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It may seem that cellphones and other technologies are geared towards able-bodied people, but smartphones actually have many features that allow for easy communication for everyone. In fact, smartphones and other digital solutions have allowed us to embrace inclusivity and diversity. For example, did you know that there are numerous accessibility features and apps that can make navigating your smartphone easier if you have a speech, hearing or visual impairment? Here are 5 to get your started.

1. Android Accessibility Suite

As of 2018, users of TalkBack also gained access to Switch Access and Select to Speak with the launch of the Android Accessibility Suite. TalkBack is a text-to-speech functionality – it allows people who have a visual impairment to “hear” what is on their screen. With Select to Speak, you can have a selected part of your screen read out loud. You can also point your camera at images or text and hear it described. Switch Access allows you to control your phone without using a touchscreen.

This app is built into many Android devices. Look for the Accessibility menu under Settings. If you don't see it there, click here to download the Android Accessibility Suite.

The Android Accessibility Suite offers TalkBack, Select to Speak and Switch Access

2. Live Transcribe

This new Google app, which is still in early development, uses instant captions so that those who are hard of hearing or deaf can “listen” to the person who is speaking. As the other person speaks, the words they’re saying appear on your screen. There are over 70 languages and dialects to choose from and it allows you to switch between languages so that you can follow bilingual conversations.

Be one of the first to test this new app – click here to download Live Transcribe for Android.

3. Voice Access

This accessibility service allows those who have a physical disability and are unable to manipulate a touchscreen to control their device with their voice. You can use voice commands, gestures and dictation to navigate your phone.

Click here to download Voice Access for Android.

Voice Access is useful if you have a physical disability

4. Voice Typing

Voice typing converts spoken words, such as messages and documents, into text. The more you type with your voice, the better Google gets at recognising your words.

For a step-by-step guide to setting up Voice Typing on your Android device, click here.

5. Colour Correction

The colour correction setting enables your device to compensate for colour blindness. It can be set for three types of colour blindness: deuteranomaly (red-green), protanomaly (red-green) and tritanomaly (blue-yellow). 

You can find Colour Correction and many other features in the Accessibility settings on your Android or Apple mobile device.

You can find your phone's accessibility options under Settings.

Did you know you can check your hearing using an app? Click here to find out more about the HearZA app, created by the hearX Group and the University of Pretoria.

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