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Using Speak Screen and Speech Controller on iPad

20th May 2024

Jacob Woolcock


| Accessibility
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In this video, I’ll show you how to use the iPad’s built-in Speak Screen feature to have any text or menu options read aloud to you. We’ll start by navigating through the Settings app to enable this functionality, then I’ll demonstrate how to use the Speak Screen and Speech Controller for added customisation and convenience.

This tool is incredibly useful for educational settings, making content more accessible for students with reading difficulties or those who benefit from auditory learning.

iPad has got a built-in feature where it will automatically read anything on the screen to you, whether that’s written text, menu options, or anything in between. To enable this, we’re going to jump into the Settings app. From here, on the left-hand side, we’re going to find Accessibility. Then, on the Accessibility options page, we’re going to tap where it says Spoken Content.

From here, the toggle we’re looking for is called Speak Screen. In its most basic working state, if I take two fingers and swipe down from the top of my screen as if I were bringing up Notification Centre but with two fingers, iPadOS will read the contents on my screen to me, just like this:

Speak Selection: Off – A speak button will appear when you select text.
Speak Screen: On – Swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen to hear the content.

This is a very useful tool, but you might want to fine-tune it slightly in your classroom. This is where the option called the Speech Controller comes in. We had that floating tool a moment ago, but when it finishes reading, it disappears forever. Well, not if you enable Speech Controller. So, on here, we’re going to tap on that little toggle icon.

I can also customise some shortcuts for this. If I long press or double tap on the little minimise icon, I can have it do different things. I quite like doing the double press to read a certain part of the screen when you tap on it. Now, once you’ve enabled this, you can then leave the app completely, and you’ll have that little floating square with you wherever you go. Tapping on this will bring up the full Speak Screen options, and double tapping and long pressing will do those shortcuts you’ve just set up.

So, that means in this Pages document here, if I long press on that little floating box, I’ll then have the whole page read aloud to me like this:

Body: Hi Year Six, sorry, but I’m not going to be in school for the next few days as I’m …

And I can use the pause command on screen to pause that reading at any point. If I jump into a different app, maybe we’ll go back into Settings just to demo this, and then I double tap on that shortcut, it will then read aloud the part of the screen that I tap on:

Sentence colour: Yellow
Siri and Search

This very quickly becomes a really useful tool for reading aloud any menu options or any settings on your device. Simply double tap the floating Speech Controller and then tap on whatever you want reading aloud, and iPadOS will do it for you.

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