Small demo video about Firefox OS accessibility

Over the past few weeks, especially after the launch of Firefox OS devices in early July, I received a lot of questions about the accessibility of this mobile operating system purely based on web technologies.

To answer that, I made a little video yesterday where I talk about our progress and give a little demo of what we currently have. You’ll hear an actual Firefox OS device talk! :-)

Note that, because of accessibility problems with embedding videos in blogs, this video is only linked to Youtube externally and will auto-play as soon as you open the link. That way, screen reader users won’t have to cope with the Flash player, they can just let it roll.

Enjoy!

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Comments

14 Responses to Small demo video about Firefox OS accessibility

  1. Vortex says:

    Hi Marco,
    Wow, great demo. Do you know whether it is possible phones with physical qwerty keyboards running Firefox OS to be released?
    Thanks.

  2. Nikita Tseykovets says:

    I have met with similar problems with sound on Android 4.1-4.2, when the speech synthesizer output sounds as 8 kHz. Caution about this issue is in the comments to the source code of Android Jelly Bean.
    You can try to solve this problem sound changes from 8 kHz to 16 kHz.
    Perhaps Firefox OS inherited this bug with the kernel Android. Try using a sound frequency of 16 kHz.

  3. Marco says:

    Thanks, we will definitely try this!

  4. Nikita Tseykovets says:

    I am always happy to help. I would be interested to know if this will help. :-)

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  6. tuxor says:

    Like Vortex, I’m eager to know whether Firefox OS will be compatible with devices coming with hardware qwerty keyboard. Any ideas on that?

  7. Marco says:

    I just saw today that on XDA Developers, there are ports being worked on for the HTC Droid 2, which is a phone with a QWERTY keyboard. Mozilla has nothing in the works for these phones ATM if I’m not misinformed. But the stuff coming out of XDA is usually of good quality, so once we get the screen reader working to a point where end users can use it, you may wanna look there.

  8. tuxor says:

    HTC Droid 2? Afaik there is no such phone. My second thought was, maybe you are talking about the Motorola Droid 2 which is indeed a qwerty phone, but I was not able to locate any attempts on porting Firefox OS to the Motorola Droid 2. Sorry, but I’m really puzzled, which phone you are referring to :-(

  9. Jared says:

    I’m a totally blind programmer with an interest in smartphone
    accessibility. I just read that ZTE is now selling an unlocked
    smartphone running Firefox OS for $80 on eBay. Considering this is the
    cost of a nice dinner for two I am tempted to
    buy it realizing that the accessibility will not be polished. I have a
    couple questions though. First the specs are 256 Megs of ram and a 1
    GHZ processor. Is this enough to run Firefox OS with accessibility in
    its current state? Second if I bought the phone would I be able to
    update it with the latest accessibility improvements, even if it meant
    compiling the code myself? Finally if I bought the phone now would
    accessibility be good enough to let me test apps I wrote myself, or
    are third party apps still inaccessible?
    Thanks for any info.

  10. Marco says:

    Hi Jared,

    the current version on the phone will not be accessible. The version we are currently planning to add accessibility for developers to will be the 1.2 release, due early next quarter if I get our schedule right. However, that will in no way be end-user ready, it won’t, for example, have a gesture or so to turn accessibility on. So you’d definitely need sighted help once to set up the screen reader.
    The specs of the ZTE phone should be enough to run accessibility. It won’t be the most performant in the world, but it would be enough to test one’s apps. However, since you’re blind, you can do much of the testing yourself using NVDA on Windows, or Orca on Linux, and Firefox. The ruls used are the same on all platforms. So you can even get started without actually having a phone or even using the simulator.

    But if you’re so eager to build Firefox OS yourself, you could do it with the ZTE device. However, some extra steps not in the official building docs are required to get accessibility working, and this will definitely change over the coming weeks as we get ready for 1.2. So again: It’s all still in flux at the moment.

  11. Jared says:

    Thanks for the info. I don’t mind having sited help for the initial setup, but if there are currently undocumented steps for building Firefox OS with accessibility it seems like in spite of my early addoptor streak I should wait a few weeks. Is it safe to assume that there will be an update posted to this blog when 1.2 is released?

  12. Daan says:

    Hello,

    Nice to read that Firefox OS will be accessible for the blind in the future. Do you post new blogs when the first version with accessibility functions is available? I read that LG will release a new mobile device with Firefox OS, I hope this will give a boost to this OS and the accessibility of it.

  13. Gerald says:

    Any updates on FirefoxOS Screen Reader? Is there an alpha version somewhere out there to test it? Will it be included in the upcoming 1.2 release or will it be offered on the marketplace?

  14. Marco says:

    Gerald, no it will not be available for general use in the upcoming 1.2 version yet. We hit a few roadblocks and are currently working on getting it in better shape for general use, hopefully, but no promises, for 1.3. Developers will be able to turn it on in the 1.2 release, but it won’t do much beyond that and giving a very first glimpse of what’s to come. That’s why it is in the “At your own risk” section. ;-)

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