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(Credit: Screenshot by Download.com)

Technology advances everyday, with a goal to make life easier. But, if new technology isn't accessible for everyone, like for the 62 million people in the U.S. with limited mobility, it doesn't make life easier.

Google's new Voice Access tool, tested by the company's Accessibility Team, makes using a smartphone and controlling specific functions like tapping a button, scrolling, and navigating easier.

When you download the Voice Access app, an icon will appear on your smartphone screen. Tap the icon, and the tool issues a prompt to turn on Voice Access through Accessibility in Settings.

  1. Turn Voice Access in Settings from the app prompt.
  2. Grant permissions to Voice Access.
  3. Tap Next in Voice Access Setup Wizard.
  4. To start Voice Access, say "Ok Google." To move on say, "Tap Next."
  5. When you're finished with the tutorial, say "Go home," to close.

SEE: HeadGaze app lets users with disabilities navigate with simple head movements

After completing the tutorial, Voice Access is ready to use and runs in the background of your smartphone. To start the tool, simply say "Ok Google." To turn it off, say "Stop listening."

The tool assigns numbers to the smartphone's functions and apps. To access on, just say "Ok Google, open..." whichever app number.

To see all the available voice commands, like "scroll down," "type," "delete all," and more, users can say "show all commands" or "what can I say" for a full list.

The tool asks for access to monitor actions like app interactions, retrieve and inspect window content, and observe typed text, including personal information.

Google said Voice Access is geared toward people with Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, spinal cord injuries, and other mobility limitations. The company notes that anyone can use the service. Voice Access could mean less distracted driving, or being able to perform a task on your device while your hands are full.

Voice Access only supports English for now, but Google plans to add more languages in the future.

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Takeaways

  1. The Google Voice Access tool is a free Android app that lets users operate their smartphones completely hands-free.
  2. The tool, designed for people with limited mobility, operates through voice commands and assigns numbers to functions and apps. Users can text, scroll, navigate apps, and more by saying "ok Google."

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for CNET's Download.com. She served as Editor in Chief for the Louisville Cardinal newspaper at the University of Louisville. She interned as Creative Non-Fiction Editor for Miracle Monocle literary magazine. Her work appears in Glass Mountain Magazine, Bookends Review, Soundings East, and on Louisville.com. Her cat, Puck, is the best cat ever.