Vision-related disability is one of the top ten disabilities among adults in the United States. With the popularity of smartphones, they need to be accessible to people with vision loss and other vision-related disabilities. But did you know your smartphone can help if you experience vision-related disabilities or vision loss?
Many common smartphone features make them excellent accessibility tools. Let’s take a look at how your smartphone can make a difference in your life if you are one of the 2.4% of people with a visual disability in the United States.
One feature most, if not all, smartphones have is screen magnification. Just like on a computer, you can magnify the content on your smartphone’s screen to make it easier to read.
Screen magnification doesn’t just enlarge content, however. It uses color and shading to help you quickly reorient yourself if you lose your place, highlighting the last section of content you were focused on. This is very helpful when using a smartphone’s built-in browser.
You can also adjust text size and customize other display settings. This can be very helpful if you find default text sizes and other visual elements difficult to see. By customizing these settings, you can optimize the appearance of content for your visual needs.
Smartphones often have built-in screen readers. Apple has VoiceOver, and Android has TalkBack, both as standard features. Screen readers announce what’s on the screen for people who have vision-related disabilities, for whom reading may be difficult or impossible.
Screen readers work with apps, web browsers, and basic phone functions, like texting. Even when faced with small, inaccessible text or image-heavy content, you won’t be restricted by your ability, as screen readers can interpret text regardless of its size and utilize alt text to describe images.
If you have a phone that doesn’t come with a screen reader pre-installed, there are plenty of options to choose from. Though there may be some hurdles involved with setting up an app that wouldn’t exist with built-in screen readers, the result is the same — accessibility.
Screen readers can make your phone an even stronger tool for navigating the world.
Most smartphones today come with virtual assistants, like Siri for Apple devices. These tools can help you complete many tasks, from composing texts to making phone calls.
The virtual assistants built into smartphones work using voice commands. You teach your smartphone to recognize your voice, and once it does, you can give it commands, such as “call work” or “text my boss.” The built-in digital assistant will then do as instructed.
These voice-controlled assistants rely on voice recognition to work. Voice recognition technology also powers things like speech-to-text, which transcribes spoken words to text, allowing users to dictate content instead of having to type it manually.
Smartphones can be excellent tools for accessibility. There is no reason a vision-related disability means a smartphone is impossible to be used — screen readers, virtual assistants, and magnification are some examples of how smartphones have become tools for accessibility. There are many ways you can customize your phone’s accessibility experience to get the most out of it.