Accessibility: Phones and Tablets

I was with my dad the other day talking about various things and looking at videos. He was about to search for something I told him about, but first had to put on his glasses to see the small text on his phone. I proceeded to tell him about and show him the accessibility features on his phone. He never knew they existed, let alone how useful they are to a person without disabilities. Today I will discuss in brief the accessibility features you can find on smart phones and tablets; leaving computers (e.g., laptops, desktops) for another day.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires tech companies to make their devices accessible to people with disabilities. “Accessibility” is defined as “the quality of being able to be reached or entered,” and “the quality of being easy to obtain or use.” Therefore, accessibility features in phones and tablets are features designed to allow users to easily reach and use the various components and functions of the device. Accessibility features can be found by going to Settings-General-Accessibility (on both IOS and Android devices). These accessibility features are grouped into three main categories of vision, hearing and mobility.


Accessibility features in this category include voice options, color adjustment and zoom. You can have spoken feedback on interactions with the device, and you can have voice notifications for phone calls and text messages (caller I.D. and messages read aloud to you). You can adjust the color and apply color filters to your screen. Text can be enlarged, or you can zoom in to your screen with a magnifier-like affect.


Captions can be turned on for videos. Notifications can be turned to LED lights or the flashing of the screen (for phone calls, text messages, or applications). The sound balance can be changed for use with headphones for people who have trouble hearing out of one ear.


Touch adjustments is what you will find on mobility (usually called Motor & Cognition). These features allow you limit touch control to certain parts of your screen, provide a touch assist board with frequently used apps anywhere on the screen, and will set the device to go to sleep without having to hit the power button.


You do not need to have a disability to use the accessibility features. Vision features are great for people to use as they grow older and eye sight naturally declines. Hearing features are great if your hearing has declined over the years, or if you have trouble hearing well in one ear. If you broke a bone in hand or finger, then the mobility features may be useful.

Some phones (e.g., Samsung Galaxy Edge series, LG V series) have put mini-displays where you can easily access heavily used apps. IOS devices will allow you to turn your rear camera into a magnifying glass for reading printed material. In short, there are many features (depending on the device) that exist to meet yours needs that you may have been missing out on. Take a look at your phone and tablet and see what is available; it just may make your phone/tablet experience enjoyable again.

Categories Assistive TechnologyTags , , ,

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