Today at the 27th annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference Sprint announced that they will begin offering a free application to ease the use of Android phones for people who are blind or have low vision. The app, written by developers at Code Factory, is free in the Sprint area of the Android Market for Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers.
The application normally sells for $99 US, and is for anyone who has trouble reading the small print on a smartphone. It's simple user interface and voice guided instructions help users make and receive calls, texts and mail messages, as well as access things like their contacts, calendar, and even browse the web.
We're hard on the carriers here sometimes. Sometimes they deserve it. But I want to take a moment and say on behalf of all of us at Android Central that we applaud Sprint for what they're doing here. The people that will find this application useful may not be able to afford a hundred dollar Android app, and offering it for free is a nice way to give back to customers. Nice work Sprint.
It's available in both English and Spanish, free for Sprint customers with Android phones running 2.1 or higher. Download links are below, and a short video and the press release are after the break.
Sprint Launches Code Factory Mobile Accessibility Application for Free to Android Users Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision
Free app is now available, making Android smartphones more accessible for postpaid and no-contract Sprint customers
SAN DIEGO (BUSINESS WIRE), February 29, 2012 - Sprint (NYSE: S) announced today at the 27th annual International Technology & Persons with Disabilities Conference, hosted by California State University Northridge (CSUN), that it has officially launched a free downloadable application providing easier access to an Android smartphone’s functionality for customers who are blind or have low vision.
Developed by Code Factory, the full suite of Mobile Accessibility features is being offered by Sprint under the name “Wireless Accessibility,” at no charge through the Android Market to Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile USA customers.
Mobile Accessibility has been specifically designed by Code Factory for people who are blind or visually impaired and for elderly individuals or those who cannot read print on smartphones because of physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive or learning disabilities. The application features a simplified user interface and textual information that is spoken aloud using voice synthesis to aid navigation of the device.
This Code Factory application typically costs $99 on Android Market, but it is now available for free for postpaid Sprint customers with Android 2.1+ smartphones activated on a monthly service plan that includes data, such as the Everything Data plan starting at $79.99. The app also is free for no-contract customers with Android 2.1+ smartphones on Virgin Mobile USA’s Beyond Talk or Boost Mobile’s Monthly or Daily Unlimited plans.
“Having the ability to gain greater access to information on smartphones through the use of a free suite of applications is a very positive development in the blind community’s quest for more affordable choices,” said Mitch Pomerantz, president of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). “The American Council of the Blind commends Sprint for its willingness to take another positive step toward full product accessibility.”
The application is available in both English and Spanish. As of today, customers on Sprint, Boost Mobile or Virgin Mobile USA can download the app from Android Market under the name “Wireless Accessibility EN” for English and “Wireless Accessibility ES” for Spanish.
“Sprint is proud to offer Wireless Accessibility free of charge to help our customers with disabilities take advantage of the full functionality of their smartphones,” said Fared Adib, Sprint vice president-Product Development. “Sprint works hard to meet the needs of all its customers, and the Wireless Accessibility app will help people who are blind or have difficulty reading on smartphones get the most out of their device.”
“By subsidizing our product for their customers, Sprint is helping us provide accessibility features to a wider audience of smartphone users who need these tools,” said Eduard Sanchez, Code Factory CEO. “Code Factory is proud to be working with Sprint to provide solutions for customers who are blind or visually impaired.”
Features of Wireless Accessibility:
- Touch navigation: Users can simply move their finger around the screen and the voice synthesis will read the text located under their finger. They can swipe up/down/right/left and tap on the screen to navigate through the interface, and they can enable sound and vibration feedback.
- Easy to input text: In or outside the Mobile Accessibility suite users can use the touch QWERTY keyboard or speech recognition to write text quickly and easily – making it possible to write an SMS or email using their voice only.
- Voice synthesis: Provides customers natural sounding voice read back.
Wireless Accessibility functionality:
- Phone: Make calls, answer calls, hear the caller ID and manage their call log.
- Contacts: App tells user how many contacts they have and speaks the contact’s name they selected.
- SMS: Virtual keyboard is larger and fills the entire screen. When the user clicks a letter on the keyboard, the app reads the letter to them. This makes it easier for them to compose emails or SMS messages. It also reads SMS messages to the user.
- Alarms: Set their alarms.
- Web: Full Web browser experience; also reads text from Web page to the user.
- Calendar: Create, edit and delete a calendar entry. View all events per day, week or month.
- Email: Full access to Gmail accounts; reads emails to the user.
- Where am I?: GPS application that gives the user an update about their current location.
- Access to basic phone functions, such as date and time or missed calls. User can click on the function and it speaks to them.
About Sprint Nextel
Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services bringing the freedom of mobility to consumers, businesses and government users. Sprint Nextel served more than 55 million customers at the end of 2011 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; offering industry-leading mobile data services, leading prepaid brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Newsweek ranked Sprint No. 3 in its 2011 Green Rankings, listing it as one of the nation’s greenest companies, the highest of any telecommunications company. You can learn more and visit Sprint atwww.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.
About Code Factory
Founded in 1998 with headquarters in Terrassa (Barcelona), Spain, Code Factory is the global leader committed to the development of products designed to eliminate barriers to the accessibility of mobile technology for the blind and visually impaired. Today, Code Factory is the leading provider of accessible mobile applications such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, and Braille interfaces. Code Factory’s products are compatible with the widest range of mainstream mobile devices running on Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry Smartphones, and Android. Among Code Factory's customers are well-known organizations for the blind such as ONCE in Spain, and carriers Sprint, AT&T, Bouygues Telecom, SFR, TIM and Vodafone.