Android Updates Boost Accessibility

voice access betaSmartphones make our lives so easy we don’t often think of the challenges they pose for individuals with disabilities. Google is working to make their products more accessible, releasing a group of updates including Voice Access Beta, which allows anyone to control their phone by talking to it.

Voice Access Beta is meant for “people who have difficulty manipulating a touch screen due to paralysis, tremor, temporary injury or other reasons.” It allows users to instruct their device to perform a range of tasks, such as “open Chrome,” or “scroll down.”

At the moment, the beta version of Voice Access is still in the testing stage. However, more accessibility updates have already launched such as Android N, which assists those with visual impairments by utilizing voice commands alongside a Chrome screen reader.

“Nearly 20 percent of the U.S population will have a disability during their lifetime, which can make it hard for them to access and interact with technology, and limits the opportunity that technology can bring,” Google accessibility engineering manager Eve Andersson was quoted as saying in a PCMag article.

“That’s why it’s so important to build tools to make technology accessible to everyone – from people with visual impairments who need screen reader or larger text, to people with motor restrictions that prevent them from interacting with a touch screen, to people with hearing impairments who cannot hear their device’s sounds.”

In addition to the Android updates, Google Docs is now running voice commands to allow users to type, edit and format their work.