Smart phones are now an integral part of our daily life, providing access to social media, news, shopping, work activities and much more! Whatever you think about the use of smartphones, there is no denying that they are only going to become more popular.

There is no escaping the rivalry between Apple and Android. Fear not! In this blog, there is no picking sides.

Apple have recently released iOS13 which has some great new accessibility functions for users of varying abilities. This does give Apple products a slight edge for some people but Android phones also have some great accessibility functions.

Mouse Access

Both Apple and Android have inbuilt mouse functionality, allowing the user to navigate their phone screen with a Bluetooth mouse. This is great for a user who may not have enough dexterity in their fingers to select the small onscreen icons.

When purchasing a Bluetooth mouse, be sure to buy a mouse which is purely Bluetooth and does not need a USB dongle connector, like this one from HP —

Connecting your mouse to an iPhone

The mouse function with Apple is an AssistiveTouch feature — this will be covered later — so this needs to be turned on before the mouse can be connected.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Accessibility
  3. Select Touch under the Physical and Motor section
  4. Toggle AssistiveTouch to ON

Now it is time to connect the mouse

  1. In the same menu, select Pointing Devices
  2. Select Bluetooth Devices.
  3. Put the mouse into pairing mode
  4. You’re good to go!

Connecting your mouse to an Android phone

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Bluetooth
  3. Connect you mouse using the instructions in the manual

If you find it difficult to press the buttons on the mouse, Android has a handy dwell feature. Dwell means that the mouse will automatically click once it has hovered over an icon for a set amount of time.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Accessibility
  3. Select Dwell Timing
  4. Toggle to ON
  5. Adjust the Delay before click scale

Switch Scanning

Just like using a mouse, switch scanning is a great way to access your smart phone if you have limited dexterity. One of the best way to scan is to use a wireless Bluetooth switch and the method for setting this up is pretty similar for both Apple — and Android —

  1. Connect the switch in Bluetooth settings
  2. Open Settings
  3. Select Accessibility
  4. Select Switch Control/Switches
  5. Turn ON Switch Control
  6. Select Add a Switch
  7. Follow the on-screen instructions

Ablenet sells a device which allows you to use one or two switches —

The iSwitch is a single wireless switch —

Siri/Hey Google

There is a tiny person who lives in your phone and takes orders, much like the home smart speakers which have taken the world by storm!

Most of you will be aware that if you say the magic phrase ‘Hey Siri’ or ‘Hey Google’ (even if it is by accident) you will get a response which will allow you to ask the phone to do or answer something, for example, ‘What is the weather like today?’ What you might not know is that this tiny person can navigate your phone, open apps, read messages and even create dictated messages!

This method of accessing your smart phone does take a little getting used to and can be slightly inaccurate at first, especially if you have a scouse accent like me. The more you use it, the more accurate it will become and it is definitely worth persevering!

However, it is worth noting that you must be connected to the internet to use these feature.

Here’s how to set it up…

Apple —

Samsung —

Android —

Apple Voice Control

This is a great new feature of the latest Apple update. It is similar to Siri but arguably better and does not require a internet connection! When you become a competent user of voice control (practise makes perfect) you will be able to use your phone completely hands-free.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Accessibility
  3. Select Voice Control
  4. A download will begin

Have a look at Apple’s Voice Control user guide to see how you use it and how to customise the commands.

Apple Assisitive Touch

This feature is great if you are able to select the on-screen icons but struggle to press the physical buttons. The assistive touch also replaces the need for on-screen gestures such as swiping to the App Switcher page.

Once set-up, there will be a small circular icon on-screen. This icon can be moved around the screen and once tapped, it will display a menu. This menu can be customised within Settings.

  1. Open Settings
  2. Select Accessibility
  3. Select Touch
  4. Select Assistive Touch

For more information regarding customising the menu or creating gestures, visit Apple’s Assistive Touch information page.

If you are thinking about getting a new phone and are unsure of which operating system to go for, it is worth arranging a shop visit with one of their accessibility specialists.

Good luck with your smart phone journey!