The wireless industry is committed to providing accessible cell phones to individuals with physical or mobility limitations.
Now more than ever, wireless devices are creating opportunities for people with limited mobility through automatic responses and voice control, smart keyboards and hands-free choices and more.
Here are some accessibility features that can be built in to your device:
- Audio, Visual and Vibrating Features – You can assign specific audible, visual, and vibrating alerts for functions like incoming calls or messages, calendar events and confirming keyboard inputs. You can even assign your favorite contacts their own ringtones, or use one ring tone or vibration pattern for incoming calls and another for text messages.
- Automatic Responses – Program your device to answer automatically or redial certain calls or messages. For example, your phone can be programmed to call family members with the touch of one button.
- Customizable Displays – With accessibility and display settings, adjust your wireless device’s screen for better contrast, illumination, larger font size, and to “zoom” in and magnify.
- Hands-free or One-Touch – Get a hands-free device with a speakerphone, or assign certain functions to one button for dialing or other pre-programmed functions. For example, if programmed, you could attach the phone to your wheelchair frame and press one speed-dial button to contact the paratransit service.
- Intelligent Keyboards – Text-based features may have intelligent keyboards or auto-spell features that appear only when you need it and display a keyboard appropriate to the task you’re performing. These functions can be set as a default and can predict the words you are trying to spell.
- Near Field Communications (NFC) – This data transfer technology enables smartphones to communicate with other devices containing an NFC tag (chip) within short range distances. NFC allows a wireless user to complete such tasks as tapping to pay at convenience stores, opening doors without keys and making thermostat temperature adjustments.
- Non-Slip Keys and Controls – Some device’s keys and controls have a non-slip surface so they are easier to press and hold.
- Tactile Keys – These specially marked keys help you position your fingers for specific functions like volume control, on/off, shortcuts for speed dialing, assignable ringtones and alerts or automatic answering. Predictive text and auto text features also help you quickly enter information.
- Voice Control – Most smartphones can be activated with voice control. On your wireless device,use your voice to make a call, play music, enter text or find contacts.
- Voice Output – Voice Output features “speak” to you, offering information like battery level, Wi-Fi and cellular network signal levels, incoming calls or messages and contacts. This way, your phone can literally tell you how much battery life is left before your phone needs to be charged.
An in-store representative will be happy to help you set up these services.
If a cell phone doesn’t come with a built-in accessibility feature, ask a wireless carrier representative if it can be customized with downloadable accessibility apps and services. New solutions are constantly being added through apps including relay services and functions like text-to-speech, screen readers and automatic dialing. It’s also a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional or wireless carrier representative about accessibility accessories and compatibility with Assistive Technology (AT).