iOS 12.1 Misspelled Words

Featured Image: 
Screenshot of Mail message with the virtual rotor on Misspelled Words: text has misspelled word that has red underline.

Misspelled words is an iOS feature that alerts users to - you guessed it - misspelled words! A word that is misspelled will visually have a dotted red line underneath. How do VoiceOver users know if words are misspelled? The ability to identify misspelled words when running VoiceOver has changed and evolved over the years.  At one time, there was an earcon (sound) associated with a misspelled word. Currently, Misspelled Words is a rotor option that may appear when you are in an editable text field. (An editable text field is when you are able to type - visually there is a blinding cursor in the text field and on the braille display.) To check for a misspelled word, set the rotor to Misspelled Words, then flick down to move from one misspelled to the next. In iOS 12.1, the Misspelled Words rotor option only appears in textfields in apps such as Mail and in Safari. The rotor option for Misspelled Words does not appear in apps such as Notes, Pages, and Word. For students, not being able to quickly locate misspelled words when writing a document is a critical issue; especially when their sighted peers do have this option.

Options in Settings

There are several spelling-related options in Settings, including Auto-Capitalization, Auto-Correction, Check Spelling, and Predictive. For young writers, my personal opinions are:

  • Auto-Capitalization Off: Students need to learn and practice capitalization rules
  • Auto-Correction Off: Students need to learn how to spell - and how to type! (We all have embarrassing stories about auto-corrected words!)
  • Check Spelling On: This has to be on in order for the misspelled words rotor option to appear in apps such as Mail and Safari.
  • Predictive Off: Typically, students need to learn to spell and type correctly. Predictive can be very confusing for many students who are using VoiceOver. There are exceptions to this, such as students who physically struggle with typing and students who truly struggle with spelling.

To access these options, go to Settings > General > Keyboards > select your desired options.

For detailed information on how to use the rotor option for Misspelled Word (in the Mail app), listen to the AppleVis Misspelled Words podcast here. A braille display is used in this podcast.


Our students who use VoiceOver need to be able to quickly identify misspelled words when writing and editing documents for school. The Misspelled Words rotor option is a wonderful tool and should be incorporated into Pages, Notes, and other word documents on the iPad. Educators/family members, please take a minute to advocate for this feature by emailing Apple Accessibility  and requesting this feature - be sure to mention that you are an educator/family member and how critical this is for your student/child. Also, encourage your student/child to send an email too - be sure to mention what grade he/she is in and how this feature would beneficial. It only takes a sentence or two - and as a community, our voices will be heard!

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