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Introduction to accessibility with SwiftUI

Paul Hudson    @twostraws   

Fully updated for Xcode 11 GM

By default SwiftUI apps come with a remarkably high level of accessibility, which is no accident – it was planned into the framework from the earliest days, and unless you actively choose to work around the defaults you’ll find your apps do a good job of being accessible without much special work from you.

The key to this behavior is the stack-based approach of SwiftUI’s layouts: everything has a natural order because we place things inside HStack and VStack, so the system can understand roughly how our layout should flow. In comparison, UIKit and Auto Layout let us place things anywhere, so the system effectively had to make a best guess as to how things should be ordered.

SwiftUI also strongly encourages us to add labels to all our interactive controls, explicitly saying what everything is for. Yes, we can hide those labels, but even when they are hidden they are still used by the system as audio prompts for the screen reader and more.

So, SwiftUI gives us a lot of accessibility for free. However, it still gives us extra tools to provide a more enhanced experience: how should things be read by the screen reader? Does everything need to be read? What if the user prefers not to have fancy animations?

In this collection of chapters we’re going to look at these more advanced pieces of functionality, hopefully helping you build user interfaces that provide users with a comfortable experience regardless of their system preferences.

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