BUILT-IN ANDROID ACCESSIBILITY

OVERVIEW

Android has numerous built-in accessibility features. Below is an overview of those features.

All built-in accessibility features are already available on Android mobile devices and can be activated and controlled in device Settings.

Note that this information assumes that the device is running Android 7.0 Nougat or higher. Moto and Google devices sold by RAZ Mobility have this latest operating system.

This section provides information about built-in features within Android. To see more info about third-party accessibility applications, click the button below.

BLIND OR LOW VISION

Talkback: To interact with your device using touch and spoken feedback, you can turn on the TalkBack screen reader. TalkBack allows someone who cannot effectively see the display to control and benefit from all aspects of their device.

Learn more…

Select to Speak: This capability is designed primarily for individuals who are low vision or who have a print disability. If you want spoken feedback only at certain times, you can turn on Select to Speak. Select items on your screen to hear them read or described aloud.

Learn more…

You can select items on your screen and hear them read or described aloud with Select to Speak for Android.

Step 1: Turn on Select to Speak

  • Open your device’s Settings app
  • Tap Accessibility, then tap Select to Speak
  • At the top, tap the On/Off switch

Step 2: Use Select to Speak

  1. Tap the Select to Speak button that will be permanently placed on your screen. You will be prompted to identify the portion you’d like read.
  2. To identify what you’d like read, tap an item on your screen, or drag your finger across the screen to hear multiple items.

Note: Select to Speak might not work with every browser.

Tips

  • To stop spoken feedback, tap anywhere on the screen.
  • To move the Select to Speak button, touch and hold the button, then drag it.

Font size: To change the size of the text on your screen, adjust the font size. This will increase or decrease the size of the displayed text in various applications, such as email and messaging applications. It does not affect the text size in all third party applications.

Learn more…

You can change your font size to make your text easier to see.

Change font size

To make your font size smaller or larger:

  1. Open your device’s Settings app
  2. Tap Accessibility, then tap Font size
  3. Use the slider to choose your font size

The font size setting doesn’t apply to the Google Chrome app or certain other third party apps, which may have their own text scaling control.

Display size: The display size feature changes the font size, as well as other elements displayed on your screen, such as app icons, the navigation bar and menus. Basically, everything displayed on your screen gets larger or smaller, not just text.

Learn more…

You can enlarge or shrink all items on your display, such as text, app icons, the navigation bar and menus. Basically, everything displayed on your screen gets larger or smaller, not just text. Everyone with low vision should be using this feature.

Change display size

To make items on your screen smaller or larger:

  1. Open your device’s Settings app
  2. Tap Accessibility, then tap Display size
  3. Use the slider to choose your display size

Some apps on your screen might change position.

Useful Articles

Magnification gestures: To temporarily zoom or magnify your screen, use magnification gestures.

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You can zoom or magnify to see your Android device’s screen better.

Step 1: Turn on magnification gestures

  1. Open your device’s Settings app
  2. Tap Accessibility, then tap Magnification gestures
  3. At the top, tap the On/Off switch

Step 2: Use magnification gestures

Zoom in

To zoom in and make everything on your screen bigger:

  1. Triple-tap anywhere on the screen, except the keyboard or navigation bar
  2. Now you can pan or adjust the zoom level:
    1. To pan across the screen, drag two or more fingers
    2. To adjust the zoom level, pinch two or more fingers together or spread them apart
  3. To zoom out, triple-tap the screen

Temporarily magnify the screen

To temporarily magnify the screen:

  1. Triple-tap and hold anywhere on the screen, except the keyboard or navigation bar
  2. To move the magnified area, drag your finger across the screen
  3. To stop magnifying, lift your finger

Notes about magnification gestures

  1. After you turn on magnification gestures, single taps take slightly longer. This short delay lets your device find out if your tap is part of a triple-tap.
  2. If you open or close an app when zoomed in, you automatically zoom out. To zoom in again, simply triple-tap.

Contrast and color options: To adjust contrast or colors, use high-contrast text, color inversion or color correction.

Learn more…

High contrast text

High contrast makes text easier to read on your device. This feature fixes the text color as either black or white, depending on the original text color.

