This fall BlindShell, a Czech start-up, presented their new, easy-to-use smartphone interface to the LightHouse Labs group while in town for TechCrunch Conference. Their goal is to offer a simple, cheap and intuitive smartphone solution for blind and visually impaired users.
We’re looking for people willing to give feedback on the new system in exchange for the free software. By collaborating with The Czech Blind Union and The Vodafone Foundation, BlindShell has developed an application that uses simple, intuitive touch gestures to access the Android system. It includes functions such as calling, messages, contacts, alarm, notes, color recognition, voice recorder, calendar, settings and favorites. Even users inexperienced with touch screens can learn how to control BlindShell after a 30 minute tutorial. A unique, easy-to-use keyboard for writing numbers and texts is seamlessly integrated. For newcomers, it eases the transition to touch phones without having to learn the more complicated interfaces of TalkBack or VoiceOver. It is capable of running on low cost hardware, making it possible to have an accessible touch screen smart phone for about $100.
The LightHouse believes this may be a good solution for those new to smartphones, and the simplified interface may be easier to learn for older students. BlindShell is looking for beginner level Android users to provide feedback on the user friendliness of this new application. Volunteers that already own phones will be able to access the app for free and get to keep it and all future generations at no cost. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your experience after at least 3 weeks.
If you have an Android phone and would like to be part of the LightHouse trial group, please contact LightHouse Deputy Director Scott Blanks at 415-694-7371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.