Smartphones are used by everyone, even those with disabilities. There are some that may be deaf and some that may be blind. But they still use these smartphones, even though it’s a bit tough to do because of their disabilities. Android has had some accessibility settings built into the OS for quite some time. One of the more popular settings is TalkBack, which will tell you what button you are about to push, and read to you what is on the display. Great for those that might be blind. But Google is looking to bring more accessibility features to Android as well as Chrome OS, and improve the features that are already in these two OS’.
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One of the tools coming to Android is the Accessibility Scanner. This is for Developers so they can test their own apps and also get suggestions as to how they can improve the accessibility of their app. Some suggestions could include increasing the contrast between text and the background, or enlarging some of the smaller buttons within the app. The accessibility scanner is actually available on the Google Play Store beginning today. So developers can head on over and pick it up right away.
With Android N slated to come out in the fall, accessibility features are getting a facelift. Well, actually, it’s just going to be more accessible. So in the startup screen – the screen you see when you first set up a new phone – there will be some Vision settings available. According to Google, these Vision settings will allow users to “control settings like magnification, font size, display size and TalkBack.” This is important because it means those that have visual impairment will be able to set up their new smartphone or tablet without help from someone else.
Now switching over to Chromebooks and Chrome OS, Google is giving users an improved screen reader. They note in their blog post that each Chromebook comes with a built-in screen reader known as ChromeVox. What this does is it enables users with visual disabilities to still navigate through the screen. This is done by using text to speech software. The newest version of ChromeVox is now in beta and includes a simplified keyboard shortcut model. This will make it even easier for users to navigate. Finally, with Google Docs, you can now edit documents with your voice. Now, this isn’t new, it was actually announced a few weeks ago, but it coincides with Google’s changes to accessibility features here in Chrome OS and Android.