The wireless industry is committed to providing accessible wireless devices and services to people with cognitive disabilities.

Father and daughter looking at cell phone



Below are the features that can be built in to wireless products and services to make them more accessible:

  • Audio, Visual and Vibrating Features - You can assign specific audible, visual, and vibrating alerts for functions like incoming calls or messages, calendar events and confirming keyboard inputs. You can also assign, create, purchase and download distinctive ringtones at a frequency you can hear more easily.
  • Automatic Responses - Certain wireless phones may be programmed to automatically answer or redial certain calls or messages.
  • Basic Keyboards - Some keyboards have both the letters and numbers on the same screen, eliminating the need to switch between different keyboards while typing.
  • Customizable Screen Lock Timeout - Adjust settings that will prevent the screen of the device from turning off if there has been a long period of inactivity.
  • Customizable and Standard Displays - Adjust a wireless device’s screen for better contrast, illumination, larger font size, and to “zoom” in and magnify. You can also assign icons or images for functions like caller ID.
  • Distractionless Modes - Some wireless devices offer settings that will allow you to turn off different areas of the screen or restrict certain apps or functions to help users stay focused. 
  • Hands-free or One-Touch - Wireless devices may offer hands-free features like speakerphones, or may have one button dialing and other pre-programmed features.
  • Intelligent Keyboards - Some text-based features have intelligent keyboards or auto-spell functions that appear only when needed, and display a keyboard that is specific to the task.
  • Photo Assisted Contacts List - This setting allows you to add a photo of an individual next to their contact information.
  • Voice Control - Use your voice to make a call, play music, enter text, find a contact or record voice reminders.
  • Voice Output - Voice Output features “speak” to you, offering information like battery level, Wi-Fi and cellular network signal levels, incoming calls or messages, contacts and menu options.

If a wireless device doesn't come with a specific built-in accessibility feature, ask a wireless carrier representative if it can be customized by adding or downloading applications (or “apps”). Third-party developers may offer wireless device apps that add Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) functions like text-to-speech, screen readers and automatic dialing. It’s also a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional or wireless carrier representative about accessibility accessories and compatibility with Assistive Technology (AT).


  • American Association of People with Disabilities - American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the country's largest cross-disability membership organization, organizes the disability community to be a powerful voice for change - politically, economically and socially. AAPD was founded in 1995 to help unite the diverse community of people with disabilities, including their family, friends and supporters, ant to be a national voice for change in implementing the goal of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). 
  • Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities - Established in 2001 by the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado System, the goal of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities is to promote advances in science, engineering, and technology that will enhance the quality of life and independent living of individuals with cognitive disabilities. The Coleman Institute provides leadership in public policy, science and technology to strengthen the voice of the cognitive disability community. 
  • Wireless RERC - Funded since 2001, the Wireless RERC (Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center) has become a recognized leader on issues and solutions related to the accessibility and usability of mobile wireless products and services by people with disabilities. The Wireless RERC's mission is to promote equitable access to and use of wireless technologies by people with disabilities and encourage the adoption of Universal Design in future generations of wireless devices and applications.;