Accessibility updates that help tech work for everyone

Editor’s note: Today is Global Accessibility
Awareness Day, and we’ll be sharing
resources and tools for education
, as well as new accessibility
features for Android and
Google Maps

In 1993, Paul Amadeus Lane was an EMT with his whole life
planned out. But at age 22, he was in a multi-car collision that
left him fighting for his life and in recovery for eight months.
After the crash, Paul became quadriplegic. He soon realized that
his voice was one of his most powerful assets—professionally and
personally. He went back to school to study broadcasting and became
a radio producer and morning show host. Along the way, Paul
discovered how he could use technology as an everyday tool to help
himself and others. Today, he uses accessibility features, like

Voice Access
, to produce his own radio show and share his
passion for technology.

Stories like Paul’s remind us why accessible technology
matters to all of us every single day. Products built with and for
people with disabilities help us all pursue our interests, passions
and careers. Today, in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day,
we’re announcing helpful Android features and applications for
people with hearing loss, deafness, and cognitive differences.
While these updates were designed for people with disabilities, the
result is better products that can be helpful for everyone. 

Action Blocks: One-tap actions on Android for people with
cognitive disabilities

Every day, people use their phones for routine tasks—whether
it’s video calling family, checking the weather or reading the
news. Typically, these activities require multiple steps. You might
have to scroll to find your video chat app, tap to open it and then
type in the name of the contact you’re looking for. 

For people with cognitive disabilities or age-related cognitive
conditions, it can be difficult to learn and remember each of these
steps. For others, it can be time consuming and
cumbersome—especially if you have limited mobility. Now, you can
perform these tasks with one tap—thanks to Action Blocks,

a new Android app that allows you to create customizable home
screen buttons

Android Blocks

With Action Blocks, tap on the customized button to launch an

Create an Action Block for any action that the Google Assistant
can perform, like making calls, sending texts, playing videos and
controlling devices in your home. Then pick an image for the Action
Block from your camera or photo gallery, and place it on your home
screen for one-touch access.

Action Blocks is part of our
ongoing effort
to make technology more helpful for people with
cognitive disabilities and their caregivers. The app is
on the Play Store, and works on Android devices on
Android 5.0 and above. 

Video showing how Action Blocks is helping people simplify
interactions on their Android phone.
Live Transcribe: Real-time transcriptions for everyday

In 2019, we launched
Live Transcribe
, an app that provides real-time, speech-to-text
transcriptions of everyday conversations for people who are deaf or
hard of hearing. Based on feedback we’ve received from people
using the product, we’re rolling out new

  • Set your phone to vibrate when someone nearby says your name.
    If you’re looking elsewhere or want to maintain social distance,
    your phone will let you know when someone is trying to get your
  • Add custom names or terms for different places and objects not
    commonly found in the dictionary. With the ability to customize
    your experience, Live Transcribe can better recognize and spell
    words that are important to you. 
  • It’s now easier to search past conversations. Simply use the
    search bar to look through past transcriptions. To use the feature,
    turn on ‘Saving Transcriptions’ in Settings. Once turned on,
    transcriptions will be saved locally on your device for three
  • We’re expanding our support of 70 languages to include:
    Albanian, Burmese, Estonian, Macedonian, Mongolian, Punjabi, and

Live Transcribe is pre-installed on Pixel devices and is
available on
Google Play
for devices Android 5.0 and up. 

Sound Amplifier: Making the sounds around you clearer and

Sound Amplifier
, a feature that clarifies the sound around you,
now works with Bluetooth headphones. Connect your Bluetooth
headphones and place your phone close to the source of the sound,
like a TV or a lecturer, so that you can hear more clearly. On
Pixel, now you can also boost the audio from media playing on your
device—whether you are watching YouTube videos, listening to
music, or enjoying a podcast. Sound Amplifier is available
Google Play
for devices Android 6.0 and above.

Sound Amplifier

Use Sound Amplifier to clarify sound playing on your phone.

Accessibility matters for everyone

We strive to build products that are delightful and helpful for
people of all abilities. After all, that’s our mission: to make
the world’s information universally accessible for everyone. If
you have questions on how these features can be helpful for you,
visit our Help
, connect with
our Disability Support team
or learn more about our accessibility products on

Source: FS – Social Media Blogs 2
Accessibility updates that help tech work for