Thursday, May 19, 2022

Are smartphones assistive technology and where do I learn about the accessibility of my device?

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) has become our yearly sign post to report on the progress made with the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) over the past year and give a glimpse at our commitments going forward in advancing mobile accessibility for consumers with disabilities, older users, their families and carers. 

Current mobile phones are very accessible and can help users with disabilities not only access the device and online services, but also their environment and improve participation in society. However, smartphones can be expensive and so far, do not qualify for funding. For this reason, the MWF launched a research project in 2021, investigating whether assistive consumer electronics could be considered assistive technology and hence would qualify for national AT funding. 

The research outcomes provide valuable input to discussions with policy makers on how to get people with disabilities better access to the technology that can help them – independent on whether it is classified as assistive technology or accessible mainstream devices. Furthermore, four academic publications are under preparation, which will inform the accessible ICT research agenda in this area. 

The GARI user survey showed that the wish for more information on how to use the accessibility features in the devices, remains constantly high. The MWF hence continued the series of short 1-2 minute videos, explaining where to find accessibility features in the device and how to activate them. The videos published to date can be found on the GARI website and YouTube channel. To date, 37 feature videos have been published covering both Android and iOS platforms. The MWF also started publishing feature videos for connected wearables. First videos include ‘Adjust Text Size’ for the Apple Watch and Smartwatch, “VoiceOver”, “Grayscale” and “Reduce motion”.

If you want to know more about insights made with the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative last year and planned milestones for GARI in 2022, have a look at our GARI Annual Report 2021: