Global project to improve access to mobiles for disabled and elderly

The Mobile Manufacturers Forum originally developed the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) Project to provide a one-stop shop for information about accessibility features for mobile phones. The original GARI database allowed consumers to search for a mobile phone that met their specific accessibility requirements.

In August, 2013 the GARI project launched a new website - www.gari.info - at the M-Enabling Australasia Conference in Sydney.  

The new GARI website is the latest update to the GARI project to help older people and those with a disability search for mobile devices that suits their specific accessibility requirements. 

The new GARI website also includes tablets and apps, allowing consumers to search for devices that run their favourite accessibility apps as well as more than 110 other accessibility features for people with mobility, vision, hearing, speech or cognitive impairments. 

For example, a person with vison impairment can now search the GARI website for a new smartphone or tablet that works with their favourite text-to-speech app that can read out emails and text messages along with other features they might be searching for like voice recognition software or a high contrast display.

Some of the most popular features to search for on the GARI website include:

  • Front-mounted cameras. This simple feature may seem a novelty to some, but for many users with hearing loss it can make the world of difference, allowing them to carry out a face-to-face sign language conversation using video call or conferencing function.
  • Simplified display. Smartphones and tablets have become so advanced that they can be too difficult or confusing to use for some older people or those with a cognitive disability. That's why some devices also come with the ability to simplify the user display showing you only the functions on the phone you want to use, keeping the rest out of sight.
  • Voice recognition. Allows you to make and receive calls and access other features of a phone or tablet through simple voice commands. This feature can be particularly useful for people with mobility or dexterity problems or those with vison impairments.

AMTA and the MMF believe that improving access to mobile devices for older people and those with a disability is very important because these are the members of our community who can most benefit from instant communication with family and friends. 

Mobile phones and tablets have many features that can assist, and GARI is designed to highlight those and help people find a model that will meet their needs.

AMTA has been a strong supporter of the GARI Project since its launch and notes that the GARI website now includes information on 229 different mobile devices available on the Australian market.