• Daniyar Kylyzhov

Top most important Android features for the blind-opinion of blind experts

A modern mobile phone is an indispensable device for most people, regardless of their health status. But for people with disabilities – this is not just a convenient gadget, but a means of rehabilitation, which can be more useful than many traditional TSR.


Have you ever wondered what your smartphone gives you? These are not only instant calls and messages in messengers, but also fast Internet access, thousands of useful applications, photo, video, and audio recordings, as well as music, movies, weather forecasts, and social networks.


The modern phone is especially important for those who have sensory disorders, in particular the visually impaired and blind. It allows you to navigate the space, request help, place an order, and much more. Each smartphone has a built-in screen access program that literally allows you to control the device using voice, and also transmits all text information in voice form.


Today we will talk about the features of this program on smartphones running the Android operating system. As a rule, Android is installed on the most affordable and affordable devices.


How do I enable the screen access program?


On most Android smartphones, there are several ways to launch the screen access program. Each of them can be performed without the use of vision.


The most common way is to unlock your phone and hold down two volume buttons at the same time – "plus" and "minus". As soon as the device makes a characteristic sound of an incoming message, the "use quick power on"button will appear on the display. It will be approximately two fingers away from the bottom edge of the screen and one finger away from the right edge. Press it, then hold down both volume buttons again for 10 seconds. This should launch the screen access program.


However, it runs much easier on some smartphones. Find the "home" button, it is usually located at the bottom in the middle and can be either physical or sensory. Tap it three times.


The third method is also associated with the "home" button. If you hold it for 7 seconds, Google Assistant will open on some smartphone models. Tell him the standard phrase in your voice: "okay, Google." Then ask to enable the screen access program.


In smartphones running on the Android operating system, there can be two by default – TalkBack (on most devices) and VoiceOver (on Samsung smartphones and some others). Accordingly, the Google Assistant command will sound like this: "turn on the Talkback". Or so: "turn on voice over."


There is another way for phones manufactured by Samsung. On smartphones of this brand, you can hold down the power button for 5 seconds. This button is usually located on the right or left end of the device and is used to turn on and off the display and the phone itself. After 5 seconds, you will hear the sound of an incoming message. Then put two fingers on the screen about 2 cm below the speaker and hold them in this position for 7 seconds. At the same time, the fingers should be placed at a certain distance from each other – leave at least 1 cm between them.


How do I re-sound an incomprehensible phrase?


For sure, many blind and visually impaired smartphone users have encountered a situation when the screen access program or other application "mumbles" something inaudible and the person can not understand what it is about. In such cases, the phone may re-spell the text.


To do this, you need to use vertical swipes – so-called short finger movements on the screen up and down. If you use TalkBack with standard settings, you can use vertical swipes to select the desired level of detail – characters, words, lines, paragraphs. And horizontal swipes-to the right and to the left – you can move through the elements of the selected level.


For the VoiceOver screen access program, you only need vertical swipes, which can be used to immediately spell out the selected text.


How do I copy the last phrase to the clipboard?


Very often, smartphone users need to copy the last phrase in the text to the clipboard, for example, to send someone the phone number or address specified in the message. At the same time, there may be so many numbers and letters in it that it is better not to rely on memory.


The talkback screen access program has a context menu, which provides the function of transferring the necessary part of the text to the clipboard. To open the context menu, put your finger on this text and swipe it as if drawing a rectangle – down and to the right. Carefully study the menu that opens.


In addition to copying the last phrase of the text to the clipboard, you can also open TalkBack settings, speech synthesis settings, turn off the screen illumination, making the smartphone inaccessible to the sighted, and use a number of other useful options.


How can I improve the availability of a non-voiced app?


Any smartphone app that does not provide voice recognition for the blind or visually impaired can be partially voiced using the screen access program. To do this, open its settings and activate the "voice control IDs" option. After that, some of the control buttons in other apps will be voiced.


How do I set up text VoiceOver?


Some visually impaired and blind people with residual vision can use a smartphone without a screen access program but have problems reading text from the screen. For such users, there is a "voice on tap" function, which is included in the set of special features for Android from Google. When this function is activated, a mini-player will appear in the lower-right corner of the screen, which will accompany the user in most applications.


If you need to read something, just click on the mini-player, and then on the selected text. The smartphone will then voice it, after which the mini-player will disappear and turn back into a small icon in the lower right corner of the screen.


On some smartphones, the "voice on tap" feature may not be available in the accessibility settings. In this case, you can add it manually. Open the Play Store and use your voice or text to enter the "special features" query. Find the "Special features for Android" app from Google LLC – it will be the very first in the list. As soon as you install it, the "voice on tap" feature will appear in your phone's accessibility settings.


This feature is only available for the Android operating system version 6 and later.


How do I disable the screen access program?


If you need to switch your smartphone to the usual mode of operation for a sighted person (for example, to transfer someone to use it), you can disable the screen access program, and then, when necessary, re-enable it with a simple command.


You will need two buttons to change the volume - "plus" and "minus". Hold them both down for 5 seconds and the screen access program will turn off. You can turn it in the same way, or even easier – turn off and turn on the display again.


We thank the experts Of the Department of information and methodological resources of the Novosibirsk regional special library for the blind and visually impaired for a detailed digest on the use of smartphones.


Tags: #Smartphone #Android #Development

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