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Accessibility & Technology

Your Smartphone is a Comprehensive Low Vision Device

Oct 23, 2020

Your Smartphone is a Comprehensive Low Vision Device

Living with vision loss, like living in a pandemic, requires us to accept change and embrace technology. Digital access is no longer an option, it is a necessity.  Every patient experiencing changes in vision should know there are a multitude of accessibility options, available in their smartphones (and tablets), designed to help compensate low vision.

Apple & Android offer similar accessibility options including:

  • Text Size increased and bolded
  • Screen Brightness adjusted
  • Dictation converts speech to text
  • VoiceOver, Talk Back screen readers
  • Zoom magnifies entire screen
  • video Magnifier up to 15x
  • Improve color contrast
  • Reverse contrast to white text on black
  • Color filters for legibility
  • Adjust intensity and brightness of colors
  • Speak Selection reads selected content aloud
  • Speak Screen reads page aloud from top to bottom
  • Highlight Content as it is spoken
  • Typing Feedback spoken
  • Select voice and set speaking rate
  • Audio Descriptions for video content
  • FaceTime, Google Duo or other apps for video calls

Voice Assistants

Siri, Google & Alexa await your voice command. Ask them to open apps, make calls, send messages, search the web, tell time, get weather, turn on lights, play music and much, much more.

More on OE: Siri, Google & Alexa Podcast, Event Recap

Mobile Apps

Here are a few or the many special apps designed to help compensate visual loss.

  • Seeing AI, by Microsoft for iOS, is an intelligent camera app that reads text, identifies products, people, currency, color, scenes, and handwriting.
  • Soundscape, by Microsoft for iOS, a map with 3D sound provides background narration into your earbuds from the left, right and center, telling where you are, what’s around you and what’s ahead.
  • LookOut, by Google for Android, camera vision delivers information in 3 modes: Explore describes your environment, Shopping reads product barcodes and currency, and Quick Read reads signs, labels and mail.
  • Google Maps Detailed Voice Guidance, by Google for iOS & Android, added voice guidance feature in the apps navigation settings.
  • Aira, an acronym for AI Remote Assistance, teams artificial intelligence with live agents to help people with vision loss get around and get things done. The subscriber model combines both free and fee-based service options.
  • Be My Eyes, has 3 million volunteers signed up to assist 200 thousand visually impaired users, when they need to borrow a better pair of eyes, or directly speak with technical support or customer service at Microsoft, Google, and more.

Accessibility Support Phone Lines

Don’t go it alone, expert technical advice is a phone call away.

  • Apple Accessibility Support: 877-204-3930
  • Google Accessibility Support: Call on Be My Eyes app
  • Alexa Technical Support: 877-375-9365
  • Amazon Accessibility Service: 888-283-1678
  • Microsoft Accessibility Answer Desk: 800-936-5900
  • Verizon Wireless Accessibility Support: 888-262-1999

More on OE: Accessibility Support Phone Lines

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Download a printable PDF of this information here.

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About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.

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