Smartphones, tablets can accommodate you

I used to make my annual pilgrimage to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) at the Cobo Center in Detroit every January. A self-proclaimed gearhead, although I confess I can’t turn a wrench, I loved spending the whole day at NAIAS and coming home with a trunkload of catalogs to keep me entertained through the long CLE winter.

However, just like the electronic gadgets we procure stopped coming with manuals, many car manufacturer booths started eliminating hard copy literature, instead pointing visitors to their websites. I haven’t been back to NAIAS since!

Most digital natives will instinctively do a Google search for an electronic – aka “PDF” – manual to find out something; digital immigrants, like yours truly, grew up consulting books, encyclopedias and manuals for knowledge.

A smartphone is probably the most expensive “accessory” you carry when leaving the house but without knowing its capabilities through a manual, usage may be relegated to making phone calls, texting and checking up on your Facebook or Instagram feeds.

Even when you do use your smartphone like a pro, it may get difficult to operate as you age gracefully. Or you may have a visual or hearing impairment that makes the operation of smartphones challenging. Frustration and/or intimidation may set in, further taking the “smart” out of the smartphone.

The good news is that your smartphones and tablets are equipped to accommodate. This is when I really wish there was a hard copy manual included to at least explain these benefits.

Whether you use an iPhone or iPad from Apple, or an Android-based smartphone or tablet from brands such as Samsung, LG, Motorola or others, there is a feature called “Accessibility” hidden under the “Settings” menu that may help overcome, or at least alleviate, challenges.

For example, under the Accessibility sub-menu, you can change font or icon size for easier reading, make it read back each letter you type, and many other assistive functions. Just like closed captioning enables a hearing impaired individual to enjoy a TV show, options under the Accessibility sub-menu may make your device more useful.

To explore what assistive functions your smartphone or tablet has, follow these general directions:

  • Apple iPhone or iPad: Find and tap the “Settings” icon, followed by tapping on “General,” then on “Accessibility” for assistive functions.
  • Android-based device: Find and tap the “Settings” icon, then tap the “Accessibility” menu item.

Although many of you may know this already, even without exploring the Accessibility settings, smartphones and tablets come with useful features such as voice recognition where they will type whatever you speak. This is activated by tapping the microphone icon on the keyboard. This and the options under the Accessibility menu can make your relationship with your devices a much more pleasant one.

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with over 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder for the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 10, Issue 13, Posted 9:19 AM, 07.03.2018