ui customisation for accessibility

Robert Michel openmoko at robertmichel.de
Wed Dec 6 13:55:34 CET 2006

Salve Matthew!

On Wed, 06 Dec 2006, Matthew Wood wrote:
> i've been intrigued by your announcements and would like to ask:  
> could an open platform like yours be used to provide a smartphone ui  
> that's more accessible to the visually impaired?

Of course that would be possible and I would like it very much,
that OpenMoko would become usable also for visually impaired,
even blind people.
I can imagine that this would work in 2007 on the Neo1973:

- audio output "one" when you press "one" instead of "beep"
- short vibra feedback with every screen touch
- SMS text to speech
- "Robert is calling" befor picking up the phone (e.g. press first
  to get the anouncement, press a second time to pic that call up"
- voice command: press a button and say "call robert"
> as more details about the platform emerge I'll be interested to see  
> how much ui customisation (text size, colours) 
As far as I know does black/yellow have the strongest singnal contrast
in nature so the buttons 1,3,5,7,9 could be black with yellow label,
2,3,6,8,0 yellow with black label.

Consider, that a touchscreen without a key drop is not the best
I thougth already if it will be possible to put a foil over the
touchscreen and experiment with some feelable spikes/dots to mark
center of a visual button, make a fence arround the buttons or
a combination - that you could read here is the 1, there the 2...

But I agree, OpenMoko/Neo1973 have a high potential to find solution
for visually impaired user. We talked already about the feature when
giving the Neo1973 to a friend/other person, that OpenMoko/Neo1973 would
have some different GUI style the guest could choose - so an visualy 
impaired mode and a modus for blind use would be fine to have inside
a standard OpenMoko installation.

And I beleave that developing for and together with handycapped 
people will inspire us - e.g. my wish to use multi-touch for
text input without the need to see on a virtual keyboard to place
my touch at the rigth position is influenced by the idea:
"imagine you would be blind - how would you like to interact
with the Neo1973" (Imagine your screen and touchpad is broken,
how could you still use your Neo1973 for major task (dailing...)?"

Also "imagine you would be visually impaired - how would you like
to interact with your Neo1973" could bring us ideas how to make 
OpenMoko/Neo1973 more usable - for everybody.

Compare our bazaar with the cathedral:
   AFAIK does Siemens mobile have had a "playing team" - the task
   of this team was to play all day long and find new ideas for the
   phones. I heard about this team and that the humman resources
   manager choosen the best diploma holder - with the best notes
   and those how studied in the shortest time. Just a homogenous
   group - noone who had done own projects, hacks  - made own ideas
   working - during his study and also no handicapped person in the
   team who would said: "hey this keys are to small" and no elder
   engineer, with the experiances of telex machines or the first PC
   ... how could be such a homogenous group be creative?

So thank you for you mail and your interest that OpenMoko/Neo1973
would become usable for visually impaired people.

Are you impaired yourself? Or does you work with impaired people?
Will you like to join OpenMoko development? Don't wory when you would
haven't no or not good programming skills (I haven't good skills myself)
charing ideas - giving feedback from the point of an impaired person
would be helpfull and I would like to read such feedback very much ;)

> will be available 'out  
> of the box,' or whether it's feasible to reskin the included  
> messaging apps to make them accessible...?

I'm just a student, not involved into the hardware or OpenMoko SDK
development - but I would guess that the first phones for us developer
woudn't have impared support out of the box - but I beleave that
OpenMoko will have such a support quite soon.
Especialy when some developers with personal interest will start
to hack it in the way they like.

So to motivate some people playing with GUI and fonts, could you
give us some feedback what you hate/dislike on normal phones and
what you would wish a phone with the Neo1973 hardware 
(480x640 2,6" touchscreen, two buttons, GSM/GPRS, AGPS)
should be like.... ?

Sorry, when I have no direct answer for you about the GUI,
but I hope that my mail will motivate you to chare some of
your ideas with us and that you will like to wait for the shipping
of the first OpenMoko/Neo1973, too. ;))


AGPS + blind people - It will not be accurate enough to say "walk 1m
more on the left side" but it could assist with special informations
"crossing 10m ahead  you could use the subway stepps to pass it
save. Subway stepps starts 5m ahead with 4m distance to the buildings"

"Welcome at the trainstation. Say yes and I will call you a personal
assistance/guide"  "YES" "Ok.."
(Just a database with servicenumbers of trainstaions
and prepared voicemessages like "||:hello I'm blind and need a assistand
press "1" when you are the right person to give my coordinates now :||
Hello standing now inside the istation 4m before the main entrance on 
the right side before the florist and have a brow jacket. Could you
come now?" and then connect the called one to the caller.

The hard/software of OpenMoko/Neo1973 could become some support for
"hearing device"?

And much much more ;)

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