Session Notes: Android Accessibility Walk Through

by Jeffrey Stark

June 23rd, 2016

Android Accessibility Walk Through

Presented By Jeffrey D. Stark

Workshop presented At the CCB Halifax Conference on Low Cost Solutions For People Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision


Vision & Android

Android supports features for Sight,  Sound, Physical & Cognitive Digital Inclusion for people with disabilities.  This session will cover vision related topics and features. 


The Basics

•tremendous amount of customisation available, 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::

The Devices 

•There are countless devices from the $50 remix mini to the BrailleNoteTouch.  From small screen smart phones to 20+ inch tablets.

•Some good starters:

–Samsung Galaxy S5, S6, S7, the Blackberry Priv, with a physical keypad, the Oneplus1, 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) –

Accessibility Features:

•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 idevices, but is scheduled for a major update this year.

–Exception: Mobile Accessibility Suite & Braille Notetakers

•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

Getting Started

•Hold 2 fingers slightly apart  on the screen for 10 seconds and Talkback will load

•Basic Concepts Of Android


▪Desktop / workspaces


▪Apps Drawer

▪Notification Area

–Quick Settings


Resource For AccesibleApps, Tutorials & Audio Walkthroughs


•Inclusive Android Community Site: Share your information, ideas, apps and tips with the community of people with disabilities who are Android users from across the world! Information To Promote Sight, Sound, Physical & Cognitive Digital Inclusion for people with disabilities Getting Started

•If you are just  starting out with android there are a ton of Guides to help you get started on Android

•Also a number of community members have recorded many
Audio Tips And Tutorials. In particular, if you are just starting out, the
demystifying Series Of Audio Tips From Sebastien, the walkthrough for using Google Now or OK Google From Warren the walkthrough of the initial setup on stock android plus factory resetting an old device from Quentin and the walkthrough on  Enabling Talkback On Samsung A3 from Alan are excellent audio tips for a new user. Apps Directory

•Collections of apps from polls:

Results Of The 2015 Favourite Accessible Android Assistant Software Poll

Results Of The December 2014 Favourite Accessible PodcatcherPoll

Results Of 2016 Poll – Favourite Accessible Android Email Client

Poll Results: Favourite Text To Speech Engine

•You could also find out what apps I have installed on my phone in the article: List Of App Recommendations For Blind And Partially SightedAndroidUsers

•maybe you are looking for something fun to do, you can check out the Accessible app directory's Game Section


Apps For Specific Disabilities, Limitations or types of barriers

•If you are looking for something to remove a specific barrier, a perfect tool or something made with a specific disability in mind, you could check out the following App Directory Sections:

Apps Designed Specifically For Blind And Low Vision Users

Apps Designed Specifically For Deaf And Hard Of Hearing Users

Apps Designed Specifically For Users With LD Or Cognitive Requirements

Apps Designed Specifically For Users With Physical or Dexterity Requirements




Screen Readers On Android

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

–ReadspeakVocalizer TTS


–Google TTS

Standard Apps

•Google Now

–Can be used as an assistant but really more intended for push notifications and telling you things before you ask – for everyth

•Google On-Tap

•Accessible Browsers: 



–Samsung Browser




–Aquamail– connect many mailboxes

•Dropbox / Googledrive/ onedrive

Some useful apps:

•Books & Audio

–@voice aloud reader

–Smart audiobook player

–Listen audiobook player

–cnibdirect to player app, file management

–goreadfor 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

•Social Media

–Tweetingsfor Twitter

–Standard Facebook app is accessible

Camera BsedApps

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

–TapTapC– object identification

More useful apps:

•Music:& Podcasts

–Music folder player

–Gone mad music player

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

–Podcast addict

–Antenna Pod

–CBC One – stream or download


–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,




•USB OTG Cable

•USB Keys with USB Micro Adapters

•External Keyboards


Other Resources 

Official Android Accessibility Help:

Directory Of Forums and mailing lists that cover Disability and Android

List Of App Recommendations For Blind And Partially Sighted Android Users


Questions and Answers

Contact Information:




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