Mobile operating systems

Mozilla’s Firefox OS: accessibility to be included

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The not-for-profit technology organisation Mozilla is releasing its first operating system for mobile devices, Firefox OS, and its accessibility features could soon rival those offered by Apple and Android.

Since announcement of Mozilla’s intention to develop its own operating system for smartphones and tablets, many have speculated on the access potential for people with disabilities. Mozilla is a not-for profit community and software company that works to develop products that use open-source web technologies. This means many different developers can contribute to and improve the accessibility of Mozilla’s software, which can be updated to work with different assistive technologies such a screen readers.

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Mobile technology and disability at the M-enabling conference

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The Australian Communications Consumer Network (ACCAN) has announced the major speakers at the M-enabling Australasia Conference. The event will bring together consumers, government and industry, and focus on how mobile devices, operating systems and apps can be made more accessible for people with disability.

The program, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere, is designed to cater to the interests of people with a disability, policy makers, device manufacturers and software developers.


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Feature: SIMO – Australia’s indoor mapping project

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For most people, great ideas are triggered by an event or experience that pushes them to do something. For Sydney industrial designer Euan Ramsey-Stewart, it was getting kicked out of art galleries, writes Clarizza Fernandez.

"I used to get kicked out of art galleries because I would go up and touch sculptures. I thought 'What if I couldn't see the damn thing?' I'd at least want to know what it felt like."


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Samsung Galaxy S4 accessibility

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Samsung’s latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4, was launched on Friday with Samsung claiming the device would “bury” its biggest rival, the iPhone 5. Samsung announced a suite of new features, including some that have benefits for people with a disability such as eye-tracking, enhanced gestures and improvements to the voice-activated assistant, S Voice.

Samsung is yet to release a list of the phone’s key specifications, including which assistive technologies it includes. The Galaxy S4 runs on the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system which comes with a screen magnifier, screen reader and gesture mode by default. However, as Android is open source, manufacturers such as Samsung can pick and choose which features they include. This explains the wide inconsistencies in levels of accessibility across Android smartphones and tables.

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