The web-site is now in readonly mode. Login and registration are disabled. (28 June 2019)

Workshop E: Mobile phones: too smart by half?

Chair: John Lamb, Ability Magazine; Kiran Kaja, RNIB Digital Accessibility Team; Robin...

Cloud created by:

Nick Freear
20 July 2010

One of 3 parallel sessions D-F, 14:00-15:00.

Extra content


Mobile phones, Robin Spinks, RNIB

(And, Kiran Kaja, RNIB)

(I arrived 5-10 minutes late.)

iPhone 3G S - accessibility menu, change font-size globally/ magnify.
* not perfect, but excellent!

* Twitterlator Pro - accessible Twitter client

Symbian - not much progress.
Android - not great yet. Not global settings.
Blackberry - significant improvement in latest version.
Windows Mobile - wasn't offering the level of customization, when last inspected.


3rd category devices - iPad - "revolutionary" according to Steve Jobs. And revolutionary for Robin Spinks!
* Great font size.
* Same app as on the iPhone.

Facebook on desktop is cluttered.
* Better as iPad application.

iPad - lots of apps. Made a huge difference as partially sighted person.
* Keynot app.

Apple - walled-garden approach. Happy consequence for accessibility (?)

Dell Streak tablet - Android.

Kiran Kaja, RNIB

Note, these notes are borrow a lot from Kiran's slides.

(For interest, Slide footer in English & Welsh - RNIB)
Speech Access to Mobile Phones: Past, Present and Future
* Mobile access., particularly speech access.

* Early mobile phones were closed systems - 1998/2000.
* No opportunity for developing 3rd-party applications
* Specialised accessible mobile phones (like the Owasys 22C)

Nokia 3310 ?
* Different ring-tones for different contacts.
* Wistyle - speak the contact's name.

* "Talks" was the first full-fledged screen reader on Symbian (series 60) - OS made popular by Nokia.
* Later access. for Windows Mobile.

Now/ current state of affairs
* Symbian continues to be popular with Talks and Mobile Speak.
* iPhone with VoiceOver - iPhone 3GS. Built-in, not separate.
* Oratio for Blackberry smart phones.
* Android accessibility apps. - initially T V Ramen - developed "Eyesfree shell" ("3"?)
- Speaking dialer, compass, etc.
- Now Talkback (screen reader), Kickback (haptic feedback, vibrations), Soundback (audio cues)
- So there are tools, but problems of integration, standard framework, distribution

iPhone: the game changer
* Includes VoiceOver, complete access. to features.
* No keyboard, so uses finger-gestures - swipe, double-click, slide etc.
* "I can't use a touch-screen" - Changes people's perspective.
* Apple's strict standards for UI design.

Changed expectations - why should we pay extra?

Universal Access vs. 3rd-party Solutions
* 3rd-party solutions address the access gap currently.
* Built-in is more stable.
(3rd party, eg. screen reader, is always a "doctored" solution.)

iPhone Dasher app. - character input, Uni. of Cambridge.

* Same level of access as sighted users, and at the same time.
* Easy for 3rd party app. developers to test for compatibily with a built-in access. framework.
* Access features also used by mainstream sighted users.
(Eg. Nokia, Blackberry-reads first 30 chars of email.)

iPhone - iMagnify, portable magnifier!
* Daisy players

In the future
* Better voice recognition
* Haptic feedback
* Hand gestures - Windows 7 Mobile rumoured to have some.
* Facial recognition
* Accessible GPS navigation, maps, Google Maps.
* New input techniques (motion sensors, accelerometer, gyroscope)
- Originally for game developers; Cambridge Uni.

* iPhone learning curve is steep - Kiran is doing survey,
* Always remember disabled users,
* Designing intuitive UIs for complicated problems,
* Inform disabled users - phone stores won't know what an "accessible phone" is,
* Need for global legislation - USA section 255.

Point - (who?) - I'm a Nokia 60, in a transition period, challenging. Conversion to "Apple think" :)
Cost, big big learning curve. Chance of a generation of mobile users being dis-enfranchfised.

Robin - Vodaphone, with server-based screen reader (!), lower price.

Nick Freear
10:52 on 20 July 2010

Embedded Content


Contribute to the discussion

Please log in to post a comment. Register here if you haven't signed up yet.