To enable or disable high contrast text, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility.
  2. Select High contrast text.

High-contrast text is currently an experimental feature, so it might not work correctly everywhere on your device.

Useful Video

Color inversion

Color inversion exchanges color values. For example, black text on a white screen becomes white text on a black screen. This feature is experimental.

To enable or disable color inversion, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility.
  2. Select Color inversion.

Color inversion is currently an experimental feature, so it might not work correctly everywhere on your device.

Color correction

The color correction setting enables your device to compensate for color blindness.

To enable or disable color correction, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Color correction.
  2. Set the switch to the on or off position.
  3. To change the color correction mode, select Correction mode, then choose one of the following options:
    • deuteranomaly (red-green)
    • protanomaly (red-green)
    • tritanomaly (blue-yellow)

Color correction is currently an experimental feature, so it might not work correctly everywhere on your device.

Useful Articles

BrailleBack: You can connect a refreshable braille display to your device via Bluetooth. BrailleBack works with TalkBack for a combined speech and braille experience, allowing you to edit text and interact with your device.

Learn more…

Install and enable BrailleBack

With BrailleBack, you can connect a refreshable braille display to your Android device via Bluetooth. BrailleBack works with the TalkBack screen reader service to provide a combined speech and braille experience.

As you use BrailleBack, screen content appears on your braille display, and you can navigate and interact with your device using the keys on the display. You can also input text using the braille keyboard.

BrailleBack is an open-source application developed by the Google Eyes-Free Project.

Step 1: Make sure your braille device is supported

The current version of BrailleBack supports the following devices:

  • APH Refreshabraille
  • Baum VarioConnect
  • Esys EuroBraille
  • Freedom Scientific Focus Blue (14 and 40 cell models)
  • HandyTech (Basic Braille, Active Braille, Braille Star, Braille Wave, Braillino, Easy Braille)
  • Harpo Braillepen 12
  • HIMS (BrailleSense, Braille EDGE, Smart Beetle)
  • Humanware Brailliant (1st generation and BI models)
  • Optelec Alva (BC640, BC680)
  • Optelec EasyLink 12 Touch
  • Papenmeier Braillex Trio
  • Seika (notetaker and 40 cell display)

Step 2: Install BrailleBack on your Android device

You can get BrailleBack from Google Play using one of the following options:

  • Option 1: Use this direct link to BrailleBack on Google Play, then select Install. Choose a device where you’d like to install the app, then select Install.
  • Option 2: Open the Play Store app on your Android device, then search for “BrailleBack.” Select BrailleBack from the search results, then select Install.

Step 3: Enable BrailleBack and pair your braille display

Before you enable BrailleBack, make sure that TalkBack is also enabled.

To enable BrailleBack on your Android device, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > BrailleBack.
  2. Slide the BrailleBack switch to the on position.
  3. Go back to Settings. Under Wireless & networks, select Bluetooth.
  4. Slide the Bluetooth switch to the on position, if it’s not there already.
    • Select the name of your braille display.
    • If your braille display isn’t listed, make sure the display is in pairing mode, then select Search for devices on your Android device.
    • For pairing instructions, refer to your braille device’s documentation.

Google Assistant: Allows the user to perform many tasks by voice. Tasks include making phone calls, reading, composing and sending emails and text messages, controlling smart home appliances, opening applications, getting basic information such as time, date and weather, performing Google searches, having the news read, playing music, creating shopping lists, viewing and creating reminders, adding items to your calendar, setting alarms, doing math, looking at photos setting a kitchen timer, translating language, converting measurements and currencies and more.

Learn more…

Google Assistant allows people to use their voice to communicate in various ways, organizing their day, controlling their smart home applications, obtaining information through search, shopping and much more.

Communication

Through simple voice commands, people can send text messages or emails, speak incoming messages or emails, place phone calls or obtain contact information.

Organize Day

Create a schedule, reminders or to do list, set an alarm and ask Assistant to remind you of various items.

Control Smart Home Applications

Control your lights, temperature, music and appliances in your home.

Obtain Information

Use Google search to obtain an almost limitless amount of information, such as health information, the weather, traffic conditions, local entertainment and more.

