Setting up an Android phone for accessibility involves knowing where ports, physical controls, soft/virtual buttons, and other key features are located.
The Motorola Droid/Milestone is a slider phone. 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 chin. It is not part of the screen itself, but serves as a quick way to orient the device as it is being pulled out of a purse or pocket.
To become familiar with the phone’s physical features, do the following:
1. Position the device with the touchscreen facing you and the chin pointing down. This is standard portrait orientation.
2. Locate soft controls. 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 touched it or not. 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 Back, Menu, Home, and Search. It’s helpful to place stickers on the back of the phone at each button position to make locating them easy while learning to find them.
i. The back button moves focus to a previous screen (short press) or to the home screen (long press).
ii. The Menu button opens a page of application specific options, such as Call Log and Contacts when in the phone screen.
iii. The Home button moves focus to the Home/Launch screen (short press) and to a list of frequently used applications (long press).
iv. The Search button 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.
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. It and several variations are described below:
i. To unlock the phone, tap the Power button. The phone announces, "Screen on," and provides information about the ringer volume level. Place your finger on the left edge of the screen about an inch (2.5 cm) away from the bottom. Slide your finger to the right, drawing a 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," followed by ringer volume information.
ii. Swiping along that line from right to left while the screen is on and the phone is locked puts the phone in vibrate mode.
iii. The unlock gesture is also used to answer phone calls. Do not tap the Power button before swiping to answer.
d. The proximity sensor is in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. When accessibility is enabled, it interrupts 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 and the power button. The power button is easy to miss because it’s almost flush with the trim around the phone. To press, push a fingernail down into the back edge of the trim.
b. Along the right panel are the volume and camera buttons. Both are long, resembling hinges.
i. 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. Long pressing the camera button brings up the Camera Screen, which is not accessible, and short pressing the camera button takes a picture.
c. Along the bottom panel are no controls.
d. Along the left panel is the USB client port. This 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 and volume controls.
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 .25 inches (.6 cm) from the bottom. The cover is removed to replace the battery or micro SD card.
c. The speaker for media and the screen reader is a broad horizontal slit right below the battery cover. 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 chin to the right), then pushing back on the upper edge of the phone to slide the touchscreen out of the way.
a. The main area of the physical keyboard is the standard typing keyboard. It consists of 33 keys laid out in 3 rows of 11. The top row goes from Q to P and ends with backspace. The middle row goes from A to L and ends with question mark and enter. The bottom row starts with shift and Z and ends with comma, period, and shift. The F and J keys have nibs in the lower right-hand corner.
b. Below the typing keys is the spacebar row. Moving from left to right, the keys are alt, search, at, spacebar, slash, menu, and alt. Alt and shift can be used singly and in combination to type capital letters, numbers, punctuation, and special characters such as the dollar sign.
c. To the right of the typing keys is the directional pad (d-pad). It is a large square key used to arrow over the screen and activate buttons or items. Pressing on the left and right edges moves focus to left and right. Pressing on the top and bottom edges moves focus up and down. Pressing on the center of the key activates buttons and checks or unchecks boxes. If pressing on the center of the d-pad does not activate a control, then pressing the enter key on the typing keyboard should work.
While in use, the phone can be held vertically (in portrait orientation), with the chin at the bottom, as when a call is being made, or it can be held horizontally (in landscape orientation), with the chin 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.