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As more of us rely on smartphones for daily tasks, there is an increasing need to be sure these devices work well for everyone, including those with wet macular degeneration. In recent years, many improvements have been made to smartphones to better serve the low vision community, including better zoom and contrast functionalities, apps and more. Read on for practical tools you can use to optimize your smartphone to meet your vision needs.

Man with glasses sits at kitchen table while looking at cell phone in hands
Stock photo. Posed by model.


Screen Magnification and Zoom

Today’s smartphones allow users to magnify their screens when needed, or on a permanent basis to ensure accessiblity. By clicking your screen with a certain number of fingers, you can zoom in and nagivate easily. There are also smart typing tools that will magnify the text on your screen but keep the keyboard size the same, ensuring you have your full keyboard at your disposal.

Text & button adjustments

People with and without low vision often adjust the size of the on-screen text, to make it easier to read. In addition to making your text larger, you can bold text so that it stands out. Aside from text, you can also adjust button shapes to make them easier to tell apart from text labels.

Magnifier

By enabling magnifier, you can use the phone’s camera to quickly zoom in on your surroundings. For example, if you are at the grocery store looking for a particular variety of bread, you can zoom in on the labels to ensure you pick the correct one.

Display settings

Your display settings can easily be changed to adapt to your needs. Consider the following options:

  • Turn up your screen’s brightness to ensure strong contrast
  • Increase contrast between app foreground and background colors
  • Reduce transparency so that apps with transparent and blurred backgrounds are easier to read
  • Change your phone’s color settings so that apps, icons or keyboards stand out more clearly

Audio descriptions

Turn on the “audio descriptions” setting to have scenes in videos described to you by your device. This is especially helpful for those with wet AMD who need support with their central vision to fully experience visual programs. Of note, not all videos include audio descriptions.

Voice commands

Voiceover command makes it easy to use your phone without ever needing to read the screen yourself. Instead, the phone will read the words for you. After enabling voiceover command, click any area on your screen that you’d like read aloud. Your phone will start reading what you have selected. Voice commands also let you know if your phone screen has dimmed to alert you to your phone getting ready to go to “sleep” while you are not actively using it. Within the voiceover settings menu, you can also change the voice you are hearing (from female to male, for example), adjust the pitch, and enable braille, among other options.

In addition to voiceover commands, you can also enable the voice control function so that you can verbally navigate between apps and pages. With voice control, you can tap, swipe and type, among other actions, all by using your voice, rather than touching your screen.

For specific tips and guidance on ways to maximize your smartphone experience, call your smartphone service provider.

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