By Curtis Chong
On March 2, Code Factory, a well-known provider of software to make mobile phones for blind mobile phone users nonvisually accessible, announced Mobile Accessibility, a program that offers nonvisual access to mobile phones running the Android operating system.
According to the official press release, “Mobile Accessibility supports all Android phones from version 2.1 and above.”
Mobile Accessibility actually consists of two products: a suite of 10 built-in nonvisually accessible applications and a screen-reading program, which is supposed to allow the Android user to leave the suite of built-in applications and operate the standard interface of any Android phone as long as the phones is equipped with physical navigational controls, such as a trackball or trackpad.
Using the Mobile Accessibility suite of nonvisually accessible applications, the Android phone user is said to be able to accomplish the following tasks:
- Make and receive phone calls, know who is calling, and manage the call log;
- Manage contacts, even those from social networks such as Facebook;
- Send and receive text messages and manage text message conversations;
- Manage alarms;
- Browse the Internet using a nonvisually friendly Web browser;
- Manage a calendar, including adding, editing and deleting calendar entries and managing appointments;
- Send and receive e-mail;
- Find out one’s location using GPS technology;
- Modify phone settings, such as ringtones, switching between audio or vibration modes, setting the level of keyboard echo, controlling how much punctuation is spoken, and adjusting the pitch and speaking rate of speech output; and
- Obtain quick access to date and time information and other phone status data such as battery level, network coverage, number of missed calls and unread messages, etc.
If the announcement from Code Factory is accurate (I have no reason to believe otherwise), then the implications for blind mobile phone users is enormous!
Mobile phones running Android 2.1 and higher are available from just about every cell phone provider in the United States. I checked the websites of Sprint. U.S. Cellular, AT&T and Verizon, and on every one of these sites, Android phones were available for sale. Moreover, the price of Mobile Access seems quite reasonable. Mobile Accessibility is available for purchase through the Android Market at the price of 69 EUROS (approximately $95 U.S.), and a 30-day trial is also available for download.
Complete information about Mobile Accessibility is available from the Code Factory website at http://www.codefactory.es/en/products.asp?id=415.