Notes From Session I Gave – Overview Of Android For Blind and Low Vision Usedrs

by Jeffrey Stark

May 7th, 2016

Jeff spoke about setting up an android device.  He talked about the tremendous amount of customisation available  and how you can customize your device and make many different changes.  For example, You can disable lock screen and you can change the home screen.  There are choices for Text to Speech.  The way you interact with an android device’s screen reader and magnification gestures are similar but not exactly the same as iphones.  i.e. in android talkback, you use 2 fingers to scroll pages/lists instead of 3 fingers to scroll.  All gestures and keyboard commands can be changed if you prefer or need access to specific commands.  See the following audio tutorial for an example of a usage for this and how to do it::



When asked about good phones to start with

Jeff mentioned a variety of android devices:  Samsung Galaxy S5, S6, S7, the Blackberry Priv, with a physical keypad, the Oneplus 1, the Motorola MotoX.  These phones have different shapes, sizes, expandability (i.e. SD card slots) or physical buttons/keypads.  The Doro phone is offered by bell for $49 and contains physical keys and an interface for those wishing a simpler phone (who might at some later point want to explore android more fully later) –


  • Screen Magnification support is great on android
  • Screen reader is on par with other OS(s) 
  • Braille support on android devices is not as good as on i devices, but is scheduled for a major update this year.
  • Phones that run a specific version of Android called CyanogenMod (i.e. the OnePlus 1 that Jeff uses) support much more customisation such as custom themes to enable a fully high contrast black experience for low vision users without the need to invert the screen colors of other items like photos of people or videos

Accessible Browsers: 
– Chrome
– Firefox

– Samsung Browser


Several choices of Screen readers:

  • Mobile Accessibility

    • Provided free for bell customers
    • Better braille support than currently offered natively on android (on par with iOS)
  • Talkback (by Google)
  • Shine Plus
  • Samsung Voice Assist
  • Text To Speech Engines are installed in the Operating System and are useable everywhere in all apps without having to purchase for each app.  Lots of voices and text to speech engines available:

    • Eloquence TTS
    • Acapella TTS
    • Samsung TTS
    • Readspeak Vocalizer TTS
    • Ivona TTS
    • Google TTS

Some useful apps:

Aquamail – connect many mailboxes

Total Commander – file system navigation like Windows Explorer

Dropbox / Googledrive / onedrive

@voice aloud reader

Smart audiobook player – file of audio books, stop, sleep timerfree or paid options

Listen audiobook player

– cnib direct to player app, file management

– goread for bookshare

– voice dream available but not as needed on Android because of it’s open system – many other apps that do the same thing as voice dream  – i.e. pdf to speech pro, voice aloud reader and go read


Music folder player

Gone mad music player

Google play music (subscription – like apple music/songza/spotify


Total commander – file management like windows explorer and can Access windows – shared drive

GPS, blindness specific apps:

  • Nearby Explorer has both a free and paid version,
  • Notnav
  • Getthere


KNFB Reader delivers good OCR results to take a picture and read out text

TapTapC – object identification

Podcast addict

CBC One – stream or download

Tweetings for Twitter

Standard Facebook app is accessible



List Of App Recommendations For Blind And Partially Sighted Android Users


Android Hardware:  claria

A Nexus 5 phone modified with both a hardware overlay and customized

software including basic functionality, such as phone and email applications,

as well as blindness-specific applications like GPS and a DAISY reader



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