Accessibility

Because you need to use a device’s accessibility settings, isn’t an indication of disability, you are just making use of technology to make tasks easier.

These features give persons without disabilities improved capabilities in situations where they might be functionally disabled, such as when driving, carrying items in one or both hands, or using their device in low light or noisy environments. Today’s mobile devices are highly configurable – using these settings build on this.

For many reasons, over time, our eyesight and hearing deteriorate. Mobile device manufacturers have built in several features, into their devices, to make things a little easier for us.

Being inbuilt, these features are free of charge. 

Below are some basic instructions on how to use these features, YouTube videos can be found to further demonstrate the function further. 

Be aware that the major companies, such as Apple, Google and Microsoft, are constantly making changes to their Operating Systems, adding in features and making changes to existing features. It is therefore important to periodically view the accessibility web pages of these companies for any updates.

The settings for each function are generally found in the system menu under accessibility. Note that, particularly on Android, the menus control these functions may well differ across manufacturers.

The process for setting up these functions is generally the same whether you are using a phone or a tablet. Note that whilst these functions will work on most apps, you will encounter some apps which have their own settings or some that you cannot change at all.

Font and Display size

Android

To make your font size smaller or larger

  • Open your devices settings app
  • Tap accessibility, then tap font size
  • Use the scroller to choose the font size

To make items on your screen smaller or larger

  • Open your devices settings app
  • Tap accessibility, then tap display size
  • Use the scroller to choose the display size

Some apps on your screen may change position, after you change the display size.

These setting may also be found in Settings > Display

iOS

Change the font size

  1. Go to Settings > Display & Brightness, then select Text Size.
  2. Drag the slider to select the font size you want.

Make the font even bigger

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility, then select Display & Text Size.
  2. Tap Larger Text for larger font options.
  3. Drag the slider to select the font size you want.

Making the text too large might make it hard to tap buttons or other functions within apps. Go back to your settings and adjust the font size as needed.

To make items on your screen larger or smaller

Recently Apple changed the way that apps on the screen are changed in size on size on some models.

Version 1

  • Open the Settings App
  • Select Display & brightness
  • Scroll down the screen and tap on View under the Display Zoom label.
  • Now, you want to enlarge App icons on iPhone, right? But here, by default, Standard will be selected. To check out preview, swipe screen back and forward to see the variance between both, then tap on Zoomed tab and go with a Set button to save. 
  • You should then get a message – ‘’changing Display Zoom will restart iPhone.’’
  • Tap on Use Zoomed. Wait for few seconds until you get to wake up the device automatically. Now click on the Home button to view Apps icons bigger.

Version 2

This is slightly fiddly and requires patience and practice

  • Open the settings app
  • Select accessibility, then select zoom. A small window will appear which magnifies the screen it is over
  • Scroll down and ensure that zoom region is showing Window Zoom.
  • There is a slider further down to amend magnification level
  • With the pads of three fingers move your fingers around, to place the screen under the magnifying device. Go back to the desktop
  • To move to the next screen of app icons on your screen just use one finger.

Pinch\spread

Another way to make text and pictures larger or smaller, while in some documents or web pages, is to use the pinch\spread method. Note that this method will not work on the desktop or in parts of some apps. 

With your thumb and index fingers close together, put them on the screen of your device, over the area to be enlarged. Slowly spread your fingers to enlarge what is underneath.

To reduce the size just reverse the above.

This method works on both Android and iOS devices.

Magnification

Android

One of the simplest ways to set up magnification on an android device is to use triple tap. Using this method means that magnification is only used when you need it, rather than being on all the time.

Step 1: Turn on magnification

  1. Open your device’s Settings app Settings.
  2. Open Accessibility, then Magnification.
  3. Choose Magnify with triple-tap 
    • If you don’t see this option, you might be using an earlier version of Android. Turn on Magnification, then follow the steps below for magnify with triple-tap.

Step 2: Magnify with triple-tap

Zoom in and make everything bigger
  1. Triple-tap, using the pad of one finger, anywhere on the screen, except the keyboard or navigation bar.
  2. Now you can pan or adjust the zoom level:
    • To pan across the screen, drag two or more fingers.
    • To adjust the zoom level, pinch two or more fingers together or spread them apart.
  3. To zoom out, triple-tap the screen.
Temporarily magnify the screen
  1. Triple-tap and hold anywhere on the screen, except the keyboard or navigation bar.
  2. To move the magnified area, drag your finger across the screen.
  3. To stop magnifying, lift your finger.

iOS

iOS uses the word zoom when talking about magnifying items on your devices screen, however when you use the devices camera to enlarge an item on a table, for example, then you can use the magnifier.

Set up Zoom

  1. Go to Settings  > Accessibility > Zoom, then turn on Zoom.
  2. Adjust any of the following:
  1. Follow Focus: Track your selections, the text insertion point, and your typing.
  2. Smart Typing: Switch to Window Zoom when a keyboard appears.
  3. Keyboard Shortcuts: Turn on keyboard shortcuts to control Zoom.
  4. Zoom Controller: Turn the controller on, set controller actions, and adjust the colour and opacity.
  5. Zoom Region: Choose Full Screen Zoom or Window Zoom.
  6. Zoom Filter: Choose None, Inverted, Grayscale, Grayscale Inverted, or Low Light.
  7. Maximum Zoom Level: Drag the slider to adjust the level.
  8. To add Zoom to Accessibility Shortcut, go to Settings > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut, then tap Zoom.

