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Screen reader

A screen reader reads out what is on the screen in an app. Gestures allow you to navigate through apps and perform actions. In this way it is possible to use apps without sight.

The screen reader on Android devices is called TalkBack. iOS devices also have a built-in screen reader: VoiceOver.

The screen reader is a useful tool for people with disabilities. Don't be fooled by the low usage rates. This setting is a necessity for some people. For example, blind and partially sighted people generally cannot live without it.

But it is also a powerful tool for developers to test an app for accessibility. An app that is useful with a screen reader must include textual alternatives and all essential elements must be easily accessible and focusable. This benefits a much larger group than screen reader users. People who use external devices, such as a keyboard or a switch, also benefit from an app that works well with a screen reader.


use voiceover on iOS.


use Talkback on Android.

Support in apps

Below are some code samples for the most commonly used platforms and frameworks.

On Android, you can use the contentDescription attribute to set an accessibility label.

You can also pass any kind of Span for greater control over pronunciation. For example, you can set a language by using LocaleSpan.

If another element is used to display the label, you can link the label by using the labelFor attribute.

// Set accessibility label
element.contentDescription = "Appt"

// Set accessibility label in Dutch language
val locale = Locale.forLanguageTag("nl-NL")
val localeSpan = LocaleSpan(locale)

val string = SpannableString("Appt")
string.setSpan(localeSpan, 0, string.length, Spanned.SPAN_INCLUSIVE_INCLUSIVE)

element.contentDescription = localeSpan

// Link visual label to field

Using a screen reader

A screen reader makes it possible to use apps without sight. Gestures allow you to navigate through apps and perform actions.

  • Screen Reader icon

    TalkBack: screen reader for Android

    This article provides in-depth information about the TalkBack screen reader for Android.

    TalkBack for Android
  • Screen Reader icon

    VoiceOver: screen reader for iOS

    This article provides in-depth information about the VoiceOver screen reader on iOS.

    VoiceOver for iOS

Interview with a screen reader user

Photo Jesse

How many hours a day I use my phone? How many hours do you use your eyes?


Read the interview with Jesse


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