Accessibility options on smartphones

If you or someone you know has their vision or hearing impaired, you'll still find a range of features which help you use most smartphones
Accessibility options on smartphones

If you or someone you know has their vision or hearing impaired, you can still use a modern smartphone easily. There are a number of special accessibility options on smartphones designed to help you use most of their standard features. Here’s how they work.



If your eyes are getting a little weak or you have trouble reading, you can turn on a digital magnifying glass. With the Magnifier (Android) or Zoom (iOS) setting turned on, just double tap the screen to zoom in. You can then move the magnifying glass around the screen. The alternative is to simply increase the font size. Smartphones now can increase the font a lot, making text and menus much easier to read.


If you have a high level of visual impairment, smartphones can actually read out whatever is under your finger when you touch the screen. This lets you navigate any menu of the phone. VoiceOver on iPhone or TalkBack for Android phones works with apps too. You can even make a pattern with your finger to tell your phone to read out all the text on screen.


There are lots of dictation options on smartphones now, and the speech recognition is becoming very accurate. All you need to do is activate the setting and talk away. Messages can then be read back so you can check everything’s how you want it.


Siri, S Voice and Google Now are some of the most popular voice control systems that come preinstalled on many of today’s smartphones. With these apps, you can make calls, send texts, get answers to general knowledge questions and much more, all by just speaking to your phone.


While phones were originally made for making audio calls, they can do far more now. We’re in a situation now that means if your hearing is poor, you can use a phone for lots of activities. But there are still ways a smartphone can help you enjoy the world of sound a little bit more.


If you have particularly poor hearing in ear, stereo speakers are no good. Sound is often split, so not all the song or voice goes through one speaker. The mono speaker setting sends all sounds through one speaker, so you won’t miss anything.


You probably have subtitles on your TV at home, so why not on your smartphone? There are loads of great apps in the app stores that will help you find subtitles for your favourite TV shows and movies and have them up and running on your screen in seconds. iTunes actually has rental movies with closed caption (CC) subtitles already imbedded.


Don’t forget, you can still make calls on your smartphones even if you’re hard of hearing. Video call apps like FaceTime and Skype let you see who you’re talking too. This opens up the possibility to lip read or sign to communicate. Skype actually lets you send messages at the same time as video calling, so if you can’t sign or lip read, you can still communicate easily.

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