Apple Still Hasn't Fixed Siri Issue That Nixed Call, Email, and Voicemail Features Used by Low Vision and Blind Users [Updated]
With the launch of iOS 15, Apple changed Siri functionality and removed features that were heavily relied on by low vision and blind iPhone users. Siri commands that provide details on phone calls, voice mails, and sending emails are no longer working, and Apple has yet to fix the issue.
We first shared details on this problem in September, shortly after the launch of iOS 15. Prior to the launch of the update, low vision users were able to ask Siri to play voicemails, check call history, check recent calls, and more, commands that no longer work.
We have received ongoing complaints from iPhone users who are missing this key Siri functionality, or their relatives who are attempting to help them navigate the changes. The Siri feature removals have also been documented on the AppleVis forums for blind and low vision users of Apple products, and complaints have continued to pile up on the Apple Support Communities. One user explains the issue:
Siri is 'unable' to read missed calls or call last missed call all of a sudden. i use this feature everyday due to visual impairment and since this morning siri has replied with "i cant help with that" when asking for missed calls, call last missed call etc. i rely on this feature heavily and suddenly siri is unable to do this. please can someone help. no settings have been changed and others iphones are having the same issue too.
Asking Siri to provide details on recent phone calls or voicemails now results in the following response: "I can't help with that, but you can ask me to open the Phone app." Asking about email results in a similar response about Siri being unable to help.
MacRumors reader Joshua got in touch with us and explained that the change makes the iPhone almost unusable for his mother, and he's frustrated with Apple's lack of help.
For many fully blind people (like my blind mom) this makes their phone almost unusable, because they can't ask Siri who has called, and they can't ask Siri if they have voicemail. (Their official "workaround" for voicemail, in fact, is calling the old-school carrier voicemail number, to check your voicemail over the phone.)
Joshua got in contact with Accessibility Support and received a non-answer about calling in to be added to the official engineering report as an "affected user" and to fill out Feedback Assistant, but he said he previously submitted a Radar and got no response. Other users on the Apple Support Communities are becoming increasingly upset with Apple. From user Maboc:
Not understanding how Apple cannot have this resolved by now. Taking away a critical functionality for the disabled, the inability for sight impaired to now check for missed calls and messages via Siri and no response or action does not speak well for this Support Community or Apple itself. We purchased a new iPhone 13 for my aging, sight impaired mother at the recommendation of the School for the Blind. Apple being a leader in the Accessibility feature field. Can no-one offer a timeline for a fix out there? HELLO APPLE???!!!???
We asked Apple when a fix might be coming or if the removal of the Siri functionality was intentional back in September, but we never heard back. Apple's lack of effort to address this issue for blind and low vision users is disappointing from a company that is usually on the forefront of accessibility.
Update: It appears that Apple is going to be addressing these Siri issues in the iOS 15.2 update, which is available to developers and public beta testers at this time. In iOS 15.2, the missing call, email, and voicemail Siri features have been reintroduced and are functional.