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12 Designing Mobile Applications For All: Accessible Contact Manager
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12 Designing Mobile Applications For All: Accessible Contact Manager


Mobile phones are becoming increasingly popular and are already the first access technology to information and communication. As these devices are improving with faster processors, better operating …

Mobile phones are becoming increasingly popular and are already the first access technology to information and communication. As these devices are improving with faster processors, better operating systems and other features, they are integrating more technologies and applications, such as e-mail, media player, camera, instant messenger, access to Internet, social networks, etc. However, accessibility has not been part of most of the application and system designs on these platforms. Users are reporting barriers and problems in their access and usage of the mobile devices. This situation is even more critical for the most common mobile phone applications, such as a phone dialler and contact manager or a messengering application, because they allow accessing the core and most fundamental functionality of the mobile devices. To integrate accessibility in mobile devices, it should start focusing on the main and most used applications. In this paper we present a phone dialler and contact manager application that is designed to be used by all users with disabilities. A special emphasis has been placed on users with cognitive impairments and with learning disabilities because they are usually not considered in the application designs. There are several accessibility design principles that are usually taken into account when designing accessible applications; good colour contrast, adjustable font size, search fields, limit the depth of the menus, etc. However there are two basic features that do not receive the same attention and that are basic for users with disabilities, and especially for cognitive impairment users and the elderly: personalization and multimodality. Personalization allows accommodating the application to the differences between individuals. In the case of a phone dialler and contact manager, it does not make sense to offer a user that due to his/her impairment uses the mobile device only to make calls, options of sending SMS/MMS/e-mails messages or even visiting the web site of the selected contact. Very often there are several options that users never utilise but create a lot of confusion to them. If the options that are displayed to the users are configurable, the application can be fully adapted to the user needs and be simplified to match their preferences. It can even give a user with severe cognitive impairment the only option of making a call when a contact is selected. Another basic aspect for developing accessible applications is to provide equivalent alternatives. Contact managers of conventional mobile phones usually provide the possibility of adding images to each contact as an alternative of the textual information of the contact’s name. For cognitive impairment users it would be very useful to include a second alternative via voice information. This way, when a contact is selected the application will reproduce a specific sound that could be the recorded voice of the selected contact (e.g. saying “Hi, do you want to call me”). With this approach users with cognitive impairment perceive the information of the contacts through three different and complementary ways: text, photos and voices, facilitating the users to recognize each contact with minor efforts.

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  • 1. Jon Azpiroz Vodafone Spain Foundation Spain Designing Mobile Applications for All: Accessible Contact Manager
  • 2.
    • Accessibility for mobile devices is still way behind compared to desktop computers
    • Difficulties integrating accessibility in a very fragmented market
    • Few and expensive solutions available
    • Time urgency: Increasing number of mobile applications ( Apple App Store: Over 100,000,000 downloads in just 60 days )
    Motivation, Problem area
  • 3.
    • Identify the barriers in the use of mainstream ICT applications
    • Identify the specific Restrictions of mobile devices
    Research Objectives
  • 4. Research Approach, Methodology Identify the barriers in the use of mainstream ICTs Specific Mobile restrictions Design guidelines for accessible mobile applications Example application: Contact Manager Validation and Refinement
  • 5.
    • Barriers for:
      • Visual impairment users :
        • Screen readers and/or screen magnifiers incompatibility with dynamic or graphical apps
        • Not emotional voices
        • Lack of sufficient contrast
      • Motor impairment users :
        • Not able to use keyboards and/or mouse
        • Difficulty to work with dynamic interfaces
        • Poor quality of voice recognition
    Barriers of mainstream ICTs
  • 6.
    • Barriers for:
      • Cognitive impairment users :
        • Need for constant adaptation and learning
        • Complex and overloaded menus
        • Confusing or not standardized icons
      • Hearing impairment users :
        • Poor quality of sound and/or interferences
        • Poor quality of images in video calls
        • Lack of subtitles and sign language adaptations
      • Speech / Communitation impairment users :
        • Difficulties typing messages
        • Complex menus and constant learning required
    Barriers of mainstream ICTs
  • 7.
    • Screen size
      • Very limited but increasing
      • Orientation: Square, landscape, portrait,…
      • Not standardized aspect ratio
    • User input
      • Not standardized. Different methods available:
        • T9 keypad
        • Extended QWERTY keyboards
        • Touch-screen virtual keyboards
        • Voice commands
      • Can be improved with spell checkers and predictive text
    • Limited Processor speed and memory available to run applications and ATs
    Mobile Restrictions
  • 8.
    • Two fundamental factors:
      • Target a mobile platform that is capable of running ATs
      • Adaptability, personalization and customization of mobile applications
    Designing Accessible Mobile Applications
  • 9.
    • Targeting mobile platforms that are capable of running ATs:
      • Without accessibility APIs:
    Designing Accessible Mobile Applications “ Name:” label + text box ATs should replace or chain the video driver Off-screen model On-screen
  • 10.
    • Targeting mobile platforms that are capable of running ATs:
      • With accessibility APIs:
    Designing Accessible Mobile Applications
    • Accessible slider:
      • Name: Age_slider
      • Role: Slider
      • Current Value: 30
      • Minimum Value: 0
      • Maximum Value: 100
      • Background Color: White
      • Foreground Color: Light Gray
    ATs User presentation
  • 11.
    • Mobile platforms with accessibility APIs:
      • BlackBerry OS
      • Android OS
      • iPhone OS
      • (Next year) JavaFX
    • Mobile platforms without accessibility APIs:
      • Symbian OS
      • Windows Mobile OS
    Designing Accessible Mobile Applications
  • 12.
    • Optimization of user experience
      • Input of information:
        • Design of menus
        • Text prediction
        • Spell-checking
        • Short-cuts (when possible)
      • Output of information
        • Provide visual alternatives: text, icons, audio
        • Make it configurable
      • Naming and labeling
        • Unique and meaningful names
      • Theme support
    Designing Accessible Mobile Applications
  • 13.
    • Optimization of user experience
      • User preferences
        • Look and feel
        • Font adjustment
        • Number of options or icons
      • Compatibility with accessibility services
      • Documentation and help menu
    Designing Accessible Mobile Applications
  • 14.
    • Example application: Accessible Contact Manager and Phone Dialler
    Example Application
  • 15.
    • Accessible solutions should always be validated by the end users
    • What do first users think about it?
      • Cognitive impaired users:
        • Satisfaction with the redundant information: text + image + voice
      • Visual impaired users:
        • Text-only vertical contact list
        • Translate UI frequently used settings to the home page (image and font size adjustment)
        • Separate applications for Contact Manager and the phone dialler
      • Motor impaired user:
        • Search field
        • Scroll bar with alphabet letters shortcuts Visual impairment users feedback
    Validation and Refinement
  • 16.
    • Accessibility is more than providing compatibility with ATs
    • User needs are quite different: Adaptability and configuration are key parameters
    • Application design should focus on each accessibility group, looking for specific solutions
    • Continuous refinement and validation of the solutions should by the users is required to obtain a “design for all”
    Conclusion and outlook