Thursday 21 June 2018
Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious 
 (Thursday of week 11 in Ordinary Time)
About today  

Universalis with VoiceOver

VoiceOver is Apple's screen-reader technology that allows blind and partially-sighted people to use the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Apple's documentation describes VoiceOver in greater detail, for the iPhone and for the iPod Touch.

General instructions for VoiceOver: Apple's instructions for all the iPhone's accessibility features can be found on their web site: these include the general Accessibility page, VoiceOver Gestures, and Using VoiceOver. You can see other links on the left-hand side on any of those Apple pages.

The calendar view

In Universalis, the calendar view lets you view and scroll through the liturgical calendar. VoiceOver tends to inform you that you are in this view by announcing "Pick Button", because that is the first button on the screen.

The Pick button and the date selector

At the top left-hand corner of the screen is the Pick button. This pops up a date selector, which takes up the bottom half of the screen. The date selector has three wheels, for day, month, and year. These wheels are side by side, and you can swipe each of them up or down to change the selected date. Quite a rapid swipe is needed.

There is a bug in the current iPhone operating system (3.1.3). When you swipe down, for example when moving from September to August, VoiceOver correctly announces "August". But if you swipe up, for example, when moving from September to October, VoiceOver announces the old month, "September", and not the new one. To make sure you have the right date, single-tap on each of the three parts of the date control: day, month, and year.

At the bottom of the date control there are three buttons: Done goes to the selected date, Cancel returns to the date you were on before, and Today takes you straight to today's date.

The main Calendar view

The middle of the calendar screen contains a list of dates, typically about eight of them. To start with, the currently chosen date is in the middle.

If you tap once on a date, it will be selected and VoiceOver will announce the date and the feast that occurs on that date. If you are moving only a short distance in time then you'll find that tapping on the main Calendar view is a much simpler way of getting to the date you want than trying to use the Pick button and the date selector.

Once you have selected a date, you can read the Universalis pages for that date, by going to the Page view. There are two ways of doing this: you can use the Read button at the top right-hand corner of the screen, or you can double-tap in the middle of the screen. This won't change your date selection but will take you to a Universalis page.

The menu button

At the bottom left-hand corner of the screen there is a button that announces itself as simply "Button". This opens a menu that lets you choose the current local calendar, and to select other settings, including the translations you want to use.

The page view

The page view shows you one particular page for your chosen day. VoiceOver tends to inform you that you are in this view by announcing "Date Button", because that is the first button on the screen.

The Date button

At the top left-hand corner of the screen is the Date button. This takes you back to the calendar view.

The Hour button

At the top right-hand corner of the screen is the Hour button. This takes you to a list of all the available Hours in Universalis: Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and so on, as well as About Today and Readings at Mass.

The main Page view

The main part of the screen contains the text of your chosen page. For sighted users, this is a long, scrolling page. When you use VoiceOver, tapping once on the screen will make VoiceOver read out the entire page.

You can pause and resume the reading by tapping with two fingers at once.

VoiceOver does not provide a way of going backwards and forwards in a reading: it can only ever read the page from the beginning. If you find this maddening, you are not alone.

It is a good idea to turn off auto-lock, by using the General part of the Settings application. If you don't, then VoiceOver will interrupt its reading with the words "Screen Locked"and when you unlock the screen there is no way to continue: you have to start again from the beginning.

You should also take care not to change the orientation of your iPhone while it is reading the text to you. If you accidentally change from portrait to landscape mode, VoiceOver will interrupt the reading to announce the change and, again, your only option is to start again from the beginning.