150 organisations from over 40 countries were invited to participate in the 6th GARI feature review and helped shape the list of accessibility features we report on. Below, we summarise the key changes that resulted from this review.
Every two years, we review GARI’s reporting framework against the latest technology and to ensure that the features are what people are looking for. In our 6th review cycle, we invited 150 organisations from over 40 countries to provide feedback. We received feedback from stakeholders in Austria, Australia, Belgium , Canada, the Czech Republic, the EU, France, Germany, Ireland , Israel, Lithuania, Mexico , Norway Slovenia , Sweden, the UK and the US.
A big THANK YOU to all the organisations and experts who have taken the time to review GARI and provide us with feedback and concrete suggestions!
Over the past 15 years, the database and website have grown, providing information on new product groups and additional information such as feature guides and short tutorials. The technology we report on has also progressed rapidly. Hence it is time to review the structure in which we present this information.
For instance, in the beginning, there were barely any features that helped users with speech impairments, so Hearing/Speech features were combined in one only category. These two will be separated out, and users will have an easier time to search for hearing related or speech related features in the database.
The same goes for feature phones versus smartphones. Ten years ago, many smartphones still had buttons or a physical keyboard and shared many form factors with feature phones. They will now be listed separately.
The key changes are in the list of new features that you will find in the database and that will help identify devices that work for users with specific requirements. These include,
- for mobile phones:
- Audio Streaming to Hearing-Aid (ASHA): Device allows direct Bluetooth streaming to hearing aids or cochlear implant.
- Live transcription / captions: Does the device enable embedded live transcription or captioning features for audio, video and telephone calls?
- Sound quality adjustable: Allows users to configure or customize specific audio parameters by allowing to adjust frequencies and sound from the device.
- Safe audio: The device’s average sound level is set to a limit of 85 dB(A). The user retains the possibility to raise the sound level to a maximum of 100 dB(A). In this case the user is warned about the risks involved, by means of a warning after every 20 hours of listening time.
- Total conversation capability: The device supports Real-Time-Text communication in video calls suitable for sign language communication, provided the network supports this feature.
- Recognition of atypical speech patterns: The device’s voice processing is capable of being trained to recognize atypical speech patterns and allows for speech-to-text with atypical speech patterns.
- Highlight content as it is spoken: Does the device allow to highlight content to have it read aloud?
- HD Audio: Does the device support High Definition (HD) Audio?
- Closed captions adjustable: Allows to adjust font style and size of closed captions.
- Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA): Is the device capable of receiving messages from the US Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system? (North America Only)
- Compatible with automotive infotainment systems: Which of the automotive infotainment systems is the device compatible with?
- Air gestures to control the device: You can use gestures in close proximity to the device to initiate specific phone actions.
- Facial gestures to control the device: You can use facial gestures to navigate your device, incl. open mouth, smile, raise eyebrow, look left, look right, look up to initiate specific phone actions.
- Device size: (length width depth)
- Headphone jack: Does the device have a 3.5 mm headphone jack?
- Screen refresh rate adjustable: Allows to adjust the screen refresh rate in the range of 60 Hz to 120 Hz. A higher refresh rate can make motion appear smoother and can remove afterimages from fast-moving images.
- Eye tracking: Does the device support eye tracking for navigation and action control?
- Display Characteristics - Enhance screen colour: Does the device allow to adjust the display colour to your preferences?
- Assistive touch: Can the user replace physical buttons or gestures with virtual buttons?
- Focus mode: Helps reduce distractions by muting notifications and in-coming calls while focusing on one task.
- Manufacturer guaranteed years of software support for device model: Number of years that the manufacturer provides software updates for the device after putting it onto the market.
- Manufacturer guaranteed years of security updates for device model: Number of years that the manufacturer provides security updates for the device after putting it onto the market.
- Zoom in on a sign language window: Does the device allow to zoom in on the sign language video?
- Closed sign language display: The device allows for closed sign language interpretation (graphic or picture in picture).
- Positioning of closed captions adjustable: Does the device allow to change the positioning of the closed captions on the screen?
- Closed captions adjustable: Allows to adjust font and size of closed captions.
- Dual output (headset and normal output): Allows users to control the volume of the audio directed to the assistive listening device, independently from the main audio output.
- Independent volume control for assistive listening devices: Allows hard of hearing users to use headset jack to connect streaming device to allow them to control the volume, while the rest of the family can continue enjoying listening experience without having raised volume.
- Shortcut to accessibility menu: Does the device have a shortcut to reach the accessibility menu in three steps or less?
- Remote control using infrared: Does the device’s delivered with remote control use infrared to connect with the Smart TV?
- Remote control using radio-frequencies (RF): Does the device’s delivered with remote control use radio-frequencies for connecting with the Smart TV?
- Remote control using mixed IR / RF: Does the device’s delivered with remote control use a mixture of infrared and radio to connect with the Smart TV?
- Voice assistant: Does the device have a voice assistant built-in?
- Device operating system
- Standard formats for the region’s subtitles and captioning for web and broadcasting supported: Standard formats are content provider dependent. The device supports the standards formats for the region’s subtitles and captioning for web and broadcasting.
- Support of HbbTV: The device supports a version of the HbbTV software application stack.
- Spoken Subtitles – Broadcast: Reads out the subtitles on broadcast content appearing on the screen.
- Spoken Subtitles – On demand: Reads out the subtitles on on-demand content appearing on the screen.
- Receives free-to-air broadcast: Receives free to air broadcast via external Aerial or Satellite Dish.
- Remote control audio tour: Audibly describes the button layout of the remote control to help users with sight loss learn where the buttons are.
- Screen magnifier: Does the screen magnifier enlarge all views, including the web?
- Key Feedback – Audible: When you press a key, the TV makes a sound to feed back that the keypress has been recognized.
These new features have already been added to the English version of GARI and will be added in the 19 other language versions progressively over the coming weeks.
There was also very strong support to use the GARI platform as a central source of information on accessible devices and to extend the database to new product categories.
Again, a big thank you to all who have provided input and to everyone supporting the GARI project!