Google has made a commitment to improving the accessibility of Android for users with disabilities. The primary targets are users with vision and hearing difficulties. We’ve already seen a huge amount of effort from Google in expanding accessibility
- Live Transcribe – Giving hearing impaired users opportunity to be more involved in conversation
- Live Relay – Giving the same subset of users more interactivity with their phone and conversation.
- Action Blocks – Helping those with cognitive disabilities to communicate
- Be My Eyes – Connecting volunteers to visually impaired users who need a set of eyes to help them complete a task
- Maps with voice guidance – Helping visually impaired users navigate
Now we’re seeing a huge injection of effort into the Android operating system for hearing impaired users with hearing aids. Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity for hearing aids means that not only can users connect their hearing aids for short periods, the BLE connection means they can connect all day without destroying their phone or hearing aid batteries.
For the first time, hearing aids can pair directly with your Android phone. Jon Hurwitz, product manager on Android Bluetooth, shares how his team delivers a low energy audio solution with longer battery life, and product tester, Shaunin Baoerjiin, explains the significant impact it’s had on her life.
This is a huge step forward for the Android operating system to work towards parity with iOS which is currently the accessibility king of the mobile market.