Thursday, November 30, 2017

How personal assistants, voice control and flashlight notifications are connected

How personal assistants, voice control and flashlight notifications are connected  

Thanks to the great feedback received in the GARI feature review, we will be adding a good number of new accessibility features to the database – meaning that users will be able to search for devices with these features to make the use of the device much easier.

Two of these new features that we will be adding are:
  • Personal Assistant / Voice Control; and
  • Flashlight Notifications
… and both can help users who are hard-of-hearing, deaf, or operate their device in very loud environments.

Below, we explain in this short blog article how these features work.

Personal Assistant / Voice Control

Whether the personal assistant on your mobile device is called Siri, Bixby or Google Now, they have one thing in common: they can greatly simplify the interaction with your device.

Personal assistants can help users with reduced vision and mobility to place calls, write text messages, open apps, and carry out searches. They are supported by artificial intelligence and learn the preferences of their users, and their built-in dictation function allows users to operate the device by simply using their voice.

Depending on the type of phone and its operating system, the user activates the personal assistant either by pressing a specific key (as in the case of Bixby), by pressing and holding the home button (as in the case of Siri) or by placing the finger on the microphone icon at the bottom left corner of the lock screen and swiping in any direction on the screen (as in the case of Google Now).

A great comparison of the three assistants can be found here:

Bixby vs Google Assistant vs Siri

Flashlight Notifications

Smartphone users can utilise the LED flash on the back of their phone to alert them of incoming calls, messages and notifications. This is a handy feature for persons with hearing loss and anyone who finds themselves in loud environments where ringtones cannot be heard.

Flashlight notifications can be activated by going to the accessibility menu and looking for Flash notification. If the accessibility features are categorized, the Flash notification will be under hearing features.

Further instructions on how to turn on flash notifications can be found here:

More information:

Use Siri on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

How to Activate Google Now in Android Nougat

Monday, November 13, 2017

Feedback from around the world on what mobile accessibility should look like – results of the 4th GARI feature review

As part of the GARI project, the MWF has committed to regular reviews of the features that we report on, considering changes in the technology and customer needs. In our 4th review of the GARI database and website carried out in summer 2017, we received feedback from 23 organisations around the world about what they like in GARI and what additional features they would like to see.

These organisations coming from Europe, North America, Latin America, and Australia proposed new accessibility features that they would like to see listed for mobile phones and Smart TVs in the GARI database to further help consumers find and select devices that can support them in their daily lives. They tested the search interface and accessibility of the database, evaluated the information provided on the GARI website, suggested edits to the texts and provided content for updates.

From the feedback on the mobile phone section, we have already identified a few new features that we will be adding over the coming weeks. These include the following:

  • Real-time-text capability (North America region only for the moment)
  • Personal Assistant / Voice Control
  • Haptic Feedback
  • Mono Audio
  • Text-to-Speech / Dictation
  • Flashlight Notifications
  • Emergency services & location
  • Allows for sign language communication
  • Manufacturer custom overlay of OS
  • Dedicated and clearly distinguishable volume keys
  • Dedicated and clearly distinguishable key to lock the screen 

And these features will be added to the Smart TV section:

  • Video / Audio description volume control: The user can control the volume of the video or audio description independently from the main audio track.
  • Support for Web Closed Captioning formats - with manufacturers having the option to list all the formats they support
  • Support for Broadcast Closed Captioning Formats
  • Bluetooth Connectivity

We thank all of you who took the time to test the GARI website and database and provide us with such detailed feedback. We will be in touch soon to let you know more about the changes to come and provide more details on how these features can help.