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What many people don’t know, is that the devices we use every day already offer many options to make the internet more accessible to people with disabilities. Below are the accessibility options of iPads, iPhones and phones and, tablets that run on Android, from brands such as Samsung, Google, LG, Nokia, Sony and HTC.

Apple’s iOS

Apple takes accessibility seriously and has focused considerably in recent years on digital accessibility for the control software for mobile devices, iOS, and for iMacs and MacBooks, Macos. In a earlier article Apple’s Voiceover has already been discussed, the internal screen reader built into iOS. Below are other accessibility solutions from the American company. 

Made for iPhone hearing devices

When developing these hearing aids, Apple supported the manufacturers to make the link with iPhones possible. For this, sound processors for iPhones and iPads had to be developed. By clicking on the home button three times you can easily adjust the hearing aid settings. This makes it possible to set the device settings on the environment. This way you can easily adjust the hearing aid to a noisy restaurant, so that table companions can be better understood. Another solution that your iPhone offers is to be able to easily view the battery status of your hearing aid.

Support when reading

For people who have difficulty reading, because of dyslexia or a language deficiency, there is the option to have books, e-mails, websites and messages read. If this option is enabled, the order can easily be given to an iPhone or iPad to read the text on the screen.

Support with writing

Another option that Apple offers is to convert spoken messages into written texts. For example, it becomes possible for illiterates to send WhatsApps or e-mails. The messages that income can easily be read by the device.

Audio descriptions for films

Subtitles is sometimes not enough for viewers with an auditory disability. Exciting music or sounds from the area, for example, are not included in the subtitles. For this group, Apple has added audio descriptions to films from iTunes. Netflix has had this option for some time.

Custom display

The general representation of the phones can also be adjusted as desired. Users who are sensitive to stimuli can, for example, switch on dark mode, activate shades of gray or apply other colors of filters on the screen. In this way Apple makes the use of the phones possible for everyone.

Example of dark mode on an iphone

Enable accessibility functions

The solutions described above can easily be enabled. iPhone users to the home screen and click on “Settings”, after which the heading “accessible” becomes visible. Here the user can adjust the device to personal wishes.

Google’s Android

Most telephones still run on the Google operating system: Android. Google also takes the accessibility of the devices that run on Android seriously. For example, the following solutions have been developed for users of Android phones and tablets.

Use a screen reader

Google has developed Talkback as an internal screen reader for Android devices. This solution describes the buttons and options that are displayed on the screen, so that people with a visual impairment can also use them. In addition, users are informed of new reports via an audio message. Talkback can be activated by pressing both volume keys for three seconds or by going to “accessibility” via “Settings” and then to “Talkback”.

In addition to Talkback, Android has also developed Brailleback. This software makes it possible to connect Brailleleese rules to smartphones via Bluetooth. This allows the user to edit text or operate the device via the Brailleese rule.

device externally operate

The mobile phone can also be operated via the “access via switch” via a switch or keyboard. This makes smartphones easier to use for people with a motor impairment. In addition to an external switch or keyboard, the buttons on the sides of the smartphone can also be set to operate the device. On this page you can find more information about the set up From ‘access via switch’ for Android .

It is not only possible to operate Android smartphones and tablets with keyboards or switches. Google has also made it possible to operate phones through speech. By reading assignments, the user can give the Android device tasks, which would otherwise go through the touchscreen. This option can be compared with Apple’s Siri.

Options for customized display

If the user has trouble reading texts on Android phones, the display size and the font size can be adjusted as desired. In addition, the built in magnifying glass can be used to temporarily zoom in on parts of the screen.

For people who are sensitive to stimuli, Android has developed various solutions. Think of being able to switch on a dark theme, color inversion, color correction or text with high contrast. Dark theme and color inversion both ensure more dark shades on the screen.

The difference between these two options is that with color inversion all colors are reversed, so black text on a white background becomes white text on a black background, and vice versa. The color of media also changes, such as images and videos. With dark theme, only the user interface of Android and apps is made darker, colors do not change.

help with reading

Android offers the possibility of handy live solutions in the field of digital accessibility. This way conversations and videos can be transcribed or recorded live. For example, a user with an auditory disability can hold a telephone conversation in realtime.

Edwin Ruyer (Blinde man) met telefoon

Link with a hearing aid

Even with Android it is also possible to link hearing aids to a smartphone. This is easy via “connected devices” in the “Settings” menu. Here a Bluetooth device can be added to the list of existing devices. This way a hearing aid can be operated from the telephone and easily adapted to the environment.

Accessibility Apps from Android

In the digital store of Android, Google Play, a very large selection of apps is also the Android Accessibility tools can be found. This app is a collection of accessibility apps that can be used to make Android devices more accessible to users. Many of the solutions mentioned above can be found in this package.

The development of a digitally accessible website or app is a complex process. In practice, we notice that developers help a lot to have a product tested by people with a disability. Digital puts together test groups and supervised test sessions in this area. We also conduct accessibility audits and build accessible websites.

In addition to this, we also provide advice and we develop accessible online products. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to receive more information.

Vincent van Brakel

Vincent van Brakel researches the accessibility of websites and apps for Digitaal Toegankelijk. Vincent also writes about everything that has to do with digital accessibility and shares practical tips on