Action Blocks

A man in a wheelchair smiles while he uses his phone.

One of the greatest things about modern smartphones is the level of customization that is available to its users. Developers today are so much more conscious about how their technology might be used, especially when it comes to offering Accessible apps and services. In fact, besting the other brands accessibility is a major driving factor for both Google and Apple. And as we’ve mentioned before, at the time of me writing this article, both companies are doing an amazing job with their current built-in accessibility tools.

Today we are going to have a quick look at a free app that was developed to provide an even further level of customization as well as an even higher level of accessibility than what is provided out of the box. Action Blocks is a tool that allows users to create accessible shortcuts through their smartphone, making it even easier for persons with disabilities or cognitive differences to fully utilize their device. The app was developed by Google and it’s completely free, making it essentially one button push away from being a built-in feature. And given how much it can do for persons with disabilities, we hope to see this app automatically included on future Android devices.

A person looking at accessible shortcuts on their phone, including to "call your daughter," "take a selfie," "car to doctor," and "room warmer."

The app is powered by Google Assistant, and it can be configured to do anything that Assistant can do. For example, with one tap you could make a call, schedule an appointment, and much more. Plus, with the included Accessibility Service, you can even connect a switch to your device, allowing you even more environmental control. Action Blocks can even be set up to speak phrases or sentences, allowing individuals with communication challenges to quickly communicate with others during emergency situations.

Those who might benefit from this app include individuals with dementia, aphasia, speech disorder, autism, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, Down syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, dexterity impairments, or other conditions. People who use adaptive switches, Switch Access, or Voice Access may also benefit. Of course, this technology is also beneficial to anyone who wants to find an easier way to perform routine actions on their smartphone including students, working professionals, the elderly, or really anyone who wants to be more efficient on their phone.

Action Blocks is available for Android devices only. To learn more about this app, click here.

This post originally appeared on the AT Help Desk website.

Tags: apps, assistive technology, AT HelpDesk, Atlantic Regional Office

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