Contributed by Kenny Hitt
Setting up an Android phone for accessibility involves knowing where ports, physical controls, soft/virtual buttons, and other key features are located.
The T-Mobile G2 a slider phone with a unique z hinge design. Most of the front is taken up by the glass touchscreen. This is the part of the phone that faces the user when the device is being operated. Parallel to the upper edge of the touchscreen is a slit measuring 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. This is the telephone speaker, which rests near the user’s ear during a phone call. At the bottom of the touchscreen is a narrow area containing the trackpad, a round indentation used for scrolling.
To become familiar with the phone’s physical features, do the following:
1. Position the device with the touchscreen facing you and the trackpad toward the bottom. This is standard portrait orientation.
2. Locate controls on the front of the phone. When the phone is on and the screen is unlocked, a number of virtual or soft buttons are displayed, often in columns and rows. They’re visual images on the screen, not actual buttons you can feel, but they are activated by touch and are very sensitive, often responding to fingers that are too close to the screen, regardless of whether they’ve actually been touched. A few of these controls are routinely used.
a. Four important controls run along the bottom edge of every screen. From left to right, they are Home, Menu, Back, and Search. The trackpad, which is below them, and the bottom corners of the screen can be used to find them quickly.
i. The Home button, which is in the lower left corner of the screen, moves focus to the Home/Launch screen (short press) and to a list of frequently used applications (long press).
ii. The Menu button, which is to the left of the trackpad, opens a page of application specific options, such as Call Log and Contacts when in the phone screen.
iii. The optical trackpad is the indented round spot that is below the soft buttons and between Menu and Back. It is used to navigate the screen. Move your finger over the trackpad in the direction you want focus to move. For example, to scroll right, slide your finger across the trackpad from left to right, or to scroll down, slide your finger across the trackpad from top to bottom. To select the item with focus, press down on the trackpad.
iv. The back button, which is to the right of the trackpad, moves focus to a previous screen.
v. The Search button, which is in the bottom right corner of the screen, opens an edit window for users to type (short press) or speak (long press) words and phrases to be searched for on Google and on the device itself. It's also used to perform some phone commands by voice (Refer to the phone's user manual for more information on voice commands).
b. The status bar is at the top of the screen. To check for new Notifications, place a finger at the top edge of the screen and slide it down toward the bottom. Once accessibility is enabled, the phone announces, "Status bar," followed by a message like, "No notifications," or "Updates available." No other status-bar information is natively available through the touchscreen to users who cannot see it.
c. The unlock control is a horizontal gesture performed about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the lower edge of the touchscreen. Variations are used to unlock the phone and to put the ringer on silent.
i. To unlock the phone, tap the power button. Talkback announces, "Screen on" and speaks ringer volume information. Place your finger at the left edge of the screen just above the top of the USB client port. Quickly slide your finger to the right, drawing an imaginary horizontal line. The phone emits a short vibration as you begin and a longer vibration as you reach the right edge of the screen. Talkback announces, "phone unlocked."
ii. Swiping along the same line from right to left while the screen is on and the phone is locked puts the device into silent mode.
iii. The unlock gesture is also used to answer phone calls. To answer, do not press the power button before swiping to the right.
d. The proximity sensor is in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. When accessibility is enabled, it is used to interrupt the speech synthesizer. Simply wave a finger over that portion of the touchscreen to stop speech.
3. Locate physical buttons and connection points. Slide a finger around the top, right, bottom and left panels of the phone in a clockwise direction to identify the following:
a. Along the top panel are the earphone jack, a slot for opening the phone, and the power button.
b. Along the right edge are the camera and battery door release buttons. The camera button is on the edge of the touchscreen itself while the battery door release button is underneath it on the body of the phone.
i. Long pressing the camera button brings up the Camera Screen, which is not accessible, and short pressing the camera button takes a picture.
ii. Sliding the battery door release button toward the bottom edge of the screen opens the battery cover.
c. Along the bottom panel is a slot for opening the phone.
d. Along the left panel is the volume button and the USB client port.
i. The volume button is long, resembling a hinge. Pressing the upper end of the volume control increases sound level, and pressing the lower end of the volume control decreases sound level. Keep in mind that pressing the volume control while the phone is speaking or playing music adjusts the loudness of the screen reader or media stream, but pressing the volume control while the phone is silent adjusts the loudness of the ringer.
ii. The USB client port is used to connect the phone to anything else, a power source for recharging the battery or a computer host port for transferring files.
4. Explore the back of the phone. Run your finger down the back of the phone to locate the following items:
a. The camera view finder is at the top of the phone in the corner nearest the power control
b. The battery cover takes up most of the back of the phone. It starts about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) from the top and ends about an inch (2.5 cm) from the bottom. The cover is removed to replace the battery, SIM card or micro SD card.
c. The speaker for media and the screen reader is a broad horizontal slit next to the view finder and near the headphone jack. If you’re only listening to music, placing the phone face down points the speaker up for louder and clearer sound.
5. Find the physical typing keyboard by laying the phone on a table (touchscreen up and trackpad to the right); then with a finger on each of the slots of the top and bottom panels, lift and push back to move the touchscreen away from you, uncovering the keyboard.
a. The main area of the physical keyboard is the standard typing keyboard. It consists of 35 keys laid out in 3 rows. The top row contains at, Q to P, and ends with backspace. The middle row contains the .com/www key, A to L, and ends with enter. The bottom row starts with alt, menu, Z to M, and ends with question mark, Search, and alt. The F and J keys have nibs on the lower middle edges.
b. Below the typing keys is the spacebar row. Moving from left to right, the keys are shift, Quick Key 1, comma, spacebar, period, Quick Key 2, Quick Key 3, and shift.
c. Some additional information about the keyboard:
i. Alt and shift can be used singly and in combination to type capital letters, numbers, punctuation, and special characters such as the dollar sign and the underscore. To shift lock, alt lock, and shift+alt lock, press the respective key twice.
ii. The quick keys are used to set shortcuts to apps, contacts, bookmarks, or Settings Options (refer to the user’s manual for more information about the quick keys).
iii. On the G2, the physical keyboard can not be used to input information or respond to menu prompts during calls as keys do not produce the expected characters. A workaround is to hold down the shift key while using the physical keyboard. In most circumstances, double tapping the shift locks it, but while a call is in progress, the key must be held down.
While in use, the phone can be held vertically (in portrait orientation), with the trackpad at the bottom, as when a call is being made, or it can be held horizontally (in landscape orientation), with the trackpad to the right, as when the physical keyboard is being used. By default, the device is set to recognize whether it’s being used in portrait or landscape mode and adjusts the screen automatically. Blind and visually impaired users should disable Auto Rotate to prevent the screen from shifting erratically and to insure that important soft keys stay in one location.
For more information about the phone, refer to T-Mobile's comprehensive user's guide for the G2.