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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

How do I make my phone start talking again?

New users and forgetful old hands are sometimes puzzled by their devices' failure to speak. Likely causes are (1) that the screen is locked, (2) that the phone is on silent, (3) that Talkback needs focus, and (4) that the phone needs to be reset. All are easy to resolve.

Unlocking the Screen

Android phones are designed to be operated via the touch screen. When a user is interacting with the device, the screen is on and the phone is unlocked so the touch screen can respond to being touched, tapped, and stroked. However, when a device is being slipped into a purse or pocket, this level of responsiveness is not desirable so the screen must be turned off, locking the phone against accidental use.

To wake the phone up so that it can be used, do the following:

1. Place the phone in portrait orientation. (This step is not necessary. It simply makes the process easier to describe.)
2. Give the power button a short press or slide the keyboard out or in. If Talkback is enabled, it announces the time, says, "Screen on," and provides additional information about the ringer volume level.
3. Place a finger on the left edge of the touch screen, 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the bottom.
4. Slide that finger to the right edge of the screen, drawing a horizontal line. The phone emits a short vibrational burst as you start moving from the left edge of the screen and a long vibrational burst as you reach the right edge. If Talkback is enabled, it announces, "Phone unlocked."

Exiting Silent or Vibrate Mode

Like other cell phones, Android devices have a convenient command for going into a mode that prevents disruptive ringing at school, work, church, and other places. An occasional problem is that the command is so convenient users may find themselves in silent mode by accident. This can be unsettling as silent mode can also mean no speech.

To exit silent or vibrate mode, do the following:

1. Unlock the screen if necessary.
2. Do something that ordinarily makes the phone speak: slide the keyboard out or in; navigate around the screen; enter into an app and back out of it.
3. While the phone should be speaking, press the volume up button. Remember voice volume goes up or down only when the volume controls are pressed while the phone is speaking. Remember too that you may not hear speech if your fingers are over the proximity sensor, often located at the top of the phone (portrait orientation), where your ear or cheek presses against the handset during a phone call.
4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3 until you hear speech.

Regaining Focus

Sometimes Talkback just doesn’t speak when it should. In these cases, do any of the following:

1. Silence most often happens when focus is on an inaccessible screen or in a section of the screen with images or text that is not available to the screen reader. You may
a. Scroll around to move past the inaccessible portion of the screen.
b. Press the Back button to return to the previous screen.
c. Press the selector to reach the next screen. Sometimes introductory screens are all or largely image based, but the rest of the app is fairly accessible.
2. Silence sometimes happens when nothing is in focus. This is most likely the case when screens known to be accessible are silent. Place a finger near one corner of the screen and slide it diagonally to the opposite corner; at the same time, do what you normally do to scroll (i.e., press repeatedly on the arrow keys, roll the trackball, or swipe across the trackpad). When focus is regained, the phone vibrates and begins speaking.
3. Silence can happen when fingers come too close to the proximity sensor.
a. New users often inadvertently touch the lower edge of the screen (landscape orientation) while locating the keyboard, positioning their hands on the keys, or identifying a character on the top row. It isn’t necessary to actually make contact with the touch screen. Coming to within a quarter inch (.5 cm) of its surface may be enough to activate a control. To avoid triggering the proximity sensor, approach the keyboard from the edge typically associated with the spacebar on a standard keyboard, and when working with the top row of keys, keep your fingers closer to the lower half of the keys.
b. Even experienced users sometimes place an idle hand close to the side of the phone while using the navigational control. Sometimes the hand is close enough to the proximity sensor to trip it. To avoid this, lay your idle hand flat on the table or in your lap and try to keep it at least half an inch (1.5 cm) away from the handset.

Resetting the Phone

Occasionally, the phone doesn’t quite respond the way it should. Command sequences don’t play out, and the screen reader isn’t acting in the usual way. Such problems are corrected simply by resetting the phone.

To reset the phone, simply do the following:

1. Turn the phone off using these steps :
a. Long press the Power button.
b. Navigate to Power Off, and press the selector.
c. Press the selector a second time to activate and confirm that option.
2. Wait 2 or 3 minutes.
3. Turn the phone on again by long pressing the Power button.

For information on other routine cell phone tasks, refer to the next post.

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