Google Android Action Blocks

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Action Blocks: one tap to make technology more accessible

Think about the last time you did something seemingly simple on your phone, like Booking a rideshare. To do this, you had to unlock your phone, find the right app, and type in your pickup location. The process required you to read and write, remember your selections, and focus for several minutes at a time. For the 630 million people in the world with some form of cognitive disability, it’s not that easy. So we’ve been experimenting with how the Assistant and Android can work together to reduce the complexity of these tasks for people with cognitive disabilities.

Back at I/O, we shared how Googler Lorenzo Caggioni used the Assistant to build a device called DIVA for his brother Giovanni, who is legally blind, deaf and has Down Syndrome. DIVA makes people with disabilities more autonomous, helping them interact with the Assistant in a nonverbal way. With DIVA, Giovanni can watch his favorite shows and listen to his music on his own.

DIVA was the starting point for Action Blocks, which uses the Google Assistant to make it easier for people who have a cognitive disability to use Android phones and tablets. With Action Blocks, you add Assistant commands to your home screen with a custom image, which acts as a visual cue.

 

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Over 630 million people in the world have a cognitive disability. Enabled by the Google Assistant, Action Blocks is helping people simplify interactions on their Android phone. With a simple tap, Action Blocks lets you quickly message a family member, watch a movie, check your schedule for the day, and more. Google accessibility software engineer Ajit Narayanan and accessibility product manager Patrick Clary share more.
 

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Action Blocks makes routine actions easier with customizable buttons on your Android home screen.

Powered by the Google Assistant, you can easily set up Action Blocks for a loved one. Action Blocks can be configured to do anything the Assistant can do, in just one tap: call a friend, watch your favorite show, control the lights, and more.

Built with the growing number of people with age-related conditions and cognitive differences in mind, Action Blocks can also be used for people with learning differences, or even for adults who want a very simple way to access routine actions on their phones. Set it up for your family, friends, or for yourself.

Action Blocks may also be useful for anyone who could benefit from an easier way to perform routine actions on their device, including individuals with dementia, aphasia, 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.