Thursday, June 28, 2012

High contrast phone display’s help those with limited vision

There are many degrees of visual impairment ranging from short sightedness through to complete blindness all of which present unique challenges to using a mobile phone.

Phones that offer the ability to increase the size of text on the screen or “zoom in” may be beneficial to someone who has trouble reading small characters but would obviously be of no use to a person who could not see at all.

Likewise, voice control functions and braille phone attachments would be helpful to a user with complete blindness, but may be a step too far for someone whose vision is only partially limited.

Another option that can benefit people with moderately low vision is to have a phone that has a “High Contrast Mode”. This particular feature is useful to those who have difficulty reading text that does not have sufficient contrast with the background.  Changing to High Contrast Mode changes the background and foreground colours, most commonly by displaying white text on a black background.

The ability to improve a phone display’s contrast can also help users who are viewing the screen in areas where there is a lot of ambient light and where glare off the screen can make reading the display difficult.

On the other hand, many people experience sensitivity to bright displays and can have trouble focusing on a bright screen while maintaining the ability to distinguish between individual characters. These users actually need low contrast settings, as opposed to people with low vision who need high contrast settings. Therefore a phone that has an adjustable contrast control would be of greater benefit.

The GARI database now has both “High Contrast Mode” and “Adjustable Contrast Control” as searchable options to help identify phones that support these features. To find such phones check the ‘High Contrast Mode’ box or the ‘Adjustable Contrast Control’ box under the vision features section of our online search tool or by clicking on the 'find phones' link at the top of this page.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Saving time with shortcuts

Did you know double tapping the spacebar when typing on your iPhone makes a full stop? Or that pushing the ‘M’ key on your Blackberry takes you to messages and that pushing the ‘F’ key while emailing on your Android phone forwards the message?

Handy keyboard shortcuts like these can help you navigate around your phone’s display faster and can save you time when performing common tasks like browsing the internet or typing a text message or email.

Likewise, for someone who finds it difficult or painful to type on a mobile phone, such as those with arthritis, the ability to perform a task using less key strokes can help reduce the physical strain that using a phone puts on their body.

So how can you make the most of keyboard shortcuts?

There are literally thousands of shortcut commands across the many different mobile operating systems including Android, iOS (Apple), Blackberry (RIM) and Symbian (Nokia).

However, not all phones will have the same shortcut commands so it is important to check the user manual or do a search online to work out which shortcuts work for your particular device.

In addition, many modern phones actually now let you personalise their shortcut commands to specifically assign a feature to a certain keystroke or press of a button.

For instance if you wanted quick access to the camera function, you could program the camera to open whenever you push the ‘C’ key. Or you might want to push the ‘F’ key to access Facebook and ‘M’ to open music. On the iphone you can determine whether you want the voiceover, zoom or white on black accessibility features turned on when you triple-click the home button.

Another way to personalise shortcuts on touchscreen phones is to move a feature or app to a place that makes it easier to access.

By giving people the ability to customize their phones display and create their own shortcuts, people who may have found it too difficult to use a phone before can now tailor their phone to meet their particular needs, making what may have been a complex task much easier.

To search for a phone that allows you to make your own shortcuts check the ‘Personalise shortcut’ box under the vision features section of our online search tool or by clicking on the 'find phones' link at the top of this page.