AT&T Unveils Universal Design Approach to Help Developers Meet the Wireless Needs of Customers with Disabilities
Wireless Leader Aims to Influence Industry-wide Change and Innovation in the Design of Wireless Products and Applications
San Antonio, Texas.-Have you ever tried to send a text message from a dark room? Listen to a voice mail message during a loud concert? Or perhaps even had your hands full with groceries when the phone rings? If so, then you have some experience, however temporary, of what it’s like to be in a situation of physical limitation. Whether the limitation is short-term or long-term or related to vision, hearing, speech, cognitive or dexterity, there is a universal need for mobile products and applications to be designed in such a way that they are accessible by all.
In an effort to encourage application developers and handset manufacturers to consider the needs of seniors or customers who have disabilities when designing products and services, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) announced today that the company’s approach to Universal Design will be made publicly available for the first time.
Universal Design is the practice of designing products and applications that are usable by the broadest possible range of consumers. AT&T embraces the concept of Universal Design and has urged its handset and software partners to consider this methodology as they are developing wireless products and applications. AT&T’s recently launched Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier applications are examples of accessible products and services that result from innovative collaboration and design.
* Mobile Speak is a powerful, full-fledged screen-reader with an easy-to-learn command structure, intuitive speech feedback in several languages and Braille support, which can be used with or without speech. Unlike other screen-readers for mobile phones, Mobile Speak automatically detects information that the blind user should know, just as a user with sight would easily find highlighted items or key areas of the screen at a glance.
* Mobile Magnifier is a flexible, full-screen magnification application that supports low- and high-resolution screens and can be used with or without speech feedback. Magnification software is compatible with a wide variety of mobile devices.
In creating its Universal Design methodology, AT&T consulted with many leading experts, such as the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies at Georgia Tech. By making AT&T’s Universal Design methodology available on its Web site, the company is hoping all developers of wireless products and applications will consider how future designs can create products, like Mobile Magnifier and Mobile Speak, that are both innovative and accessible.
“It is our goal that the concept of ’design for all’ is not viewed as a constraint but as a catalyst for innovation across the industry,” said Carlton Hill, vice president of Marketing for AT&T’s mobile unit. “We believe that, by making our methodology on Universal Design available for all to see, we can show the importance and value of creating wireless products and services that are usable and beneficial to as many people as possible. The end result will be more choices for more consumers.”
“Integration of Universal Design into business practice is fundamental to our mission of equitable access to wireless technologies for people of all ages and abilities,” said Jim Mueller, project director, User-Centered Research, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies at Georgia Tech. “We’re glad that AT&T shares our commitment and is making its Universal Design methodology publicly available.”
AT&T’s methodology not only defines and explains the benefits of Universal Design, it also provides several scenarios to further illustrate the relevance of this approach in the context of mobile handset and software design. For example, to meet the needs of someone who may have difficulty hearing, the document recommends that manufacturers consider text and picture messaging, vibration and LED displays in their design to alert the user to a call. Or, for someone who may have limited use of his or her hands, the document suggests such features as speech recognition and voice commands.
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