Shop

Create and manage your shopping list. On Google Home the user can use Google Assistant to purchase items from more than 50 retailers, including Costco and Whole Foods.

Useful Videos

MOBILITY

Switch Access: For users with limited mobility, Switch Access is an alternative to using the touch screen. You can use a switch or keyboard to control your device.

Learn more…

Switch Access lets you interact with your Android device using one or more switches instead of the touch screen. Switch Access can be helpful for people with dexterity impairments that prevent them from interacting directly with the Android device.

Switch Access scans the items on your screen, highlighting each item in turn, until you make a selection.
To use Switch Access, you’ll first need one or more switches. There are several kinds of switches:

  • Use an external switch: A switch is a device that sends a keystroke signal to your Android device. Several companies sell these devices, such as AbleNet, Enabling Devices, RJ Cooper, and Tecla. These devices connect to your Android device via USB or Bluetooth. (Google does not endorse these companies or their products.)
  • Use an external keyboard: You can configure a standard USB or Bluetooth keyboard to work as a switch device by assigning one or more of its keys to actions.
  • Use buttons on your Android device: Built-in buttons on your Android device, such as the volume up and volume down buttons, can also be assigned to actions. This option is intended for developers. If you’re using this option, you can skip the first two setup steps in the next article.

Set up Switch Access for Android

These steps describe how to set up Switch Access for your Android device.
Note: If you plan to use the buttons on your Android device as your switches, skip Step 1 and Step 2 below.

Step 1: Connect switches to your Android device

If you’re using an external switch device or keyboard, the first step is to connect it to your Android device.

  • USB: Connect the switch or keyboard to your Android device with a compatible USB cable.
  • Bluetooth: On your Android device, navigate to Settings > Bluetooth. For more instructions, check the documentation for your switch or keyboard, or learn more about connecting to Bluetooth devices.

Step 2: Enable the on-screen keyboard

After you’ve connected an external switch device or keyboard, Android automatically hides the on-screen keyboard. To enter text with Switch Access, you need to re-enable the keyboard.
To re-enable the on-screen keyboard:

  • Open your Android device’s Settings app
  • Select Language & input. Follow the steps for your Android version:
    • Android 7.0 and later: Select Physical keyboard > Show virtual keyboard
    • Android 6.0 and earlier: Select Current keyboard > Hardware (Show input method)

Step 3: Choose basic scanning settings

Choose your basic scanning settings to fit your preferences and how many switches you have. If you want to try a different setup later, you can change your settings.
To get started, choose one of the options below:

Auto-scanning (1 switch): Press your switch to start scanning, then press the switch again to select the highlighted item.

Step scanning (2 or more switches): Press one switch to move the highlighting on your screen, then press another switch to select the highlighted item.

Group selection (2 or more switches): Groups of items are highlighted in colors that correspond to your switches. On some devices, this is called "Option scanning."

Useful Video

Voice Access: If using a touch screen is difficult, the Voice Access app lets you control your device with spoken commands. Use your voice to open apps, navigate, and edit text hands-free. Voice Access is currently in a limited beta release in English only.

Learn more…

The Voice Access app for Android is developed by Google and lets you control your device with spoken commands. Use your voice to open apps, navigate, and edit text hands-free.  This application is currently a beta and may not be stable

Step 1: Check your device and settings

Note: Voice Access is currently in a limited beta release in English only.
Before you install Voice Access, check your device and settings:

  • Required: Android version 5.0 or later. To find your Android version, go to Settings > About phone or About tablet.
  • Required: Google app. To make sure you have the latest version, download or update the Google app from Google Play.
  • Recommended: "Ok Google" detection from any screen. Learn how to turn on "Ok Google."
  • Recommended: Google Now Launcher. Install the Google Now Launcher from Google Play.

Step 2: Download Voice Access

Download Voice Access from Google Play.

