Google Pixel Guided Frame Super Bowl ad highlights importance of accessibility

Google Pixel Guided Frame Super Bowl ad highlights importance of accessibility

A photograph is worth a thousand words, even if you can’t see it.

Mobile phones have become lifelines for so many in the past couple of decades. And several tech companies are prioritizing accessibility for those with disabilities to make sure they are able to enjoy and utilize as many functions as possible.

Google’s new Pixel ad for Super Bowl 58 focuses on a life-changing accessibility feature.

The minute-long commercial, “Javier in Frame,” captures key moments in the life of a blind man, (played by actor Javier Kussrow), from selfies to his wedding day to starting a family, that he is able to photograph with the assistance of the Guided Frame accessibility feature in his Google Pixel 8 phone, which helps him navigate taking pictures with low vision.

The ad was shot and directed by Adam Morse and narrated by musician Stevie Wonder, both of whom are blind.

“The most important thing was to tell the story from the blind and low-vision community’s perspective, to give people an understanding of why this technology is so powerful and giving people a sense of independence, especially when it comes to photography,” says KR Liu, who is the head of brand accessibility at Google and was diagnosed with severe hearing loss as a child.

Here’s what to know about Guided Frame and other accessibility features on mobile phones.

What is Guided Frame on Google Pixel?

Guided Frame uses AI and facial recognition to generate audio cues along with high-contrast animations and haptic feedback to assist those who are blind or have low-vision with taking photos. The feature was first introduced in 2022 on the Google Pixel 7, though it only worked with the selfie camera. It now has been expanded to include the rear camera, too, and help recognize what’s in frame, such as faces, pets, food and some objects.

While Guided Frame and other accessibility options for mobile phone users aren’t new, Liu says the Super Bowl ad spreading the word on such features is critical.

As of 2023, about one in four adults in the U.S. have a disability, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Continuing to raise awareness of disability representation and culture is super important,” Liu says. “We need people to see that. We (people with disabilities) want to be a part of society like everybody else. We have the same passion as everyone else. We just want more visibility for people to understand what disability really looks like and really is all about.”

And AI may continue to be a big part of future accessibility features, Liu says.

“I think AI will accelerate innovation in this space, really build the tools that the disabled community needs at a pace that the actual population of disabled people is growing,” Liu says.

Android, iPhone tools for users who are blind or have low vision

  • TalkBack (Android) is a Google screen reader that gives eyes-free control of the device. Talkback also supports multi-finger gestures.
  • VoiceOver (Apple) is a screen reader available on iPhone, iPad, Mac and other Apple devices that can give auditory descriptions and help users navigate the screen or trackpad.

See more blind and low-vision accessibility features for Android and Apple devices.

Android, iPhone tools for users who are deaf or have hearing loss

  • Live captions (Apple, Android) give users real-time speech captioning, generating transcriptions of audio or visual media on their devices
  • Live Transcribe (Android) also gives users real-time speech-to-text, and can capture conversation and convert to text in multiple languages, aiding in translation, too.
  • FaceTime (Apple) is able to detect when sign language is being used, making that user prominent, along with including the live captioning feature.

See more audio and hearing loss accessibility features for Android and Apple devices.

Other accessibility tools on iPhones, Android

Both Apple and Android devices also offer LED flashing alerts, magnification, voice control or voice access and a number of assistive touch or switch access controls for those needing mobility options.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Google Pixel Super Bowl ad highlights importance of accessibility