Now that we have spent a little more time with the iPad, it’s slightly more obvious how to do a few things. The voice over options have a learning page that is quite useful. You have to get the focus on the test area by right flicking or tapping it and then it walks you through all the gestures.
Here’s a list:
- Touch – select item, under finger
- Flick one finger up – move to previous item using rotor setting
- Flick one finger down – move to next item using rotor setting
- Flick one finger right – move to next item
- Flick one finger left – move to previous item
- Two finger flick up – read page starting at the top
- Two finger flick down – read page starting at selected item
- Two finger tap – start or stop action (like voice over reading) also used to pause the ordered reading in two finger actions to allow you to select an item
- Four finger flick left – move to previous container
- Four finger flick right – move to next container
- Four finger flick up – move to first element
- Four finger flick down – move to last element
- Three finger flick up – scroll down one page
- Three finger flick down – scroll up one page
- Three finger flick left – scroll right one page
- Three finger flick right – scroll left one page
Turns out you can have iBooks auto-turn the pages (I had gotten this working once and could not reproduce it and it was driving me nuts). A four finger swipe to the right reads the page, but stops at the end. Two finger swipe down starts the reading and it continues page to page. It was hard to get this to behave consistently, or so I thought at first.
For example, when trying two finger flick up, it started reading from the top – Library, Table of contents, book title, etc. but on the Winnie the Pooh book it never jumped to the text and started reading. A four finger swipe did get it started, a two finger tap to pause and then the two finger swipe up started the voice over and auto pagination. So, navigable, but you had to know what to do and the navigation isn’t consistently delivering what it promises. At first I thought this was just in this book, but Heart of Darkness behaved the same way (the horror, the horror) at first, but then I flicked to change pages, two finger flicked up and it started working, but didn’t auto-paginate and stopped at the last element (which, is technically correct).
A second try and it worked as it should and I was able to get auto pagination to start by tapping with two fingers to pause the reading, then tapping to start it again. I first thought this might be a bug, but on further thought it is seems to be a UI decision. The two finger swipe needs to consistently navigate through all the page elements, regardless of what they are. You need to know that the two finger swipe will get you to the bottom of the screen, reading all elements along the way. In the books app, this ends up being a little counter intuitive, since you feel like once you start the reading it should continue. So, the compromise seems to be the tap to pause and then tap to resume to get the pagination going. Seems like a reasonable decision.
The two finger swipe did solve my table of contents problem, a two finger swipe up correctly worked through the page elements and started reading the elements, two fingers to pause, double tap to select and you’re off to that chapter.
I did have a more serious issue with Safari in my second round of testing. With no WiFi connected, a four finger swipe down put the iPad into a lost navigation state, where I couldn’t get any voice over feedback or navigate at all. The cursor hung in the status bar and I could not get focus back on Safari. This remained true even after a reboot of the iPad. I couldn’t discover that the iPad was not connected to the Internet, so it was hard to tell what was going one. Seems like there should be a hook in there so if Safari loads with no Internet connection, there is a way to alert the user. It does do this if you have a page loaded and try to do something, but if you start with a blank page, you can get lost. With an Internet connection, everything behaved correctly and the combination of the rotor and the multi-finger swipe gestures made for some fairly efficient page navigation.
The Google search box in Safari popped up auto-suggestions to a search, but there was no notification from voice over that this had happened. A similar thing happened in the Google Maps application, the search worked, a two finger swipe started reading my map results, but a more info button got a dialog box that popped up, but there was no notification and no way to focus on that box and hear the contents. These seem like solvable problems.
So, round two of testing and I’m still impressed. For a just released device, the iPad has a lot of features that should enhance accessibility. Like many accessible devices, for a non-sighted person it would seem like it would be helpful to have a sighted person walk them through the initial set-up, describe the interface, etc. I do think there is a learning curve, but it seems short and mastering the gestures isn’t all that hard.