Use Zoom

  1. Double-tap the screen with three fingers or use accessibility shortcuts to turn on Zoom.
  2. To see more of the screen, do any of the following:
  1. Adjust the magnification: Double tap the screen with three fingers (without lifting your fingers after the second tap), then drag up or down. Or triple-tap with three fingers, then drag the Zoom Level slider.
  2. Move the Zoom lens: (Window Zoom) Drag the handle at the bottom of the Zoom lens.
  3. Pan to another area: (Full Screen Zoom) Drag the screen with three fingers.
  4. To adjust the settings with the Zoom menu, triple-tap with three fingers, then adjust any of the following:
    • Choose Region: Choose Full Screen Zoom or Window Zoom.
    • Resize Lens: (Window Zoom) Tap Resize Lens, then drag any of the round handles that appear.
    • Choose Filter: Choose Inverted, Grayscale, Grayscale Inverted, or Low Light.
    • Show Controller: Show the Zoom Controller.
  5. To use the Zoom Controller, do any of the following:
    • Show the Zoom menu: Tap the controller.
    • Zoom in or out: Double tap the controller.
    • Pan: When zoomed in, drag the controller.

Magnify using the device camera

Sometimes, we may find ourselves struggling to read some text on a tin, menu or something similar and haven’t got our glasses to hand.

A temporary solution to this, that works on both Android and iOS devices, is to use your device’s camera.

When you turn on the camera, on your device, many models have a small slider to zoom in on a subject. You can use this or the pinch\spread that is described above to have a clearer look at what you are trying to magnify.

Speech to text

Sometimes hearing what people say can be difficult, but again there is a way to use your mobile device to assist you. Mobile devices can capture the spoken word and turn it into text.

As you might imagine, this isn’t perfect technology as you have factors such as dialect, slang and background noise to contend with. Below are two examples as to how you can use a built-in application on your device in this way. 

There are also specialist apps that you can obtain from the app store, from the Android and Apple app stores, that have slightly more features than the built in one, but before using an app, always read the feedback and beware of the required permissions. You may also find You Tube videos that demonstrate these more specialised apps further.

Before you use this function, you need to ensure that your device is setup to match the region you live in (this helps with voice recognition and spelling).

iOS

Go to Settings > General > Language & Region and tap iPhone Language.

If this isn’t set to English (U.K.), select that option from the list of other languages that appear and then tap Done. You’ll then need to wait for a few seconds while iOS changes the language.

Return to Settings > General > Language & Region. Region should be set to United Kingdom. If not, tap Region, select United Kingdom from the list and then tap < Back.

If the iOS keyboard still doesn’t work as expected or has a layout that’s something other than ‘Qwerty’, go to Settings > General > Keyboard. Tap the Keyboards option, followed by the English (UK) option and then the QWERTY option.

Android

Android has a different appearance on almost every smartphone it’s used on, but these steps should be close enough for you to follow for your Android smartphone or tablet.

Go to Applications and open Settings.

Find the Languages and input option (this may be under the General or Personal section) and select it.

If English (United Kingdom) isn’t shown under Language, tap this option and select English (United Kingdom) from the list of language options.

Android

Open the apps list on your device and select the Google Docs app (titled Docs on your device).

Depending on the version of Docs you have on your device, you should see either a cross in a circle or the word new. Tap on either of these and select New document.

The new, blank, document will open, and the devices keyboard will appear. Above the letters on the keyboard you will see a small microphone symbol (if it’s not there then it may be towards the bottom of the keyboard.

Tap on the microphone – If this is the first time you have used the microphone, in this app, you may get a pop-up screen asking you to give the app permission to use the microphone.

When you start speaking just speak in your normal tone and speed. Don’t leave it too long before you start speaking otherwise the microphone will time out and close. If this happens just tap the microphone symbol again.

After a short delay text will start appearing – Be aware that it will enter all words that it hears! 

iOS

On Apple devices the application to use is Apple Pages (just Pages in the app list.

Open the app and it normally opens on a recents page. Tap the cross in the top right corner and from the following screen select Blank document and a screen will appear, tap on the microphone symbol (usually at the bottom right of the keyboard that appeared when the document opened) – It’s possible that you may be requested to allow the app to use the microphone.

When you start speaking just speak in your normal tone and speed. Don’t leave it too long before you start speaking otherwise the microphone will time out and close. If this happens just tap the microphone symbol again.

After a short delay text will start appearing – Be aware that it will enter all words that it hears! 

High Contrast/Dark Mode

Many people find that the glare of screens on their mobile devices causes eye strain, especially as natural light gets darker in the evening.

Mobile devices have several ways to help you with this.

The simplest way is to use the inbuilt control in settings, to make adjustments as the light level changes, during the day.

Android

Open Settings > Display > Brightness level. There you will find a slider to use to make the necessary adjustments.

iOS

Open Settings > Display & Brightness. Again, you will find a slider to use to make the necessary adjustments.

On both systems you may also find there is also a setting that automatically makes changes, if enabled, based on the time of the day.

There is a school of thought that suggests that reducing glare also saves battery life. This is true on devices made over five years ago, but not reducing screen brightness has minimal impact on modern devices (unless the screen is left on for hours on end).