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Are Braille Bugs Biting You In iOS 16? Here Is Some Bug Repellent To Help

Person using a braille display and iPhone

By Scott Davert, Coordinator: Technology, Research and Innovation Center

September 23, 2022

Introduction

As many may already be aware, iOS 16 was released on September 12. For details about many of the new features and changes, please see my article What’s New In iOS 16 Accessibility For Blind And DeafBlind Users. Along with every major release come new bugs, and iOS 16 is no exception. For a list of bugs present as detected by the AppleVis Editorial Team, you can visit the blog post entitled The Accessibility Bugs Introduced and Resolved in iOS 16 for Blind and Low Vision Users. Though Apple recently released iOS 16.0.2 which addresses some VoiceOver issues, it did not  address a number of bugs related to the editing of text. Though not all users are experiencing these bugs, many are. They seem most common on the iPhone SE 2 and iPhone SE 3, but users on the iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 12 Mini are also reporting these shortcomings. The purpose of this posting is to discuss workarounds for some of these bugs.

The following editing commands do not work when using a braille display keyboard: Select All, Copy, Paste, Undo and Cut

Though there aren’t any replacements for these keyboard shortcuts on a braille display, there are ways to still accomplish what you need to using these functions. As an example, let’s say that you have a note full of text that you would like to select, copy to the clipboard and then paste into an email. Though you could use the share sheet, it is sometimes faster to use keyboard commands instead. To select all of the text in your note, do the following:

  1. Press space with 2-3 or space with 5-6 until you reach the VoiceOver Rotor option called “edit”.
  2. Press space with dot 3 or space with dot 6 until you receive the VoiceOver announcement “select all”

3. Press space with 3-6, and the text should now all be highlighted.

To copy the text:

1. Press space with 2-3 or 5-6 until finding the “edit” rotor option.

2. Press space with dot 3 or 6 until you reach “copy”.

3. Press space with dots 3-6 to copy the text to your iOS device’s clipboard.

Now that the text is copied, move to any text field where you would like to paste the text and do the following:

1. Press space with dots 2-3 or 5-6 until reaching the “edit” rotor.

2. Press space with dot 3 or space with dot 6 to find the option for “paste”.

3. Press space with 3-6 to paste the text you copied from one app to the other.

When entering text using a braille keyboard, pressing dot 8 invokes a menu and does not create a new line as expected.

There is an alternative way of adding new lines to text that can be used with the Bluetooth keyboard. This involves first pressing the Option key and then quickly following this up with the Enter key. It is also possible To emulate the Option key on a Perkins-Style braille keyboard. This can be achieved by pressing space with dots 2-7. Follow this up quickly with dot 8 and your new line should be inserted.

This bug also impacts users who would normally press dot 8 to activate the “send” button in the Messages application. An alternative method to activate the “send” button  would be to press dot for with space after typing your text [AB1] and VoiceOver should land on the “send” button. Press a cursor routing button or space with dots 3-6 to activate it.

Conclusion

Many of the bugs being reported by braille users in iOS 16 have workarounds which make them less severe. However, the issues surrounding the editing of long documents and jumping cursor remain a concern. When Apple releases an update addressing some of the issues listed above, this blog will be updated accordingly.

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