Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about what accessible Android phones can do:
- Which Android phones are accessible? See Choosing a Phone.
- Are there commands to read the whole screen or spell text one character at a time? Currently, no.
- Is Email accessible? The Gmail app is accessible, and the Email app is accessible as of Android 4.0. In previous versions, the built-in email app is not accessible, but there's an accessible email app you can download. See Apps.
- Is the web browser accessible? Yes, as of Android 4.0. In previous versions, the built-in web browser is not accessible, but there's an accessible web browser you can download. See Apps.
- Is Android available in multiple languages? Yes, the system already works in many languages, you can change it in the Settings. Each speech engine has support for a different set of languages for text-to-speech as well, but they're controlled independently of the system language.
- Is Android accessible if I don't have a physical keyboard? Yes, as of Android 4.0. Previous versions can be made mostly accessible by installing and using the Eyes-Free Keyboard's virtual directional pad and talking keyboard, but some things (like menus and alert dialogs) will still be quite difficult or impossible to access.
- What about low-vision users? There are some partial solutions, but Android does not have what is commonly known as a screen zoomer. Android 4.0 adds universal support for large font sizes.
- Does Android support braille? Not yet.
Questions about how to use Android accessibility:
- How can I make it stop talking? TalkBack uses the proximity sensor as a way to halt speech. Wave your hand slowly over the top of the phone, where you'd put your ear if you were on a phone call. It takes some practice to figure out the exact gesture for your phone, but once you learn it, it's easy and reliable.
- How can I safely restart TalkBack or Spiel without losing the ability to enable it again? Don't turn off Accessibility; when you turn it back on, it may not start TalkBack. Instead, turn off TalkBack and then click the screen in the same place turn it on again. Alternatively, you can reboot your device (turn it off and then on again). Your accessibility services will automatically start again.
- How do I get my contacts onto the phone? Android automatically syncs with your Google contacts. If you already use Gmail, you use Google contacts. If not, you can easily import your address book from Outlook, Thunderbird, and many other email programs into Gmail.
- How do I check the date, time, and battery status? The battery status is available in Settings under About Phone. All of these are also available from the Eyes-Free Shell, or you can download many other apps for status information.
If you have questions, the best resource is to join and post messages to the eyes-free mailing list.