters near to these alphabets and correct them as just.

Short-cut option

Short cut is an option inbuilt in IOS. This helps in creating short-cut for some frequently used phrases. Eg: I have set short-cut for “My email id is rakesh@maxability.co.in “to the command “em”. Whenever I need to text my email address to someone, I just type “em” and the entire sentence will be inputted into the text field.

Seems interesting? Give it a try today.

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