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Guide to using your calendar with VoiceOver

A quick blueprint to have an overview of the events and tasks in your calendar using VoiceOver.

Hey, I’m Danny from Hable. I am also a Voice-Over user on the laptop and iPhone. I had a problem with being able to use my calendar as a visually impaired person a while ago but then I dived all the way into the calendar app to find out how it works. I want to share how I go about it using only swipe gestures.

The calendar app of the iPhone works with three different overview modes.

The three modes are:

1) Monthly overview without activity names. 

2) Monthly overview with activity names.

3) List of day overviews including activity names. 

Overview mode 1 - Monthly overview without activity names.  

If you want to activate mode 1, you can select or deselect the second item on the screen called 'list button'. If this is not selected, you are in the monthly overview without activity names. If this is selected, you have a monthly overview with activity names, which is mode 2. 

The overview without activity names between these two modes, as contradictory as that sounds, is best for non-visual Voice-Over use. This is because the overview mode with activity names, like many apps and software, are made for visual use. The overview mode without activity names has the advantage that if you are on the desired date and you hear '2 activities', you can select the date and you will immediately receive the first activity name of the day. The next item in this window is your next activity of the day. 

If you go back to your monthly overview in this overview mode to view other data, the only drawback is that the Voice-Over cursor is no longer on the day you just selected, not at the very top of the first item, but on the top date of this overview, which can be visually seen. This can also be a date from the previous month. You can then navigate back to the date you wish. 

Overview mode 2 - Monthly overview with activity names.

The disadvantage of this overview mode is that you cannot select/open the desired date to hear the activity names. This is because the activity names are in a separate window at the bottom of the screen which is nice if you can look but makes it difficult to get there with the Voice-Over cursor to get it read aloud. 

You will need to navigate to the last item on the screen by a four finger tap at the bottom of the screen and then swipe left to move one item back several times until you hear your activities. 

You can go back to the date and month overview by navigating back individual items or, a four finger tap at the top of the screen to go to the first item and then navigate a number of items further till you hear the date again.

Overview mode 3 - List of day overviews including activity names. 

If you select and open a date as in this previous heading, you will arrive in a window with the activity names. This window you open is itself another overview mode and not just a window to hear the activity names. This mode is an infinite list with all days and the activity names of those days written out below each other. Very nice because you can easily hear the date and the activity names after it. This gives me a lot of clarity and overview. You can also easily skip the activities and their names in this mode to jump from day to day. You do this by setting the rotor to 'headings' and navigating by 'heading'. VoiceOver sees every day as a new heading. To hear the activities, simply navigate one item further. Personally I use my calendar this way because I find it easy and clear in terms of having an overview. 

You can also activate overview  mode immediately without selecting a date. At the bottom of the screen is a button called ''today''. Navigate to the end of the screen and then back until you hear "today." If you select this you are immediately in this third overview mode. Your Voice-Over cursor will immediately jump back to the first item on the screen. I then have to navigate 4 items further and then I hear the first appointment that is on the agenda. 

Ps, when navigating in headings (aka days) in this mode, my VoiceOver sometimes hangs on a particular day. Then I have to navigate an item further and back and then it works fine again.

Friday, 4 November 2022