Google has made some great enhancements to the Android platform with the goal of making their devices more user friendly to people with blindness or low-visibility. Google engineers have simplified the process for developers to augment their code to let Android use its accessibility features for these users. These accessibility features utilize either TalkBack (a spoken feedback system), or enable connected devices which give a blind person a legible description of the display to read using BrailleBack (a Braille emulator). TalkBack is already implemented in Android, while BrailleBack is available in the Play Store.
These features were put on display at an “Enabling Blind and Low-Vision Accessibility on Android” presentation at Google I/O. Developers were explained how to optimize their applications to take advantage of Android’s accessibility tools.
Did you know that Leap Day was also the 27th Annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference in Los Angeles? Sprint knew, and announced that it has launched a free app that provides easier access to the smartphones of blind or low-vision Android users. Dubbed “Wireless Accessibility“, the suite has been specifically designed by developers Code Factory for the blind or visually impaired, or for anyone who is having trouble using a smartphone due to physical or developmental disabilities.
This suite normally costs $99, but Sprint is now making it available for free in the Android Market. AT&T has a similar free version in the Market for a limited time called Mobile Accessibility Lite.
Mitch Pomerantz, president of the American Council of the Blind (ACB), said the following:
“Having the ability to gain greater access to information on smartphones through the use of a free suite of applications is a very positive development in the blind community’s quest for more affordable choices. The American Council of the Blind commends Sprint for its willingness to take another positive step toward full product accessibility.”
Full press release and a video of the app after the break.
Life for the blind is understandably difficult, but AT&T and Mobile Accessibility would like to make it a bit easier, at least when it comes to Android phones. The two companies have collaborated to make a version of Mobile Accessibility’s software available for AT&T Android devices, allowing the blind to use eleven apps on the phones: Phone, Contacts, SMS, Alarm, Calendar, Email, Web, Where Am I, Apps (I’m guessing they mean “app drawer”), Music Player and Settings.It does this by speaking whatever the user has their finger on, and also allows for voice to text input, at least on 2.2 and later phones. The software, Mobile Accessibility Lite, will be free on the Market or from the web for AT&T devices for a limited time, though no specific time period was given. Full presser and a video of the app in action after the break and additional information can be found here.
It looks like BlindType, the very error-tolerant keyboard, is coming to Android very soon. On their website, they said “Chances are, no matter what smartphone you have, you’ll be able to get your hands on BlindType very soon.”
This app really looks like it has some great potential. Are you planning on trying out BlindType when it comes out?
Tell us what you think in the comments!
Yep, just when you thought having a hardware keyboard was the only way to touch type, BlindType demos their new creation that intelligently shapes, re-sizes, and interprets your typing no matter how crazy according to the video below, and makes typing error-free simple! I really can’t even hope to describe how awesome this thing really is. The video explains that the software automatically learns your typing style. You can type with a static keyboard for looks, have a moving resizing keyboard to see what the software is interpreting, or just have the keyboard go away completely! I really like where this software is going, and personally I can’t wait to start trying it out!If you want to, you can either keep and eye here, or check out their website yourself here!
What do you think? Has your mind been blown? Let us know in the comments!
Thanks to our Tipsters who sent this in!