Choosing the Right Device: Tablets vs. Computers


In the past, accessible choices for computing were limited.   

Now, consumers say that they are overwhelmed with choices.

The BIG Question……Is it better to get a tablet or computer?


apple i pad view front and back

accessibility button

blind man at a computer working with JAWS




General Description of Accessibility

Before making a decision, a general description of accessibility for users with vision loss may be helpful. Screen magnification or text-to-speech are two options.  Screen magnification accessibility enables the user to magnify what is seen on the screen and includes additional features such as changing the color scheme or the size of the mouse pointer.  Text-to-speech software (called a screen reader) enables the device to read text when it appears on the  screen.  A combination of screen magnification and text-to-speech is very beneficial for users with vision impairments.


iOS Devices made by Apple

2 large and one big


iOS is the name of the software operating system Apple uses in the iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, and iPad Mini. They all use the same version of  iOS operating system, so once you learn how to use one of these devices, you can quickly learn any of the others.

All of these Apple devices are accessible right  out of the box. Users can quickly turn on the Zoom setting for screen magnification, or VoiceOver for screen reading. No additional software is needed to download or purchase: just turn on these features from the Settings menu. All of the iOS devices will connect to the Internet for email and Web browsing. Users can do a wide variety of tasks that help with productivity –  maintaining a calendar, address book, recording notes, and reading ebooks.

i phone view front and back

Pictured left is an iPhone showing the reverse contrast feature.

Magnification and contrast are two significant factors to consider for individuals with low vision.

Tablets Not Made by Apple

a series of electronic devices

There are numerous Tablet options such as the Kindle Fire, Google Nexus, and Samsung Galaxy, all of which use an operating system called Android. The latest version of the Android operating system is called KitKat. Most Android tablet computers will allow users to read email, browse the Web using the Internet, read electronic books, etc.

Android devices have made great strides in accessibility.  It now has an operating system that can be used as a fully functioning screen reader and screen magnifier, comparable to the Apple iOS devices. Android tablets may cost less, but they lack the full range of accessibility options found on the iOS devices.

Windows Computers

girl at computer using zoom text

Many Windows users with low vision find that using the built-in screen magnifier and contrast enhancements make the computer accessible. Others find that additional third party screen magnification software such as ZoomText or Magic are required for a wider range of accessibility features such as text-to-speech as needed or sharper screen images at higher magnification. Users who require a screen reader will find the narration is limited to basic computing tasks.


So, what should you get? 

Try ignoring features or the latest gadgets each device offers.  What will you be using the device for?  Choose the one that best completes the tasks you want to accomplish. If it is to be used as a business tool, do your homework to find out what’s compatible for the specific business environment you will need to be successful.  Get the tools and training needed, then treat yourself to one of the other devices “everyone is talking about” for fun!