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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsPETER HEUMADER: For people with visual impairments, the items displayed on the screen are sometimes too small to read. In this case, the operating system offers mechanisms to enlarge the screen so that the content can be perceived easier. To enable the screen magnification on an Android device, go to Settings. And then scroll down to Accessibility. There, you can find a menu item called Magnification gestures, which is the one we will enable. Once screen magnification is enabled, you can enlarge the screen by tapping with your finger three times on the screen. In this mode, you can use pinch gestures to adjust the zoom level. Dragging the screen with two or more fingers allows the user to go through the content.

Skip to 0 minutes and 48 secondsTo disable magnification, the user has to tap three times again. There are also other options available for people with visual impairments. You can, for example, enlarge the font size so that the text is easier to read. Or you could use coloured version for better readability. These are the most common accessibility features for people with visual impairments on mobile devices.

Special Output Methods

Today’s mobile devices provide a great variety of output mechanisms and lots of them are helpful when supporting people with disabilities.


The video illustrates how magnification assistive software is included in smartphones as an accessibility option. It may be called ‘Zoom’ and can be used to magnify text and graphics, so that those with low vision or visual impairments can read what is on the screen.

Touch screen

The touch screen is both a standard output and input device on a modern smartphone. It provides text and graphic output in a very high resolution and can also be adjusted to present that output in high contrast mode.

Another advantage of touchscreen-input is that it is possible to increase the size of the controls on the screen (e.g. buttons) using magnification or zoom, so that people with motor, dexterity and mobility disabilities are able to tap on larger sized icons. Older mobile devices with small buttons were sometimes hard to operate for these individuals and the elderly.

Speech output and other sound feedback

You have heard in previous videos how mobile devices provide speech output, which is extremely helpful for people with low or no vision. You may have learnt that screen reading when offered as text to speech (where not every menu or action is spoken) can be very helpful for reading messages and other text. Voices can be changed and entire web pages or documents can be read aloud by choice with a selection of the text being highlighted and the action of ‘speak’ being chosen.

Braille devices

Blind people can connect their braille display to a mobile device, normally via a Bluetooth connection.

A bluetooth braille-display paired with an iPad. © This image is created by Johannes Kepler Universität Linz and Technische Universität Dresden, and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

Once connected the braille device can receive information from the mobile device’s assistive technologies (e.g. screen reader) and display virtually all the information that can be read on the screen. However, graphics cannot be displayed on braille displays, so most of the games which exist for mobile devices are not playable by blind users, but text based content can be displayed.

Can you think of anyone who may find the touchscreen display is a barrier to access?

© This video is created by Johannes Kepler University Linz and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

© This text is a derivative of a work created by Johannes Kepler Universität Linz and Technische Universität Dresden, and licensed under CC-BY BY 4.0 International Licence adapted and used by the University of Southampton. Erasmus + MOOCs for Accessibility Partnership.

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This video is from the free online course:

Digital Accessibility: Enabling Participation in the Information Society

University of Southampton

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