One of the most amazing things about screen reading solutions like Apple’s VoiceOver is how effective they are at speaking out loud the contents of a device’s screen. Truly, we are in a golden age of access to the digitial content on our various devices, be they computers, smartphones, or even watches and less common electronic accessories. So, it may come as a terrible shock to a user if, one day, they find that for some reason their VoiceOver has been enabled yet they cannot hear anything!
I recently encountered this situation when a student came to me saying that VoiceOver was enabled on her iPad, yet she could not hear anything. After asking some more questions, she confirmed that she knew VoiceOver was on because various commands and alerts appeared as expected on her paired refreshable braille display (I also could see the outline around apps as navigation commands were used). Adding to the confusion, the iPad’s volume buttons and on-screen graphic signaled that it was at the highest level, and sounds like the Siri voice commands tone still worked! The mute command did not appear to do anything either!
In the end, I was able to run through all of the possibilities that I had not checked yet and landed on the trusty VoiceOver rotor. Switching between Rotor options, I found the volume option and tried adjusting it. What do you know, as I swiped up repeatedly, the sweet, familiar sounds of VoiceOver gradually appeared, louder and louder.
So my lesson to share with you all is that there are separate volume settings for the iOS system and VoiceOver itself. If you ever find yourself experiencing the same confusion that my student and me did, you might want to check and see if the VoiceOver volume was accidentally turned all the way down!
I hope this was helpful to you, let me know if strange things like this have ever happened to you too!