Enabling accessibility

Instructions for Android 4.0 and above

A video describing the out-of-box setup experience in Android 4.0 is available on YouTube here.

For devices running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above, Accessibility can be turned on from the initial set-up screen. After turning on your device for the first time, use your finger to draw a closed rectangle starting at the top-left corner of your device's touchscreen. Draw a straight line from the top-left corner to the top-right, then to the bottom-right, then bottom-left, and finally back to the top-left. Your device will beep when it recognizes your gesture. It may take several attempts to draw the rectangle within the screen bounds.

Once you have enabled Accessibility, your device will open a tutorial introducing the Accessibility features available in Android 4.0. You may skip the tutorial using the "Skip" button at the bottom-right of the screen.

Upon completion of the tutorial, your device will return to the initial set-up screen and you may finish setting up your device.

Instructions for Android 3.1 and below

By default, Accessiblity is turned off on new Android phones running Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) and below. If you have no vision, you will be unable to access a brand-new Android phone without sighted assistance. Once enabled, your phone will remember this setting and you'll be able to do everything else yourself.

If you have a brand-new Android phone, follow these steps to enable accessibility:

  1. If the phone is asking you for a Google Account or it's in the system tutorial mode, press the button to skip it and do it later.
  2. Press the Menu button. Every Android phone has a Menu button on the front, you shouldn't have to open the keyboard.
  3. Press Settings.
  4. Open Text-To-Speech settings (it might be inside "Voice input & output settings"). Click "Listen to an example". If it doesn't play, try clicking "Install voice data", below. You can also adjust the speech rate and language here.
  5. Go back to the main Settings screen and open Accessibility settings.
  6. Press the checkbox next to Accessibility. Say OK to the alert asking if you're sure you want to do this. If you have a T-Mobile G2, please refer to these special instructions.
  7. Press the checkbox next to TalkBack. Say OK to the alert.
  8. Also recommended: Press the checkbox next to KickBack. Say OK to the alert. KickBack provides haptic feedback using the phone's vibrational motor. It is especially useful when you need to occasionally use the touch screen. See Services for details.

In a few seconds, your phone will start talking when you press an arrow key. If you still need to set up your Google account, do this now via the About section of Settings.

Additional settings that may be useful to you are in the Sounds (or Sounds & Display) section of Settings. Here you can enable Haptic Feedback and Audible Selection. Both of those provide additional feedback when performing certain actions.

Instructions for phones without Accessibility services

Some phones, like the T-Mobile G2, do not come with accessibility services like TalkBack, KickBack, and SoundBack already installed. You will need to install them from the Market yourself. Again, if you have no vision, you will need sighted assistance for this part.

Once you press on the checkbox next to Accessibility in the Settings, the phone will display a warning entitled "No Accessibility Related Applications Found" and ask you if you want to install a screen reader from the Android Market. If you press OK, you will be prompted to log in with your Google Account or to create a new one. Once you log in or create an account, you will be able to access the Android Market and install a screen reader.

Quick Setup Instructions for Installing Commonly Used Accessibility Apps

IDEAL Apps4Android has released a set of Accessibility Installer apps for the various carriers. This installer guides the user through installing commonly used accessibility apps by automatically bringing up their install screens from Android Market. These apps include the entire Eyes-Free suite (Talkback, Kickback, Soundback, Accessibility Preferences, Eyes-Free Shell, Talking Dialer, Rock Lock, Walky Talky, Intersection Explorer), plus several useful 3rd party apps such as IDEAL Web Reader, IDEAL Magnifier, and K9 Mail.

Using one of these installers greatly simplifies the process of setting up Android for accessibility. Here is how to use this installer:

  1. Go to Android Market.
  2. Search for "accessibility installer".
  3. You should see several "Access 4 NAME_OF_CARRIER" apps. Pick the one that matches your carrier.
  4. Install and run the app.
  5. Follow the directions from the app. You will get several install screens; click on install/ok for all of these apps. You may get a few errors from Market since not all apps are available on all phones, but these errors can be safely ignored.

Please note that you will need sighted assistance for running the accessibility installer if you have no vision and Talkback has not already been installed and enabled on your device.