Android Accessiblity Features? And do they work with SmartApps?


iOS has a great feature built into the operating system called AssistiveTouch. Most people are completely unaware of it, but for those who need it, it’s outstanding. It lets you do most of the things that you have to physically do on the device with just a knuckle tap on the AT menu. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but imagine you are wearing a large oven mitt on each hand and now try to “swipe up” or even push the Home button. AssistiveTouch solves all that. It even has a gesture recorder so you can have someone with better hand control record even a complex gesture sequence for you that you can then work with one tap. Including stuff like shaking the device.

OK, I have been trying to figure out if android tablets have anything equivalent. I know there’s a Touch Manager menu option, but as far as I can tell, it’s limited to some specific gestures and Home key activation. No equivalent gesture recorder.

I’ve asked on several wheelchair groups, but no one is using an android tablet, so that may be answer in itself. There are two or three third party apps in the google app store that are supposed to deliver this functionality, but there are a lot of complaints about them and they don’t seem to keep up with operating system changes. If you really truly need this feature, and it’s not just a convenience, it’s a lot more desireable to have it built in to the operating system.

I tried contacting Samsung’s customer service, but got stuck with a rep who said that she could only answer questions about tablets from specific carriers, it’s a different department that handles WiFi only tablets, and that accessibility is not a “core feature.” Which was pretty terrifying in the context. Especially since I told her I was trying to decide whether or not to get a tablet, so she could just start out by assuming the most current version, but she still said that wasn’t enough for her to answer the question.

Anyway, I am curious about some of the community options here, including SharpTools for voice control and the ACTion dashboard, but I need to know if there’s an equivalent to the iOS AssistiveTouch feature built in, including gesture recording, or I’m pretty much cooked before I start. And one of the other great things about the iOS feature set is that it’s always available, even inside third party apps. So if a SmartApp makes the accessibility menu unavailable, or requires pressing the Home key to get to it, that doesn’t work for me either.

Anyone with android tablet devices able to answer this question for these specific SmartApps or others with similar functionality?

( co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Very valuable Topic. Thanks!


OK, my occupational therapist got some answers on android accessibility features.

  1. it appears that the use case they used was a person who was blind. Way less than iOS for people with hand control issues. For example, you have to shake the device 5 or 6 times to turn on voice navigation, and, unlike iOS, there’s no standard way to substitute a tap for a Shake.

  2. there is no standard gesture recorder.

  3. switch control in lollipop is broken. (It works well in iOS 7 and 8.)

Switch control is what let’s someone with, say, no arms use a touchscreen device by using another part of their body like head, chin, foot, thigh, etc to press a big button that then activates certain features on the tablet. Or even blow into a straw.

Switch control is often, but not always, combined with voice control.

Anyway, the short answer is that iOS is usually better at accessibility out of the box, although there are various third party options that may solve a particular use case.