As a result of a Twitter conversation this past week, I learned (thanks to Pratik Patel) a neat new feature that has been added to VoiceOver for the iPod touch and iPhone with the release of IOS 4. When you go into the VoiceOver settings of these devices, you should find a new option: Language Rotor. The Language Rotor allows you to quickly change the language used by VoiceOver by turning an imaginary dial on the touchscreen. This feature has been available on some Mac laptops, where you can use the rotor gesture to navigate web pages by headings, links and the like. It was good to see that this gesture has been added for language selection in IOS 4. This should really benefit anyone who wants to use VoiceOver to read back a book in a different language with iBooks, or when you access a web page from overseas that is in a language other than English (I suppose language students would be helped out by this feature too).

By going into the VoiceOver preferences on an iPod touch or iPhone (Settings, General, Accessibility, VoiceOver) you can select Language Rotor and then choose the languages that will be available when you use the Language Rotor. There were 34 languages available on my device, and a nice touch is that for some languages you have some dialects available as well (Spanish from Mexico as opposed to Mexico, or French from Canada as opposed to France).

To use the Language Rotor, use the dial turning gesture on the iPod touch or iPhone touchscreen until you hear Language, then flick up and down to select from the languages you have selected to make available in the settings. Another nice touch is that there is a visual indicator as you turn the dial. This feature was added to help out sighted users when they work with people who have visual disabilities and use VoiceOver.

The Language Rotor should be available on the iPad when that device gets an update to IOS 4 in November.

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