App reads email to blind or visually impaired users

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Q: Is is accessible for blind or visually impaired users?

A: If you are blind or visually impaired, you may find Speaking Email useful. The app reads out the contents of your inbox continuously (ie speaks each email in turn). It skips over email signatures, disclaimers and other email-specific clutter - making for a smooth and seamless reading experience.

Speaking Email is fully accessible with VoiceOver, the screen reader that blind people use to interact with their iPhone. We’ve been reviewed as a fully accessible app on AppleVis, the online community for visually impaired iPhone users.

Tips for blind or visually impaired users:

  • Blind users typically use VoiceOver (on iOS) to navigate and use apps. We've refined Speaking Email to be fully operable with VoiceOver. All screens and menus have accessible fields and prompts.
  • When using VoiceOver on the mail reading screen you can swipe left and right to hear each email (just like you can without VoiceOver). You need to use the buttons in the button bar at the bottom of the screen in order to perform actions - archive, star, instant reply actions, instant FYI or ignore sender. Swipe up and down to go between the buttons and the tabset controlling the email slider.
  • If you are not a VoiceOver user, you can double tap anywhere on the email to archive it. This shortcut is very powerful - you can easily clear email out of your inbox that you've already read. Archived emails go into an "archived" folder which is automatically created if you don't already have one (and many mail platforms have one by default).
  • It is a not a replacement for an email client but rather an additional way of accessing your existing inbox in a more passive way - requiring fewer manipulations. Its focus is on reading our the content of the emails in your inbox. It isn't for composing or managing mail - for this you would still use your normal email app.

What users say

Here is a quote from a blind VoiceOver user Joanne Tran who helped beta test the app to ensure it is fully accessible:

I personally like having Speaking Email as an additional tool in my toolbox. I find it's nice to have the app automatically open any unread messages and having it start reading each message after it checks for new messages. I also like having the ability to skip over the information that I don't want to listen to such as the signatures. The option to automatically read the next message is a plus for me. This includes the option to skip the promotional messages. I think this app is worth it in my book.

We’ve had a lot of enthusiastic and supportive feedback from blind and visually impaired users, which makes this effort really feel worthwhile:

“I just wanted to say this app is awesome! It makes reading emails a lot easier.”

“Your app is one of a handful that could assist people with visual problems and I strongly support your efforts.”

“I want to thank you for this app because my 93 year old mother is almost blind from macular degeneration. She can now listen to her emails without needing someone to read them to her”

“Speaking Email totally rocks! The accessibility is awesome!”

What is Speaking Email?

An app for iPhone and Android that reads your email out loud to you. It intelligently extracts content from emails (minus the signatures, disclaimers and threads). And it lets you action your email - archive, mark-as-read, trash, flag, reply, or forward. It can be completely by voice command, or use the large on-screen buttons or full screen touch gestures.

Who is it for?

People with blindness or visual impairment. People who are busy and run out of time to get through their inbox. People who want to make productive use of time when driving between appointments.

Do you have Apple CarPlay?

See our other product Speaking Email CarPlay.

Find out more