As of the June 28, 2012 build of Firefox for Android nightly builds, the Explore By Touch feature of the Ice Cream Sandwich version of TalkBack is supported in web content in addition to the already supported browser user interface. Read more about this feature on Eitan’s blog.
Also, more buttons are now labeled so TalkBack can find them. For example, the button to open the menus on devices that do not have a hardware button for this, is now being spoken.
So if you run Ice Cream Sandwich, go grab the latest build, try it out and give us feedback!
Update: As of some time this lunch time in Europe, WebVisum is back in full working business. The instructions to edit one’s hosts file to point to the IP address for the WebVisum service directly has, therefore, been removed from this post. It is no longer required.
Yes, you heard correctly! Accessible Firefox for Android nightly builds, as of June 13, have quick navigation keys that those who are blind are most likely familiar with from the desktop screen reader world! In short, these are single letter key presses that allow a blind user using speech output to quickly skim a page for certain elements. Whereas a sighted person can simply glance at the screen to get an idea of the structure, surfing using a screen reader is much more sequentially, and thus most screen readers implement a mechanism to allow a blind person to skim a page nearly as effectively as a sighted person can. This is done by allowing direct jumps to certain types of elements. Especially when one knows a page well, this allows for rapid navigation and interaction.
And the greatest beauty is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re using a physical keyboard, a Bluetooth keyboard connected to your Android device, or the Eyes-Free keyboard in typing mode to use them!
Here’s a list of keys currently implemented. All of them will move in the opposite direction if used together with the shift key.
List of quick navigation keys for accessible Firefox for Android
||Moves to next named anchor
||Moves to next button
||Moves to next combobox or listbox
||Moves to next text entry or password field
||Moves to next form field (button, combobox, text entry, radio button, slider, checkbox)
||Moves to next graphic
||Moves to next heading of any level
||Moves to next item in an unordered, ordered or definition list
||Moves to next hyperlink
||Moves to next unordered, ordered or definition list
||Moves to next page tab (in ARIA-enabled web apps)
||Moves to next radio button
||Moves to next separator
||Moves to next data table
||Moves to next checkbox
This should allow much easier and faster navigation on most web sites. To use them, simply arrow into web content, they do not work while you are in the browser UI parts. We also do not allow quick navigation if you’re focused on an entry or password field inside a web form, since you’ll want to enter text into that. You have to use the directional controller or d-pad to move out of the entry field first, and then use quick navigation keys. If you’re using the Eyes-Free keyboard, you can switch to typing mode even when you’re not focused on an entry, and use the quick navigation keys.