Step 3: Start using Voice Access

To turn on Voice Access, follow these steps:

  • Open your device’s Settings app
  • Tap Accessibility, then tap Voice Access
  • At the top, tap the On/Off switch
  • Open your notification shade
  • Tap the Voice Access notification labeled "Touch to start"
  • Say a command, such as "Open Gmail"

The first time you turn on Voice Access, two extra steps help you get started:

  • A guide to "Ok Google" settings helps set you up for a good hands-free experience
  • An interactive tutorial teaches you how Voice Access works

Helpful Video

Google Assistant: Allows the user to perform many tasks by voice. Tasks include making phone calls, reading, composing and sending emails and text messages, controlling home smart appliances, opening applications, getting basic information such as time, date and weather, performing Google searches, having the news read, playing music, creating shopping lists, viewing and creating reminders, adding items to your calendar, setting alarms, doing math, looking at photos setting a kitchen timer, translating language, converting measurements and currencies and more.

Learn more…

Google Assistant allows people to use their voice to communicate in various ways, organizing their day, controlling their smart home applications, obtaining information through search, shopping and much more.

Communication

Through simple voice commands, people can send text messages or emails, speak incoming messages or emails, place phone calls or obtain contact information.

Organize Day

Create a schedule, reminders or to do list, set an alarm and ask Assistant to remind you of various items.

Control Smart Home Applications

Control your lights, temperature, music and appliances in your home.

Obtain Information

Use Google search to obtain an almost limitless amount of information, such as health information, the weather, traffic conditions, local entertainment and more.

Shop

Create and manage your shopping list. On Google Home the user can use Google Assistant to purchase items from more than 50 retailers, including Costco and Whole Foods.

Useful Videos

DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING

Captions: You can turn on captions for your device and specify options (language, text, and style) for closed captioning. Learn how to turn on captions.

Learn more…

You can turn on captions for your device and choose options (language, text, and style) for closed captioning.

Turn on captions

  1. Open your device’s Settings app
  2. Tap Accessibility, then tap Captions
  3. At the top, tap the On/Off switch

Change caption settings

When captions are on, you can adjust the following settings in Settings > Accessibility > Captions.

  • Language: Select the language in which you want captions to appear
  • Text size: Select the size for your caption text
  • Caption style: Select the style and color for your caption text and background

Your caption settings might not apply to certain applications.

Useful Video

Mono Audio: makes both left and right audio channels get played back simultaneously through any active sound output.

Learn more…

Mono audio is a great option for people who have difficulty hearing out of one ear. It makes both left and right audio channels play simultaneously through any active sound output.

Turn On Mono Audio

  1. Open your device’s Settings app
  2. Tap Accessibility, then tap the On/Off switch

Useful Article

Vibrate: The phone will vibrate for incoming calls, alarms and notifications.

Learn more…

Activate Vibrate for Calls Only

  • Open your device’s Settings app
  • Tap on Sound, then tap the On/Off switch for Also vibrate for calls

Activate Vibrate Always

When your device’s ring volume is turned all the way down to Vibrate:

  • Notifications set to play a sound will vibrate instead.
  • Notifications set to vibrate will still vibrate.
  • Your phone will vibrate for calls.

Activate Vibrate for Email or Text Messages

Some apps let you choose whether to vibrate for notifications. Use the settings menu inside each app. For example, Gmail, Microsoft Outlook and Google Messenger all have settings that allow you to select vibrate.

PRINT DISABILITY

Select to Speak: This feature is designed primarily for individuals who are low vision or who have a print disability. If you want spoken feedback only at certain times, you can turn on Select to Speak. Select items on your screen to hear them read or described aloud.

Learn more…

You can select items on your screen and hear them read or described aloud with Select to Speak for Android. This capability is helpful to people who have difficulty reading.

Step 1: Turn on Select to Speak

  • Open your device’s Settings app
  • Tap Accessibility, then tap Select to Speak
  • At the top, tap the On/Off switch

Step 2: Use Select to Speak

  • Tap the Select to Speak button that will be permanently placed on your screen. You will be prompted to identify the portion you’d like read.
  • To identify what you’d like read, tap an item on your screen, or drag your finger across the screen to hear multiple items.

Note: Select to Speak might not work with every browser.

Tips

  • To stop spoken feedback, tap anywhere on the screen
  • To move the Select to Speak button, touch and hold the button, then drag it