Assistive Technology Apps for Android

Image from Android.com

If you’ve read any of our past blog posts, you know we are crazy about Apple products and the assistive technology and accessibility services that comes with them. But, we also know that not every person on the face of the Earth is as ecstatic about them as we are. So, today I’m blogging about accessibility services that are included in Android products.

TalkBack is an accessibility service provided by Google with their Android products. It comes pre-installed on most Android phones. This feature is synthesized to speech to describe the results of actions like moving to a new button or clicking a new control on the directional pad. It also says events out loud, like a new voicemail or incoming phone call.

Spiel is a third-party accessibility service that is an alternative to TalkBack. Like TalkBack, it also uses synthesized speech to describe action and events. However, it has its own set of rules for speaking that are a bit different than TalkBack. Spiel is not available on the Android market and must be installed separately. You can have both TalkBack and Spiel installed at the same time on your phone and can choose which one you want to enable. Both act in a very similar way; each feature is developing separately.

Kickback is another official accessibility service that is provided by Google on Android phones. This feature provides haptic feedback when you perform an action on the phone. For example, the vibrations tell the users when their fingers are on the slid-to-unlock handle.  Another example of  how this is useful is when you are navigating the menu screen, you will feel a bump every time you hit a new item.

SoundBack is another official accessibility service provided by Google. It plays a short sound when you perform an action on the phone to let the user know that is has been completed. For example, when eh user moves to a different control using the directional controller, SoundBack will play short sound.

TTS Extended is a new application that includes text-to-speech capabilities. It is included in the Android 2.2, so if you have this version you do not need to install anything. If you have an Android phone that is 2.1 version or earlier, you will need to download this app. You can do so here.