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Chapter 6 – Screen Reader


Thanks for your interest in the Abra kick-off training about the accessibility of apps. My name is Paul van Workum and I am working in the field of app accessibility.

Screen Reader

All items on the screen are spoken by the screen reader. You can interact with gestures or a keyboard. For Android the screen reader is named TalkBack, for iOS it is VoiceOver. The screen reader is used by visually impaired people to perceive everything that is on the screen.


For the screen reader to work the keyboard interface should work properly and all visual information should have a correct label. Otherwise the screen reader will not announce it.

It is important that you know how to use the screen reader. Some accessibility issues can only be tested with the screen reader.

Activate screen reader

To turn on the screen reader, you go to ‘Settings’, then ‘Accessibility’ and for Android you select ‘TalkBack’, for iOS you select ‘VoiceOver’.

ScreenReader app

To learn the screen reader gestures, we created the ScreenReader app. In this app you can learn the gestures so you can use and test apps yourself.


Let’s go to the ScreenReader app, to test the gestures with the screen reader on.

Swipe left to go to the previous item.

(SCREEN READER: Select and speak item, Button)

Swipe right to go to the next item.

(SCREEN READER: Navigate to the next item, Completed)

Focus should go from top left to top right, from top to bottom. You can touch the screen anywhere with your finger. The information under your finger will be read.

(SCREEN READER: Tab Bar, VoiceOver, Tab, 1 of 4)

Double tap to activate items like buttons or links.

(SCREEN READER: Learn VoiceOver, Heading)

To bypass the screen reader you need an extra finger.&

  • For VoiceOver on iOS you need three fingers to switch between screens.
  • For TalkBack for Android you need two fingers.

Go to and learn how to use the screen reader yourself.