Has your VoiceOver stopped talking? Here’s how to fix it

Person's hand's holding and using iPhone

by David Redmond

Every screen reader user knows that sometimes a screen reader can talk just a bit too much, causing us to frantically find the control key or quickly tap the screen with two fingers. In general, though, it’s much better for a screen reader to say too much instead of too little. What do you do if a screen reader just stops talking altogether? Well, in this article we’ll take a look at how to fix this issue for those using VoiceOver on iOS.

Why has VoiceOver stopped talking?

There are four possible reasons why VoiceOver might not be talking.

  1. VoiceOver isn’t turned on
  2. VoiceOver is on, but speech is disabled
  3. VoiceOver is on but the speech volume is turned down to zero.
  4. VoiceOver has crashed

Thankfully, these issues are relatively easy to resolve. Let’s take each issue in turn, and we’ll go through how to fix it.

1. VoiceOver is turned off
You can turn VoiceOver back on in three different ways.

Using Settings: go to Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver. Then toggle VoiceOver to on. This might not be the easiest if you can’t see the screen. Using Siri: you can use Siri to turn VoiceOver back on. All you need to do is say “turn on VoiceOver ”and it will do as you ask. Finally, you can use the accessibility shortcut, triple clicking your home button or side button should turn VoiceOver back on. Keep in mind this isn’t set up on all phones, so you might find Siri to be more reliable. Once VoiceOver is turned on, it should then talk as normal.

2. Speech is turned off
This is a simple issue to fix. All you need to do is a 3-finger double tap. that gesture is a toggle that switches between having speech on and off. So, if the speech is turned off, a three-finger double tap should turn it back on.

3. VoiceOver is on but the speech volume is set to zero
An unusual issue, but not too hard to solve. Tap the screen four times with two fingers to enter VoiceOver Quick Settings. Flick until you hear the sound indicating you’re at the end of the list. By default, the volume slider is the last option so it should be there unless you’ve changed some very obscure settings. When at the bottom, flick up to adjust the value. If this was your issue, then you should be able to hear speech once again.

4. Finally, what to do if VoiceOver crashes
You can restart VoiceOver using a triple tap of the side or home button. With a bit of luck, this should fix the issue. If not a restart of the phone might help.

Unfortunately, if VoiceOver has completely stuck, a full restart might be required, you may need sighted assistance here. If you want to try a re-start yourself though, here’s how to do it. Press and hold the side and volume up button, then tap the top of the screen, then double tap. This should shut down your phone. To turn it back on again, press and hold the side button for about 3 seconds. On older phones with home buttons, you don’t need to use the volume up button, the side button will work just fine on its own.

Once your phone has restarted your VoiceOver should hopefully be talking again.


When your screen reader isn’t working as expected, it can certainly be a very frustrating experience. Hopefully, this article gives you some ideas on how you can fix this issue, and with a bit of luck you’ll have speech again in no time.