The wireless industry is committed to developing better technology for people with functional limitations. Below are the features that can be built in to wireless products and services to make them more accessible:
- Alternate formats -Simply ask if product information and billing can be provided in alternate formats like Braille, large print and audiocassette.
- 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 - Wireless devices may be programmed to automatically answer or redial certain calls or messages.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tactile Keys - These specially marked keys help you position your fingers for specific functions like volume control, on/off, shortcuts for speed dialing, assignable ringtones and alerts or automatic answering. Predictive text and auto text features also help you to quickly enter information.
- Voice Control - Use your voice to make a call, play music, enter text or find a contact.
- Voice Output -Voice Output features “speak” to you, offering information like battery level, Wi-Fi and cellular network signal levels, incoming calls or messages and contacts.
If a cell phone 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 relay services and 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).
- 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. www.wirelessrerc.org; www.mywirelessreview.com