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Smartphones & gadgets

How to control your Android phone with just your eyes

As you age, your senses get duller. Go to any drug store in the country and you’ll find a rack of cheap reading glasses. It’s a part of life that our vision is among the first senses to go, but fortunately, there are ways to mitigate this.

Do you have trouble making out the text on your screens? Your computer, smartphone and tablet have built-in accessibility features for the visually impaired. Tap or click here for instructions on enlarging the text on your tech.

Accessibility is progressing beyond simply making words bigger on the screen. Google recently introduced an app for people with speech and motor impairments that makes it easier to use the phone. Read on to see how this fantastic tech works.

Advanced accessibility

Camera Switches is a new Android accessibility feature that makes it possible to navigate a smartphone using eye movements and facial gestures. It uses the front camera as a switch to set up one action to scan and another to select an item.

Choose a combination of two facial gestures such as looking in a specific direction, smiling, raising your eyebrows or opening your mouth.

Once you’re set-up, you can use gestures to scroll through text on a website, browse a playlist and select a song, look through your photos and videos, use your navigation apps, read through virtual menus, place orders, etc.

Tap or click here to check out Google’s Look to Speak feature, which lets you communicate with others using your eyes.

Google put out a tutorial video that features music from Jason Becker. Jason was a guitar virtuoso before ALS took away his ability to play any instruments, walk, speak or even breathe independently. He communicates with his eyes using a system created by his father. He has even used the system to create new music.

Jason posted the following on his official Facebook page:

“Great new Google project for people with limited speech and movement. I am touched that it was inspired by me and that they used my music. Thank you my dear friends at Google. I know it will help a lot of people.”

Setting up Camera Switches

​​To start using Camera Switches, you’ll need to download Google’s free Accessibility App:

Once you have the app, you can start setting up facial gestures. Here’s how:

  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Switch Access.
  • Turn on Switch Access, then tap Allow to grant it permissions.
  • Go back to Settings and select Camera Switch.
  • Select Two switches (recommended) to set up two gestures.
  • On the next screen, choose your scanning mode. Linear scanning moves through items one at a time. Let’s select that one.
  • Now select two gestures from a list. One to scan and one to select.
  • Go to Settings > Accessibility > Switch Access > Settings to customize your gestures, set up gestures for global actions and more.
  • Now you can use gestures to navigate your phone. An icon at the top of your screen lets you know when Camera Switches are active.

Hard of hearing? Tap or click here to learn how to get live captions on your phone or computer.

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