Mobile Accessibility

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on mobile devices for productivity in their work and personal lives, it is increasingly important that we look at the accessibility of the device itself as well as how publicly available digital content works with mobile accessibility features. At this year’s ATIA Conference in Orlando Florida Kathy Wahlbin, CEO and Founder of Interactive Accessibility, tackles this subject in her iOS Accessibility Workshop.

We recently posted some videos on the Access Matters blog about setting up and using TalkBack, which is the pre-installed screen reader service provided by Google for Android devices. It occurred to me that there must be some good walkthroughs for iOS accessibility, so I decided to go on a YouTube hunt for you, our loyal Access Matter Blog readers, and find the best iOS Accessibility walkthroughs.

A new fully accessible app created for the android operating system called Text Detective reads text from a page out loud. By pointing the phone’s camera at text the user can hear it read aloud as well as edit, copy and paste the text into documents, emails or other apps. The Detective works best with clean and crisp text and can help a user read mail, menus, cards, product packages, medication labels and other print.

The app, which has great implications for individuals who are blind, was created by Blindsight and supported in part by SBIR grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is available for $1.99 on Google play.

The advanced writing and reading assistive technology for people with dyslexia and dysgraphia, Ghotit Real Writer & Reader, had just released their version 3 for Android 4. The new release targets tablets but works with smartphones as well. The company has more improvements planned for smartphones.

Unlike other vendors, Ghotit has ported the software in full. Therefore, the Android version has all the features of and works similar to the original Mac and Windows version and features Android sharing.  The new release requires Android version 4 with 1 GB of RAM or more.

The Do Good Mission is one of eight Nokia Create contests that encourages the development of apps for Windows Phone 8 and Nokia Lumia devices. Highlighted on the Microsoft Accessibility Blog is the contest that calls for the creation of apps that will enhance the lives and mobile experience of people with vision related disabilities.

Studies indicate that karate can help improve posture and ambulatory condition, confidence and strength for people with disabilities. Stokes Mandeville Stadium in the UK has partnered with the Disability Karate Federation to bring the martial art to the community through a new project called KickStart 100.

The Disability Karate Federation is offering the initial three months of karate classes for only 15 pounds. The classes will be held at the Stoke Mandeville Stadium in November.

Research conducted in 2012 indicated significant changes in the white matter of the brain in karate practitioners leading to understanding the role of white matter connectivity as it relates to motor coordination and how the brain changes may relate to the development stage in which learning begins.

More information on karate for people with disabilities can be found on the Stoke Mandeville Stadium website.

By the end of this week a new app that helps people with hearing disabilities book cabs more easily and enhance their communication with drivers will be released on Windows phones. It took 12 months for Dubai Taxi Corporation, Microsoft and the Community Development Authority (CDA) to develop this free tool. Users will now have the ability to order taxis, track their trip, calculate their fair and talk to the drivers using pre-programmed voice commands.

Mobile Accessibility is a new frontier in the battle for accessibility supremacy. In a post on the Windows Phone Blog the third Windows Phone 8 Update was announced. Among the changes in this update like support for bigger, higher-resolution screens, Driving Mode and improved Internet sharing, were new accessibility features. The announcement did not give great detail but said that a suite of apps would make the phone easier to see, hear and use. The apps which include a screen reader, make it easier for blind and vision impaired users to:

  • Manage calls and contacts
  • Send texts and emails
  • Browse the web
  • Make Skype and Lync calls
  • Hear notification like alarms, calendar events and low battery warnings.
With the release of iOS 7, Apple has added many new accessibility features that make an iPhone and iPad easier to use for people with disabilities. This post summarizes the new iOS 7 accessibility features for people with visual, hearing, mobility and learning disabilities.

The FCC’s Accessibility Clearinghouse was created as part of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. Its purpose is to be a useful, reliable and reusable resource for people looking for accessibility solutions to provide full access to our nation’s communication revolution. The website provides a wide range of data including accessibility features of mobile phones and contact information for telecommunication service providers and equipment manufacturers. An application programming interface (API) has also been created that allows free and easy access to all of the data available through the Clearinghouse.

As a companion to the Clearinghouse API the FCC has also created a software development kit (SDK) to promote ease of access and use of the API. The SDK was developed in the Python programming language due to its popularity and versatility.  The SDK can be found on the FCC’s GitHub Page.


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