[Wash-at] [Washington Assistive Technology Act Program Blog] How
Accessible is the Droid?
Gaby de Jongh
gabyd at u.washington.edu
Mon Oct 11 14:32:13 PDT 2010
Market shares for sales of the Android Operating System have been
steadily creeping up past the iPhone and BlackBerry, and one must
consider its accessibility relative to its predecessors. In fact, the
Droid does have a few accessibility features built in:
- TalkBack uses speech feedback in order to announce the actions
performed by the user, and in some cases it announces the focus of the
application currently in use. TalkBack will also voice synchronized
events upon arrival, such as “new email”;
- SoundBack provides an auditory “sound effect” type of feedback and
produces different sound cues based upon the action the user is
- KickBack uses haptic feedback (vibration) whenever a user selects an
item on the touch screen.
Also built into the Android Operating System are Voice Dialer for the
telephone component, and Voice Search for the browser:
- Voice Dialer allows users to call contacts from the contacts list by
speaking a call command and the contact’s name, or users can dictate
individual digits in order to place calls to contacts not previously
stored. Voice Dialer also allows users to access their on-device
calendar by speaking the command “Open Calendar”;
- Voice Search lets the user perform an internet search via the built
in web browser by dictating the search terms.
Speech dictation is also built into the Short Message Service
application, thus allowing users to speak their text messages rather
than requiring use of the onscreen or physical keyboard.
While Google may be commended for addressing accessibility within the
Android OS, by no means do these features succeed in making the Droid
completely “eyes-free” or “hands-free.” However, unlike the iPhone,
BlackBerry, or Palm OS, the Android OS is open source, which means
developers can create applications, with little or no restrictions, and
post them to the Android Market for all to upload and install.
Apps4Android, a subsidiary of IDEAL Group, is one such software
development company committed to creating accessible applications
specific to the Android OS. Many of their apps are free or very low
cost and cover a wide range of accessibility functionality. For a list
of products available, visit their website:
Google also has a team assembled for the purpose of developing a screen
reader for use in combination with the touch screen for the Droid. You
can follow this project, and other eyes-free accessibility projects in
development for the Android OS, by visiting their website:
Posted By Gaby de Jongh to Washington Assistive Technology Act Program
Blog at 10/11/2010 02:07:00 PM
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