More than a billion people on the planet have a disability of one kind or another.
Apple and Google have already incorporated audio enhancements, screen readers, switch controls and other accessibility features and tools into modern smartphones and other technology. Yet the two leading developers of mobile operating systems continue to innovate with features designed to help folks with memory, physical, vision and other challenges.
If you’re an iPhone user who has a disability or cares for someone with one, check out the tools and options on the handset you already own before exploring what’s new. Tap Settings | Accessibility to get started.
And if you have an Android phone such as a Google Pixel, you’ll want to start at Settings | Accessibility on that device.
In advance of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, observed May 18 every year, Apple offered a sneak peek of some accessibility features the company expects to bring out before the end of the year. The day is dedicated to providing inclusive digital access for anyone with disabilities, and Google followed with accessibility updates of its own.
1. Simplification is Assistive Access goal
Apple’s Assistive Access feature is aimed at people with concentration and memory challenges, often collectively called cognitive problems.
A simplified visual or grid layout surfaces the most typically used experiences on an iPhone or iPad, replacing the home and other screens on a device. Large onscreen buttons represent Calls, Camera, Messages, Music and Photos. An alternate row-based layout is available for people who are more comfortable scrolling.
Screens are customizable, so a caregiver can place other apps a person might use frequently, not just ones from Apple.
Underlying apps can be tailored, too. Tap Calls and you can display buttons for family members, close friends and other people called most often, whether via FaceTime or a voice call. If the wrong button is inadvertently tapped, the user can hit a Back button to stop the call from going through.