Photo of two iPads opened to VoiceOver Practice page and two hands making the 1-finger tap gesture. Text: Synchronized Swimming

Practicing Gestures: Synchronized Swimming Activity

A game to practice VoiceOver gestures, braille display commands and/or Bluetooth keyboard commands!

Rote practice is boring! Synchronized swimming is a fun way to practice your VoiceOver gestures, learn what the gestures do, and to build muscle memory. This game is best with at least two people and two devices – add more people/devices for even more fun!

On your iPad or iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Set your Speaking Rate to the same speed (ideally 55% or more) > Turn VoiceOver On (VoiceOver must be On for the VoiceOver Practice button to appear) > select VoiceOver Practice. This will open the VoiceOver Practice screen. Encourage your student to carefully listen to the VoiceOver announcement when the screen opens, so that they know how to exit this page!

Note: The VoiceOver focus will be on the title of the screen, “VoiceOver Practice”. Tap anywhere in the middle of the screen to activate the page.

Now the fun begins! Call out a command, such as one-finger double tap, then count to 3. On three, you and your student will both make the one-finger double tap gesture! Ideally, you will both make the correct gesture at the same time and on both devices, VoiceOver will speak simultaneously! Change it up – call out what the gesture does instead of the gesture itself! (Example: “Move focus to the next item”). Ask your student to call out the gestures. How fast can you go? 

This activity is fun for all ages! When teaching hands-on VoiceOver workshops to TVIs, one class had approximately 50 TVIs doing synchronized swimming – and after a few minutes, all 50 iPads were talking in tandem! Synchronized Swimming is a great activity to practice basic VoiceOver commands with staff members, parents, student peers. The video below shows seven year old twins who are learning VoiceOver gestures and their wonderful Assstitive Technology Specialist, Emmajean.


The VoiceOver Practice page can also be used to learn and practice refreshable braille display commands and Bluetooth keyboard commands. Many tech savvy students have explored the VoiceOver Practice page to discover commands that they did not know!

By Diane Brauner

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