Navigating the Digital World: Using Smartphones and Tablets with Sight Loss
In an increasingly digital world, smartphones and tablets have become indispensable tools for communication, information, and entertainment. For individuals with sight loss, these devices can be powerful allies, providing access to a world of possibilities. With the right adjustments and assistive technology, using smartphones and tablets can become an empowering experience. In this article, we offer valuable advice on how to make the most of these devices and enhance the daily lives of people with sight loss.
Choose Accessible Devices
When selecting a smartphone or tablet, consider accessibility features. Both iOS and Android devices offer built-in accessibility features that can be customised to meet your needs. Look for devices with larger screens, high-resolution displays, and audio feedback options. Phones such as the iphone, the Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy have features such as message dictation, screen magnifiers and voice assistants.
Voice Assistants and Screen Readers
Voice assistants like Siri (iOS) and Google Assistant (Android) can be incredibly helpful. They can perform tasks like sending texts, making calls, setting reminders, and searching the web, all through voice commands. Additionally, screen readers, such as VoiceOver (iOS) and TalkBack (Android), read aloud the content on the screen, making navigation and use of various apps more accessible.
Adjust Font Size and Display Settings
Customise the font size, contrast and brightness settings on your device to make text more legible and screen content easier to see. Many devices allow for text enlargement, bold text and high-contrast modes.
Explore Accessibility Apps
Both app stores offer a wide range of accessibility apps that can enhance your experience. Apps like Be My Eyes connect you with sighted volunteers who can assist with tasks through video calls, while apps like Seeing AI can read text aloud, identify objects, and more.
Enable Voice Typing
Many devices offer voice-to-text features that enable you to dictate messages, emails and notes using your voice. This is not only convenient but can also reduce the risk of typos and errors in your communications.
Learn Gestures and Shortcuts
Mastering device gestures and shortcuts can significantly improve your efficiency. Practice common gestures like swiping, tapping and pinching, and learn keyboard shortcuts for quicker navigation and access to specific functions.
Keep Software Up to Date
Regularly update your device's operating system and apps. Developers often release updates to improve accessibility and address any existing issues.
Seek Support and Training
Many organisations and institutions offer training and support for using smartphones and tablets with sight loss. Consider seeking assistance from experts who can provide guidance and help you make the most of your device. Macular Society for example offer a ‘Connect by Tech’ service which offers advice to those who need help in setting up or using devices.
Smartphones and tablets have revolutionised the way people with sight loss interact with the digital world. With the right tools, settings, and applications, these devices can be incredibly empowering, offering greater independence and accessibility. Whether it's for communication, information, or entertainment, embracing the capabilities of smartphones and tablets can open up a world of possibilities for individuals with sight loss. Don't hesitate to explore these resources and seek the assistance you need to fully enjoy the benefits of these remarkable devices.
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