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Tweak Smartphones To Make It More Accessible To Seniors Here's how this innovation is changing the lives of elders like never before

By Kewal Kapoor

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Navigating our way around a smartphone might be second nature to you, but that's not the case with seniors. Old age comes with its own set of problems, from decreased mobility to visual impairment. This, coupled with the fact that seniors find the interface confusing only makes it more difficult for them to operate the device. Fortunately, there is a way around this. By making some minor tweaks to the settings, you can make the user experience as intuitive as it was intended to be. Here's how you can make the smartphone experience more accessible for elders

  • Improve Readability – If you have an elderly person in your family, the most common complaint you will hear from them when using a smartphone is difficulty reading. While boosting the size of the text does improve readability, make sure you also increase the contrast so that the colors are rendered more distinct.

  • Simplify the User Interface – Instead of tweaking individual settings, use a launcher to reskin the phone interface. This includes home screens, settings menus, app drawers, and more. Some launchers are designed to make the browsing experience smoother for seniors by streamlining the options and menus, making the text large and aesthetically pleasing, and the colors brighter for easy readability.

  • Activate Voice Control – This one is a no brainer. Even if you make the interface smoother with the help of magnifiers and large buttons, it can get difficult to tap away at the touchscreen with age, especially with the loss of manual dexterity. This is precisely the reason every smartphone comes with voice-activated digital assistants. Seniors can just speak out their requests instead of having to rely on their fingers to type out messages or check for weather forecasts.

  • Activate Text to Speech – If they have trouble reading even after you have adjusted the contrast and font size, then you can activate text to speech on the device so that the voice assistant reads text out loud. This is especially helpful for elders with poor vision. Not only does it free them from having to read the text, it also protects their eyes from further strain. If elders in your family have a habit of reading the newspaper every morning, then you can install the news app on their phone and activate the text to speech feature.

  • Make Off-screen Reading Easier – Once you have made the smartphone easier to navigate, you can further use the device to improve accessibility in the real world as well. For example, you can teach them how to use the flashlight to illuminate dark spaces and text in dimly lit environments. Better still, you can install a text magnifying app, which will make it easier to read the fine print, menus, books and other documents.

  • Install Teamviewer – If you don't stay with your grandparents, and they keep running into problems with their smartphones, then install Teamviewer, an app that grants you remote access to their device. If they ever run into trouble again, ask them to open the app and give you the access code so you can take control of their device and fix the problem.

Kewal Kapoor

Director & Creative Strategist, CHAI Creative and Return of Million Smiles

With a successful and multi faceted career as a writer, journalist, producer and director behind him, Mr. Kewal Kapoor had just the appropriate cross-industry experience to make him an exceptional consultant and creative strategist. This versatility of experience led him to conceive CHAI Kreative & Advertising agency, a unique service provider that helps startups and new businesses lock in the right strategies and solutions to grow and flourish.

Parallel to this endeavor is his pursuit of actively fighting age discrimination and creating an amenable environment for the elderly by promoting their participation in social enterprise, communication and entrepreneurship. From this pursuit emerges his second major enterprise – the Return of the Million Smiles.

An avid reader and passionate writer who is proficient in Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi and English, Mr. Kewal Kapoor has conceptualized and created groundbreaking TV documentaries and shows including the first ever series on Tax Laws in India, the first Human Rights based show on Indian television and a programme on the Kargil martyrs. He served as the Executive Producer with a top notch Production house in Mumbai and has been a consulting partner with some of the top advertising agencies in India.

Since 2012, his focus has intensified towards work that creates genuine value in people’s lives. In 2017, he started CHAI Kreative and Advertising Private Limited which has crossed a turnover of Rs. 3.5 crore in a short span of time.

One of Kewal Kapoor's missions in life has been to create a life of health and dignity for the elderly.  With The Return of Million Smiles project, his objective of promoting dignified ageing has become a reality.

Employing technical solutions to create emotional wellbeing for the aged and making them an important part of the community living space is the vision. An impressive deal has already been frozen for which his company wishes to infuse capital in the coming financial year, with the positive goal of reaching some major markets abroad.

Mr Kapoor is also on the Advisory Board of The Poddar Foundation and has played a key role in launching the Mental Health brand "Silence Todo". 

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