Contributed by Kenny Hitt
The UI customization for this phone disrupts a number of accessibility features. It is not the ideal device for blind and visually impaired users, but since carriers often support only one or two handsets with physical keyboards, it may be the only Android option available to some users.
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 myTouch 3g Slide 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 handset, below the touchscreen is a narrow chin with four physical controls and the optical trackpad. The chin 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 controls on the front of the phone.
a. Identify 3 soft buttons. 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 you’ve actually touched it or not. Three controls run along the bottom edge of the screen just above the physical buttons. Only one of these is routinely used. From left to right, they are:
i. Phone, located above the leftmost physical button, accesses the stock dialing screen. It appears when a call is in progress and when the phone is unlocked.
ii. All Programs, located above the recessed trackpad, accesses a list of all the applications on the phone. It is only available from the Home screen.
iii. My Faves, located above the rightmost physical button, accesses a list of frequently used phone numbers, which are part of the T-Mobile calling plan. It is only available from the Home screen and is not at all accessible to screen reader users.
b. Identify 5 physical controls. From left to right, they are:
i. Home button moves focus to the Home/Launch screen (short press) and to a list of recently used applications (long press).
ii. Menu button opens a page of application specific options, such as Settings and Notifications when in the home screen.
iii. The optical trackpad is the indented round spot between Menu and Back. It is used to unlock the phone and to navigate around 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. To select the item with focus, press down on the trackpad.
iv. Back button moves focus to a previous screen (short press or to the stock Home screen (long press).
v. Genius Button (long press) opens T-mobile's voice controlled software. A short press of the Genius button does nothing.
c. 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.” A list of the last 6 apps opened also appears in the status bar. It is the same list that results from a long press of the Home button. You can use the trackpad to enter an app from the list. No other status-bar information is natively available through the touchscreen to users who cannot see it.
d. The unlock control is performed with the trackpad in either of two ways:
i. Press the trackpad. Place your finger 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the lower edge of the touch screen; then swipe vertically toward the trackpad. If you are successful, the phone announces, “phone unlocked,” followed by other information.
ii. Press the trackpad; then quickly press the menu button. If you are successful, the phone announces, “phone unlocked,” followed by other information.
e. To answer phone calls while the screen is locked, place your finger 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the trackpad and slide down.
f. To send calls to voicemail while the screen is locked, place your finger 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the trackpad and slide up, drawing a short vertical line.
g. The proximity sensor is in the upper right-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 other 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.
b. Along the right panel is the camera button. Long pressing the camera button brings up the Cam Corder Screen, which is not accessible, and short pressing the camera button does nothing.
c. Along the bottom 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.
d. Along the left panel is the volume control. 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.
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 center.
b. The battery cover is the back of the phone. 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 vertical area next to the view finder and near the power button. 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 lower edge of the phone to slide the touchscreen up andout of the way.
a. The top 3 rows of the physical keyboard consist of 33 standard typing keys with a few additions. The top row (from left to right) contains Home followed byQ to P and ends with backspace. The middle row contains tab followed by A to L and ends with enter. The third row starts with shift and Z and ends with question mark and shift. The F and J keys have nibs in the lower leftt-hand corner.
b. Below the typing keys is the spacebar row, which consists of 10 additional keys. Moving from left to right, the keys are alt, menu, search, comma, spacebar, period, at, char, back, 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. The char key opens a dialog of symbols not found on the keyboard. This dialog is not currently available to the screen reader.
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.