AT for Non-Visual Access

BrailleNote Touch screenAre you a student learning to use non-visual access technology? PRCVI invites you to join our Student-Directed Outreach series focused on Non-Visual Access Technology!

Join the PRCVI outreach team and fellow students for sessions focused on learning non-visual accesses technology skills. Each session will focus on a specific AT-related theme. After a brief introduction to the week’s theme and a few examples over screen sharing, discussion will focus on answering questions from students as well as sharing of information, strategies, and solutions. The exact content of each session will be directed by student questions and needs.

All sessions will be held on Zoom - connection information posted to the BC TSVI Yammer account each Monday. 

Students are encouraged to email in their questions ahead of time and to bring any questions, experiences, or strategies they have already developed to share with the group. Emails can be sent directly to Jen Jesso at

A summary of topics discussed as well as any resources shared will be posted on this page following each session

In this session, we went over the basics of navigating with a braille display and made some discoveries about more advanced commands and features, such as the Item Chooser! Below are notes on the specific commands and features covered:

  • Move to next item (similar to swiping right on the touchscreen): Dot 4 plus space.
  • Move to previous item (same as swiping left on the touchscreen): Dot 1 plus space.
  • Activate an item (same as double-tapping): Dots 3-6 with space or click a cursor routing button on the braille display.
  • Escape or back out of a screen: Dots 1-2 plus space.
  • Activate VoiceOver help (useful for double-checking a command before using it): Dots 1-3 plus space.
  • Move one page to the right (same as swiping left with three fingers): Dots 1-3-5 plus space.
  • Move one page to the left (same as swiping right with three fingers): Dots 2-4-6 plus space.
  • Move up one page (same as swiping down with three fingers): Dots 3-4-5-6 plus space
  • Move down one page (same as swiping up with three fingers): Dots 1-4-5-6 plus space.
  • Go to top of screen: Dots 1-2-3 plus space.
  • Go to bottom of screen: Dots 4-5-6 with space.
  • Activate the Item Chooser (brings up a list of all items on the screen that can be searched/filtered to quickly find a particular item): Dots 2-4 plus space (the Escape/Back command, dots 1-2 plus space, exist the Item Chooser).
  • Undo command (undo an action): Dots 1-3-5-6 plus space.
  • Activate the Control Centre (same as swiping down from top edge of screen): Dots 2-5 plus space.

We had another great session where we reviewed the VoiceOver braille commands covered in the previous session, and also covered an introduction to using the Rotor and editing text. (See the guides on VoiceOver Rotor Overview and Customization for more information on the Rotor.)

The Rotor is a feature that allows you to quickly move to different elements on the screen. The contents of the Rotor will change based on the app being used. For example, using the Rotor on the Home screen will have different options than using the Rotor on a website. The following commands were covered

  • Move to previous Rotor option: Dots 2-3 plus space.
  • Move to next Rotor option: Dots 5-6 plus space.
  • Move backward by selected Rotor option: Dot 3 plus space.
  • Move forward by selected Rotor option: Dot 6 plus space.

We also covered an introduction to editing text. When on an edit field, you need to make sure that VoiceOver says "is editing" and/or that a blinking cursor appears on your braille display to ensure you're ready to edit text—otherwise you will not be able to type text. The cursor appears between two letters, and is shown on the braille display with dot 8 of the first cell raised and dot 7 of the second cell raised (the visual blinking cursor appears between those two cells).

  • Delete text (backspace): Dot 7 (far left dot on braille input keys)
  • New line (enter): Dot 8 (far right dot on braille input keys)

We also covered how to select text. There are two ways of doing this, and only one way was demonstrated due to technical difficulties! The first method of selecting text is to set the Rotor to the element that you want to select (for example, set the Rotor to Lines if you want to select a few lines of text), and then use the following commands:

  • Select text to the left: Dot 2-5-6 plus space.
  • Select text to the right: Dots 2-4-5 plus space.

The second method of selecting text is to use the following commands with the Rotor set to Text Selection. You will notice that the below commands are the same as the Rotor commands outlined above; to use these commands as normal for other Rotor functions, the Rotor must be moved away from Text Selection first with Dots 2-3 plus space or Dots 5-6 plus space.

  • Move back through text selection units: Dot 3 plus space.
  • Move forward through text selection units: Dot 6 plus space.
  • Select text to the left by selected unit: Dot 1 plus space.
  • Select text to the right by selected unit: Dot 4 plus space.

This session focused on using iOS gestures on the iPad touchscreen. We reviewed the basics, and then learned some more advanced commands. Here's what was covered:

  • Move forward one item - swipe right with one finger
  • Move backwards one item - swipe left with one finger
  • Scroll left one page - swipe right with three fingers
  • Scroll right one page - swipe left with three fingers
  • Scroll down one page - swipe up with three fingers
  • Scroll up one page - swipe down with three fingers
  • Move to top of screen - four finger single tap in top half of screen
  • Move to bottom of screen - four finger single tap in bottom half of screen
  • Go back (same as double-tapping on the back button, also performs an undo action) - two finger scrub (back-and-forth or Z motion on screen)
  • Use the rotor - rotate two fingers on screen (as if turning a dial)
  • Move to previous rotor item - swipe up with one finger
  • Move to next rotor item - swipe down with one finger
  • Start dictating text (when in edit mode) - two finger double tap (the same gesture stops dictation)
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