Smartphone Accessibility Features for Older Adults

By Patrick Baker ~

Last year, AARP said that smartphones were the most purchased item among those surveyed. Adoption of mobile technology among older adults has increased during the pandemic.

However, the standard setup for nearly all smartphones does not acknowledge older adults’ unique physical needs, such as diminished vision and hearing. With that in mind, let’s review some of the accessibility features available on iPhone and Android that improve a smartphone’s ease of use for older adults.

Increase Text Size

If you’re having trouble reading the text on your smartphone, you can increase the text size to make the content more legible. 

Android

1. Go to your Android phone’s Setup
2. Tap Accessibility
3. Tap Font size
4. Use the slider at the bottom of the screen to make the text size larger or smaller

iPhone

1, Go to your iPhone’s Settings
2. Tap Accessibility
3. Tap Display & Text Size
4. Tap Larger Text
5. Tap the toggle switch to enable Larger Accessibility Sizes
5. Use the slider to increase the text size

Magnification

Zoom or magnify the content on your screen.

Android

1. Go to your Android phone’s Setup
2. Tap Accessibility
3. Tap Magnification
4. Tap the toggle to enable the Magnification shortcut
5. Follow the on-screen instructions for use

iPhone

1. Go to your iPhone’s Settings
2. Tap Accessibility
3. Tap Zoom
4. Tap the toggle to enable Zoom
5. Follow the on-screen instructions for use

Spoken Content

Spoken content accessibility features allow your smartphone to speak a highlighted section of text or say aloud all on-screen text.

Android

Set up Select to Speak

1. Go to your Android phone’s Setup
2. Tap Accessibility
3. Tap Select to Speak
4. Tap the toggle switch to Use Service
5. Follow the on-screen instructions for use

Set up TalkBack

1. Go to your Android phone’s Setup
2. Tap Accessibility
3. Tap TalkBack
4. Tap the toggle switch to Use Service
5. Follow the on-screen instructions for use

iPhone

Set up Speak Selection

1. Go to your iPhone’s Settings
2. Tap Accessibility
3. Tap Spoken Content
4. Tap the toggle switch to enable Speak Selection
5. Adjust the Speaking Rate using the slider

Once enabled, you can highlight text and then tap the Speak button.

Set up Speak Screen

1. Go to your iPhone’s Settings
2. Tap Accessibility
3. Tap Spoken Content
4. Tap the toggle switch to enable Speak Screen
5. Adjust the Speaking Rate using the slider

Once enabled, swipe down from the top of the screen with two fingers, and your smartphone will read aloud the screen’s contents.

Ringer Volume

Both smartphone brands use external, physical buttons and software to control your phone’s ring volume.

Android

1. Go to your Android phone’s Settings
2. Tab Sound
3. Use the sliders to adjust

  • Media volume
  • Call volume
  • Ring volume
  • Alarm volume

iPhone

1. Go to your iPhone’s Settings
2. Tap Sounds
3. Use the Ringer and Alerts slider to adjust the volume up or down.
4. Tap the toggle switch for Change with Buttons to use the physical volume buttons to adjust the volume up or down.

Numerous accessibility features, in addition to those highlighted in this article, can be used by going to Setup > Accessibility on your smartphone.

Patrick Baker is an IT consultant and the founder of Prime of Life Tech. To learn more about his services, visit primeoflifetech.com, email info@primeoflifetech.com, or call (720) 319-7145.

Do you have technology questions? Send an email to questions@primeoflifetech.com. Patrick will follow up with you and may use your question in a future edition of this column.

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