Technology is an important part of our lives, and as restrictions have limited physical contact it’s become even more important to be connected safely.

Despite its importance in our lives, children and young people living with disabilities can face barriers to accessing technology. Technology can help reduce isolation and improve independent access to education and it can also support children and young people living with disabilities and additional needs to communicate.

We’ve produced a video demonstrating our Top 12 Christmas Makaton signs and symbols to encourage everyone to have an inclusive and connected Christmas.

This article aims 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.

The Facts:

  • 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

  • 30% of people living with a disability who use a tablet found that their disability made it difficult to use.

Understanding Assistive Technology

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 a number of useful functions, here’s 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 colours to ensure the screen is accessible to all users.

2. Voice Over

Most smartphones have a voice over or ‘read aloud’ function. Once enabled this means that on-screen text will be audible. 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 your needs. 

3. Sound and Vibration Alerts

For those with hearing loss, most devices now come with customisable vibration controls. This means you increase the vibration intensity or rhythm so you can be alerted to call and notifications in a way that’s useful to you.

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 or users 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 your device to direct audio from your phone or tablet via the hearing device. Android and Apple both offer sound recognition and detection, which can be configured to alert you if the doorbell rings or a baby cries.

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.

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