October 4, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
The touchscreen smartphone revolution has enhanced practically every aspect of our lives, but it has left some people behind. AT&T has released a new application designed to bring the visually-impaired into the fold and make Android smartphones more accessible.
TalkAndroid spotted an announcement on the AT&T Mobile Accessibility Lite, a new set of tools that make it easier for AT&T customers who are blind or have low vision to use common smartphone functions. To address the difficulty some users face on touchscreen devices, Mobile Accessibility Lite (MAL) is a launcher and app suite that voice-guides the user.
Someone can tap an area of the screen and the MAL text-to-speech function will read aloud “Phone.” If that’s not what the user was looking for, he can move to another section and hear one of the 10 other functions available – Contacts, SMS, Alarm, Calendar, Email, Web, Where Am I, Apps, Music Player, and Settings.
All of the apps support Nuance Vocalizer that reads text to the user. This enables the visually-impaired to access major Android functions even if they cannot see. This is an important feature for both consumers and professionals who need “equal access to the same products and services as the sighted. Smartphone technology is increasingly critical to full participation in modern life,” according to Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.
For a limited time, AT&T customers can download Mobile Accessibility Lite from the Android Market for free. Android 2.1 or higher phone is necessary to use the app, and Android 2.2 or higher is required for speech recognition.