Smartphones are technological miracles that have revolutionized our lives. For many, it organizes their lives, plays their favorite videos, is their camera, and is their main source of music. Did you know that low-vision users can take advantage of a host of features built-in?

Check out what is offered on the Apple and Android platforms, they are free to use by just owning your phone. Island Retina is here to help you with your vision needs. Call our office for more information or visit our website at


Voice Control: Use your voice to fully control your device

  • Your voice substitutes for tapping, swiping, typing, and other movements
  • Speak commands such as, “Tap Accessibility”
  • Customize commands and add new words to Voice Control's vocabulary
  • Available only on iOS 13 or later and iPadOS

VoiceOver: Listen to what is happening on your screen such as device battery level, which app your finger is on, and who is calling


  • Tap an image with three fingers to have it described
  • Adjust speaking rate and pitch
  • Works with all built-in apps and many third-party apps
  • Helps with typing and editing text
  • Virtual rotor control facilitates efficient movement through websites and documents
  • Braille compatibility
  • Audio Descriptions: Get scenes in videos described to you

Look for/listen for the AD audio descriptions icon

  • Description tracks don't come with all videos and movies
  • If you don't want AD on by default, set it for a particular video through the video's “Audio & Subtitles” controls

Zoom: Magnify what's on your device screen

100% to 1500% screen magnification so users can better see or read emails, pictures, news articles, recipes, and much more

  • Full-screen and picture-in-picture view with multiple filter options
  • Zoom Controller allows quick access to Zoom controls
  • Works with VoiceOver

Magnifier: Use a digital magnifier for real-world environments

Point the camera at people or objects to increase their size or detail

  • Take static images to examine at your own pace
  • Adjust filters to differentiate colors
  • Use flash to light objects

Larger Text, Bold Text, and Other Display Options: Read with your preferred text weight and size

  • Read at your preferred size in all Dynamic Type apps, including Mail, Messages, Calendar, Contacts, Notes, Settings, Music, and some third-party apps
  • Experiment with bold text, dark mode, color inversions, contrast white point reductions, and grayscale
  • Apply settings only to zoom windows, if you want

Speak Screen and Speak Selection:

Hear the content of the screen or a selected block of text even if VoiceOver is off

Find these options under “Spoken Content” in Accessibility

  • Use “Speak Screen” to have the entire screen read
  • Once it is enabled, tell Siri, “Speak Screen,” or swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen
  • Use “Speak Selection,” for the text you specifically select to be read out loud
  • Get emails, iMessages, web content, and books read to you, and type or edit text
  • Adjust dialect and speaking rate
  • Have words or sentences highlighted as they are read

Dictation: Speak where you would otherwise type

Tap the keyboard's microphone button to speak

  • Dictate shopping lists, emails, text messages and more
  • Punctuate and format text as you dictate

Siri: Do a variety of tasks with a voice-activated assistant

Place phone calls, send messages, receive directions, and much more

  • Ask Siri where the nearest pizza restaurant is and hear the answer read out loud
  • Use Siri to turn on/off other features such as Invert Colors and VoiceOver
  • Available on iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, AirPods, CarPlay, Apple Watch, HomePod, Mac and Apple TV
  • Check out these accessibility shortcuts: iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, Apple Watch and MacOS.

Android Accessibility Features

Accessibility with Android devices is similar to what you get with Apple devices, but there's a bit more with Android. As always, keep your device updated so you have everything recent.

To enable features, head to the Accessibility menu in Settings. If your device doesn't have some of the elements listed below, you may need to download the Android Accessibility Suite. Otherwise, here's a rundown of what is available:

Voice Access: Open apps, navigate your device, and edit text—all by speaking.

  • TalkBack: This is a screen reader to inform you about what's happening on screen and to facilitate device navigation. You can access TalkBack through Settings and Accessibility (probably need sighted help) or press both volume keys for a few seconds.
  • Select to Speak: Select onscreen items to have them read or described aloud. Likewise, point your camera at images or text in your physical environment to have them read or described.
  • Switch Access: Use a switch or keyboard instead of a touchscreen to control your device.
  • Magnification: Zoom in to make items on your screen appear up to eight times larger.
  • Font size and display size: Make your fonts and/or display size larger. Font sizing won't work on Chrome Android, which has its own settings.
  • Contrast and color: Experiment with the options for high contrast text, dark theme and color inversion, and color correction.
  • Action Blocks: Action Blocks are useful for some people who have Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury or a cognitive disability in addition to poor vision. Users select a simple picture from the home screen to trigger an action such as booking a Lyft ride or calling a specific friend. This feature works in tandem with Google Assistant.
  • Change time to take action: On some apps, messages are visible only temporarily. Give yourself more time by setting a preferred timeout such as one minute or two minutes. Unfortunately, this feature does not work with all apps.
  • TalkBack Braille keyboard: Tap your screen to enter 6-dot Braille.
  • BrailleBack: If you need combined speech and Braille, BrailleBack works with TalkBack.
  • Google Assistant: This digital assistant is better than Siri in most situations. (Fortunately, it can be downloaded onto Apple devices.) Say, “Hey, Google,” to initiate an action. Make calls, send texts, set reminders, look up emails, and much more.
  • Accessibility shortcuts: Quickly turn on accessibility features and navigate among apps.

NOTE: Post in Mid-March