My Guide to Making your Devices Visual Impairment Friendly

Technology and its advances have been a huge enabler for me. Everything from big fonts, to Google Maps to in built magnification has made my day to day life so much more accessible. In this post I talk through the accessibility settings I use on my phone, tablet and laptop and discuss two other devices that I love.

Android Phone Settings

My phone is a Samsung Galaxy A52s, bought in early 2022. I chose an android over an iPhone as I prefer the user experience and I have an android tablet, so I could link my accounts across both. From what I know, the accessibility settings on Apple and Android phones are of a similar standard. Currently, the main advantage Apple has is the ability to use Microsoft Soundscape. This is a research product from Microsoft that uses audio based technology to enable users to get around. It is only available on iOS at the time of writing but I really hope they bring it android soon! It looks like it will make getting around so much easier. Its basically like Google Maps but better!

The first thing I did when I got my new phone was to download the Android Accessibility Suite app. It’s available to download from the Google Play store and enhances the accessibility settings that are already present on your device. I got it to enable the Select to Speak function on my phone but it is a great all round app that provides loads of cool settings and features.

To access the accessibility settings and the accessibility suite (if you download it), follow these steps:

  • Go to settings (in the top right of your pulldown menu or access through the app on your phone)
  • Go to Accessibility
  • Tap Visibility Enhancements to see all the options for making your device easier to see

Here you can choose high contrast themes or fonts, high contrast keyboards, magnification options and increased font size.

I have set my phone up as follows:

  • High contrast keyboard – white letters on black background
  • Magnifier window is turned on and activated by enabling the accessibility button on the bottom right
  • My font size is 3rd from the largest font size available
  • Screen zoom is set to the highest
  • Select to speak is on and activated from the accessibility button on the bottom right
A screenshot taken from my phone. It shows the compose email screen in gmail. The background is black with white writing and lines. The keyboard is also visible which is a black background with white letters and white outlines on the buttons.

In the advanced settings section, you can turn on the accessibility button and assign the features you want to turn on / off with it. I have mine set up to activate magnification or select to speak. It is the little symbol of a person at the bottom right of my screen.

The display settings section also has some good options for reducing eye strain. I use the following:

  • Dark mode is on all the time
  • Eye comfort shield is on all the time

The image to the above right shows some of these settings in action in Gmail. As you can see, some of the text is cut off due to the large font size and screen zoom so it is not perfect.

Android Tablet Settings

I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab A7, which I use mostly for watching movies or TV and some gaming. As it is an android device, the set up is the same as my android phone.

I have the font size up to the 2nd largest and the accessibility button set up on the bottom right which gives quick access to the magnification options. As the screen is bigger on the tablet, I alternate between using the full screen magnifier and the magnifier window. High contrast keyboard, dark mode and eye comfort shield are on as well.

An image of my tablet set up with an external keyboard. The screen on the tablet shows a compose email screen on gmail. The background is black with white font. They high contrast keyboard is shown on screen with a black background, white letters and white button outlines. The external keyboard is black with yellow high contrast stickers affixed to them.
My android tablet and external keyboard with high contrast stickers

I sometimes use this for working, for doing video calls or writing so I have an external keyboard with high contrast stickers. These stickers came from Amazon. I also have an external mouse, and the on screen mouse pointer is set to large.

Microsoft Windows Laptop Settings

Second to my phone, this is the device I use to do most of my writing and other work. Its an older model HP laptop, with a 15inch screen.

Over the years, I’ve tried out a few different magnification software packages, but have always come back to the in built magnification options that come with a Microsoft Windows laptop. Best of all, these are free!

the text reads Ease of Access, narrator, magnifier, high contrast
The Ease of Access button on Windows

To access these, go to Settings and then Ease of Access. I use the magnifier settings which allow me to magnify the whole screen at once. I have set it to full screen mode, and to keep the mouse pointer and text curser in the middle of the screen. There are loads of different options here so you just have to find what works best for you.

A screenshot of the mouse pointer settings on a windows laptop The top line reads Change pointer size and colour. The second line shows an option to increase or decrease the pointer size. The third line gives options to change the pointer colour. The inverted colour option is selected.
The mouse pointer settings I use

Also under ease of access is the mouse and text curser options. I have mine set to large and with inverted colours, so it changes colour depending on the background. Finding the mouse or the text curser is one of the most difficult and annoying things for me so having them HUGE is essential!

As I am using the full screen magnifier, I prefer to use an external mouse rather than the in built trackpad, as I find it makes the magnifier easier to control.

Other game changing devices I use

I have two more devices that I use regularly that are fantastic. The first is an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, which I bought many years ago. I love this as I can change the text to whatever size I want, I can change the font, background colour, brightness and it just makes reading books ten times easier than using a real book. I have found that I read a lot more using this. Its also really lightweight.

The second piece of tech I’ve just recently started using is a pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds Live earbuds which I got free when I bought my phone earlier this year. I don’t think I can go back to using wired earphones ever again – I’m a convert! One of the best things about these is the ability to comfortably use only one earbud at a time. I very rarely ever use both and have never used a pair of over head headphones as I use my ears to help me see. So when I’m out and about and want to listen to a podcast or Google Maps, I can also have an ear free to listen to the world around me. All this without wires!

The best way to find out what tech settings work for you, is just to start playing around with your devices and see what works. This is how I found out about all of the above settings. If there are other settings I’m missing or you think would be beneficial, drop me an email at hello@lifeintheblurrylane.com

Thanks for reading- Aoife x


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