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Technology has become such an important part of our lives, especially over the pandemic and lockdowns. For some children and young people, assistive technology can be the key to overcoming barriers they’d otherwise face due to a disability or illness.
Having access to inclusive technology equipment, software, and product settings can reduce isolation and improve access to education. Most importantly, access allows a child or young person to have the same opportunities as their peers without disabilities and lets them participate fully in every aspect of their life involving tech.
We’ve produced a video demonstrating our Top 12 Christmas Makaton signs and symbols to encourage everyone to have an inclusive and connected Christmas.
Here are some facts to help you understand how children, young people, and adults can use some of the assistive functions of technology to have a healthy and connected Christmas.
There are over 14 million people living with a disability in the UK and 8% of children live with a disability.
Ofcom say that just as many people with disabilities use their phone to connect to the internet than those without a disability.
People living with a disability are less likely to use a Computer but are more likely to use a tablet or iPad than those living without a disability.
Assistive technology refers to anything that helps a person to function independently, allowing them to live a healthy and dignified life (WHO, 2020).
When it comes to using assistive communications technology on electronic devices, there are many useful functions. Here are our Top 5:
1. Customising Text
Users on Apple and Android can alter the size of the text on their devices to suit their needs. They can configure the text to look bigger or make it bold. Users can also customise text colours to ensure the screen is accessible.
2. Voice Over
Most smartphones have a voice over or ‘read aloud’ function. Once enabled, on-screen text is read out by an automated voice. This can be useful for messages, articles, and emails. Most devices allow you to customise the accent and speed of the reading voice so that the text is audible in a style that suits specific needs.
3. Sound and Vibration Alerts
For those with hearing loss, most devices now come with customisable vibration controls. This means users can increase the vibration intensity or rhythm to be alerted to call and notifications in a way that ensures connection.
4. Audio Settings
Audio settings on both Apple and Android devices come with customisable controls. Users can configure settings to switch to ‘mono’ where the left and right speakers will play the same audio. They can also adjust audio via left or right or right channels, which is useful for those with hearing impairments.
5. Hearing and Sound Alerts
For those who use a hearing device, these can be configured with both Apple and Android devices. If a hearing device is compatible, it can be paired with a device to direct audio from a phone or tablet via the hearing device. Android and Apple both offer sound recognition and detection, which can be configured to alert users to specific sounds, such as a doorbell or a baby crying.
Share this article with someone you think would benefit from using these settings to help them to engage and connect this Christmas. While accessibility is important to everyone, so is online safety. To learn how to configure safety and privacy settings on devices and popular platforms, visit our Safety Centre.