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Many people with cerebral palsy rely on specialized or adaptive equipment to achieve day-to-day tasks. Technology has transformed the lives of everybody, allowing them to track everything from steps, to heartbeats, to calories. But for people with disabilities, “wearables” like smartwatches can facilitate communication that was once impossible.
Access to at-a-glance information without the need for a button press alone is a giant step forward in terms of accessibility. Being able to see or write emails without the use of a keyboard also means that those with fine motor skill issues will have greater abilities when using their devices.
Smartwatches are primarily used for two things: notifications and activity tracking. Both Apple Watch and Android Wear do these well. For activity tracking, Apple has more glanceable visuals while Google has simpler, easier to access data.
Some of the main accessibility features of the Apple Watch use the vibration function which they call prominent haptic. If you are hard of hearing or deaf it can be very difficult to know when you are receiving a message or call. The vibration feature on smartwatches means the wearer can “feel” an incoming message. Another clever feature of vibrations is utilized in the maps function. Small vibrations or taps let wearers know if they’ve arrived at a destination, or which direction to turn.
A full list of accessibility features for the Apple Watch Include: VoiceOver, Zoom, Extra Large watch face, Font Adjustments, Grayscale, Reduce Motion, Reduce Transparency, On/Off Labels, Mono Audio, Taptic Engine and Prominent Haptic.
Android Wear has introduced some accessibility options with its 5.1.1 update including magnification, color inversion and large text sizes. However, it cannot speak text unless your watch has a built in speaker, which currently only exists on the LG Urbane 2nd Edition LTE.
When you’re able-bodied, technology is cool and assists you with things in life. If you have a disability, technology makes more things possible. Smartwatches are an affordable way to do that.