Flicking Action Described on Such A site     

This page is being written by me to help those people who need to use the flick gesture on the iPhone and/or iPad because they are using Voice Over. I am hoping to help those of you who are having difficulties with doing this action either correctly or consistently.


by Glenda V. Such, M. Ed.


Such Technologies



The flick is one of the most basic actions required to use the Voice Over screen reader on the iPhone or iPad. But, that term, flicking, seems to present such a problem for so many people. They donít know the action instinctually, donít know how heavy to make the action, how long the flick should be, and on and on. Let me try to approach this from another direction.


In reviewing many videos and websites which try to teach the action of flicking, I have heard how flicking is being described basically the same way each time. They all say to think of flicking like you are flicking a piece of lint off your shoulder.  I would like to offer a few other ways to think of performing the task of flicking.


First, I think it is important for you to know what the flick even is and what it does. The flick action is one which tells Voice Over to move itself to the next or previous item on the screen.  To do that, Voice Over needs a command from you that was programmed into its system.


But, before you even try to perform the flick action, I want you to think of Voice Over as something that may need your commands to work, but it doesnít like being shoved around too hard,  being asked to figure out which touch to use when it feels too many touches on the screen at one time, and how Voice Over wants to give you the information you want but needs you to do the commands a certain way to do it.


With that in mind, if you are using the pad of your finger to do the flicking and Voice Over isnít moving correctly to the next or previous item, the pad of your finger may be too much on the screen at one time. To counter that problem, you can take one of your fingers, and slightly tilt it on its side so you are not totally on the soft pad of your finger, this may make the action easier. It also will allow those users with longer finger nails to not have them hit the screen with both the pad of their finger and the tip of their nails. This is not a good situation because only one thing should be touching the screen during the flick action.


To move voice over to the next item, you want to flick left to right, like you are flicking it along a long sentence word by word. The lighter you touch the screen to flick the better.


Then the length of the flick is important too. The flicking action is a small dash, maybe even half a dash, with you pulling your finger off the screen as soon as you made the tiny dash.


But, again, think of that motion as you scooting the Voice Over to the next word in a sentence, not three words, not two words, just one word over.


Also, as you touch the screen to do that gentle flick, donít hit down on the screen to start the action. Just start anywhere on the screen and kind of swoop down with your flick and then swoop away when done.


Like I said earlier, I have heard flicking explained by thinking of flicking off a piece of lint from your shirt. That is a potential way of thinking about it but you would use too much force to flick off the lint then you want to use on the screen of the iPhone or iPad.


When you try it out the way I described it, think of the screen being as sensitive as a babyís eye.


Next, is a hard one for many people to do consistently. That is, to flick horizontally from either 9 oíclock to 3 oíclock, or 3 oíclock to 9 oíclock.


If you donít do it on a true left to right action or right to left and do a little angle instead, the Voice Over will often just stay where it is and repeat the same thing over and over again. That or, jump way ahead of where you wanted to be.  So, you should practice flicking straight across the screen from left to right, but first do it near the bottom of the screen. This way you can feel the horizontal feeling as you feel the edge of the screen under your finger.


You can do a small training session for yourself without being on the device. Find a box or something else either square or rectangular. Put one of your pieces of mail you got from the postal system across the box and make it perfectly horizontal. Now, do the little flicks with one finger along the top edge of the piece of mail. Start to notice how it feels to go horizontally and then move the mail an inch away. Try to do the same flicking action right above the mail but donít touch the mail. If you do, that could mean your flicking is not staying perfectly horizontal.


After you do that lesson for yourself, try to do the flick action on the iPhone or iPad to just move from Icon to Icon on your home screen.


If this is not working for you, try a different finger to do the flicking. I tell students to even try their other hand to see if the flick is more accurate with a finger on that hand.

There is also a way to do the flick as well as many of the gestures with your thumb by the way you hold the device in one hand. If you cup the bottom corner into the palm of your hand, you can try to use your thumb to flick left to right and right to left. This works mostly with the devices that are smaller. But, in seeing the person who first taught me the basics of the iPhone, use this way to do all her tasks, it is worth considering. She is fast and highly proficient with that form of interaction with her iPhone.

The students I have who have arthritis say that way is too painful and they choose to use one hand to hold the device and a second hand to do the gestures such as flicking.


However, it is you who has to decide which way works the best, causes you no pain, and lets you be accurate in getting voice over to move to the next or previous item.


Please do let me know if you have other ways which help you do the gestures on the Apple Devices using Voice Over.