With our forever changing world of digital technology, comes a universal design movement with significant focus on increasing the accessibility of the gadgets we use. The customizable settings on our devices make modern technology more accommodating to all potential users, instead of a smaller, more particular user base.
Devices like tablets make it possible for seniors in residences and everywhere to get started using the Internet and the seemingly endless opportunities created by it. The touch screen design and light weight of tablets make them easy to handle and control with one hand.
Additionally, there are accessibility options available on tablets that help adapt the device to the specific needs and interests of different users, including those with vision and hearing challenges.
Voice Over and Zoom Accessibility
Voice Over is a common accessibility setting on tablets that will read all the text displayed on the screen out loud to users. This application is helpful when reading Emails, online articles, or Facebook. Utilizing these common tools becomes possible for people who might have avoided them because of difficulty seeing text on the screen.
For older people who need to make the tablet's text bigger, Zoom is a common accessibility option that uses multi-touch commands to zoom in on screen contents. It’s important to recognize that not everything on a tablet can be zoomed in on by default. This zoom accessibility option makes this function possible. Using three fingers at once, users can zoom in on text, pictures, video... just about everything, so it can be easily seen.
Bluetooth Connectivity and Hearing Aids
For older music junkies and film buffs, many tablets are compatible with modern hearing aids, playing audio from the tablet through the hearing aid itself using Bluetooth connectivity. This technology makes the sound much clearer and easy to listen too, especially when video conferencing on Skype.
Another helpful tablet accessibility setting is the LED flash notification, designed to signal users who cannot hear the traditional chimes and dings made by tablets when new information becomes available, like new emails or text messages.
A truly accessible feature that everyone finds valuable is Voice Recognition (Siri on iPad and “OK Google” on Android). With these tools, a user can operate some tablet functions using only their voice; like finding information online, composing emails, or saving dates in a calendar, to name just a few.
Due to this amazing leap in technology, new users intimidated by typing on a keyboard, realize the accuracy and simplicity of voice recognition and how quickly they can learn how to use it. Everyone likes feeling comfortable as they steadily progress on something new.
With the right guidance and support, anyone with a willingness to learn can adopt technology use into their life. Ongoing dedication to universal design will ensure that gadgets will continue to improve at accommodating more users, facing different challenges and requiring more individualized customizations. Until then, there are some terrific accessibility tools, already helping people get online around the world.