Building accessible apps

With built-in accessibility features, accessibility APIs, and developer tools, Apple operating systems provide extraordinary opportunities to deliver high-quality experiences to everyone, including people with disabilities. Take advantage of VoiceOver — the revolutionary screen reader for blind and low-vision users — Switch Control, Guided Access, Text to Speech, closed-captioned or audio-described video, and more.

A MacBook Pro with Xcode, Accessibility Inspector, and Simulator windows open. Accessibility Inspector is being used to review the simulated iPhone 13 Pro app’s hierarchy.

    What’s new

    Quick Actions

    Quick Actions in watchOS 9 let people quickly perform common tasks within your app. When your app uses the Quick Actions API, people can assign an action and activate that action with a double-pinch gesture. For example, with Quick Actions built into Apple Watch, users can:

    • Answer and end a phone call.
    • Dismiss a notification.
    • Take a photo.
    • Pause and resume an active workout.

    Quick Actions build on the innovative technology used in AssistiveTouch on Apple Watch. Learn about AssistiveTouch.

    WWDC22 sessions

    Vision

    Apple devices include a wide variety of features and assistive technologies to support users who are blind or have low vision, such as display and text settings, screen and cursor magnification, a full-featured screen reader, and much more.

    VoiceOver

    VoiceOver is a screen reader that enables people to experience an app’s interface without having to see the screen. With touch gestures on iOS and iPadOS, keyboard buttons on macOS, and remote buttons on tvOS, VoiceOver users can move through your app’s UI in reading order, from the top of the screen to the bottom, and receive descriptions in over 60 languages and locales of UI controls, text, and images audibly or in braille.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS

    Speech

    Apple’s devices can read selected text from your app out loud in over 60 languages and locales, and you can adjust the voice’s dialect and speaking rate. The AVSpeechSynthesizer class produces synthesized speech from text on a device, and provides methods for controlling or monitoring the progress of ongoing speech.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS

    Dynamic Type

    Dynamic Type allows users to choose the text size of content displayed on the screen for better readability. It also accommodates those who can read smaller text, allowing more information to appear on the screen. Apps that support Dynamic Type also provide a more consistent reading experience.

    iOS, iPadOS, watchOS

    Display customization

    There are a range of features to customize the display, including Bold Text, Increase Contrast, Reduce Transparency, Smart Invert, Differentiate Without Color, On/Off Labels, Button Shapes, Dark Mode, and Reduce Motion. Use UIAccessibility APIs to detect when these settings are enabled so that your app behaves correctly.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS

    Audio descriptions and captions

    Let people watch movies with detailed audio descriptions of every scene on iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, or iPod touch. Use AVFoundation with built-in support for captioning and audio descriptions during media playback in your apps.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS

    Mobility

    Apple has multiple solutions that help users with limited physical or motor abilities use your apps. Both Voice Control and Switch Control use the accessibility hierarchy to interact with elements within your app.

    Voice Control

    If your app implements the Accessibility APIs, Voice Control users can navigate your app’s interface using just their voice. Commands like click, swipe, and tap, allow them to interact with elements within your app, through the Accessibility APIs.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS

    Switch Control

    With Switch Control, users can navigate your app’s interface using a variety of adaptive devices, such as a switch, joystick, keyboard Space bar, or trackpad. They can navigate your app by scanning through each UI item, either by manually activating their switch or auto scanning the interface. Once the desired item is reached, users can perform the appropriate action with their device. To provide a great experience, make sure to use the Accessibility API.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS

    Keyboard support

    Provide keyboard shortcuts so that people who don’t navigate using a mouse due to limited motor skills can still fully access your app’s features.

    macOS

    iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS

    Haptics

    Haptic feedback on Apple Watch can provide valuable information to everyone, but it can be particularly useful to those with a range of disabilities. With access to the Taptic Engine, you can add haptic feedback in your apps.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS

    Hearing

    Apple accessibility technologies contain multiple features to accommodate people who are deaf or hard of hearing, including captions, system translation, Made For iPhone (MFi) hearing aid support, sound recognition, and Comfort Sounds.

    Captions

    Let people watch movies with closed captions or subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) for all audio in every scene on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. Use AVFoundation with built-in support for captioning during media playback in your apps.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS

    Hearing devices

    Top manufacturers have created hearing aids and sound processors designed specifically for iPhone and iPad. These advanced hearing devices provide outstanding sound quality, offer many helpful features, and are as easy to set up and use as any other Bluetooth device.

    People can instantly apply their audiologist’s suggested environmental presets as they go outdoors or enter noisy locations, such as restaurants, without having to rely on additional remotes. If you’re a hearing aid manufacturer and want to make your devices compatible with Apple devices, consult the resources below.

    iOS, iPadOS

    Cognitive

    Apple products contain many technologies that can fit the different ways users learn or communicate, including Guided Access, captions, word prediction, and SafariReader.

    Guided Access

    Guided Access helps people with autism or other attention and sensory challenges stay focused on the task at hand. Implementing the Guided Access protocol in your app lets you specify which parts of your apps are functional, depending on the user’s needs.

    iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS

    Resources

    Learn how to build accessible apps with Apple developer tools, documentation, videos, and sample code.

    View resources