Photo by Elizabeth Woolner on Unsplash
Love it or hate it, there’s no debate that technology is a boon for accessibility. From Braille keyboards to apps you control with your voice, the tech industry is creating new and better accessibility features all the time.
Which is why it surprises me how rarely people seem to explore those features on their devices, whether it’s their personal smartphone or the family computer.
Obviously, accessibility is a broad term, and that section of your device can feel like a catch-all, overflowing with all sorts of confusing options. But you might find some unexpected features that make daily life a little easier.
For example, maybe you’re waiting on cataract surgery, or just forgot your glasses upstairs. Apple has a feature called Point and Speak that lets you point at objects with text on them, like an appliance, and your device will read the text out loud.
Google’s Android has a similar feature, called Lookout. It appears to be limited to identifying objects around you rather than reading any text on them, but it can still be helpful for people with low vision.
Both operating systems have plenty of other accessibility options for vision, hearing, and motion. There are options that alert you to sounds, like a doorbell, and some that change how long (or how many times) you can press the screen before your device reacts.
Even common conditions like arthritis can make it difficult to navigate your screen, and there are features to help with that, like Apple’s Reachability and Android’s One-Handed Mode (not strictly an accessibility feature but it accomplishes the same thing).
Microsoft has no shortage of accessibility options in their software and hardware too, from Xbox to Microsoft Teams. Their site includes info on tools to support neurodiversity, mental health, and learning, along with vision, hearing, and mobility.
Apple’s accessibility features are baked right into the Settings menu, and you can learn about the options in their series of YouTube videos.
The Android accessibility features should come built-in as well, but you can download their entire suite, called the Android Accessibility Suite, in the Google Play Store.
So next time you find yourself aimlessly playing on your device, take a minute to explore its accessibility settings. You might just discover that your tech makes things a lot more accessible than you thought.