Like all Mozilla products, the operating system Firefox OS is open source, meaning that members of the development community can contribute to its improvement. As we reported in July, this will allow for Firefox OS’s accessibility features to be introduced and enhanced more quickly than in closed source systems such as Apple iOS.
According to Mozilla’s accessibility quality assurance engineer, Marco Zehe, the company is also working to add more accessibility functions to its Firefox OS. So far the company has added a screen reader, speech controls, automatic focusing on new elements when switching pages or launching new applications, and a fully accessible ‘settings’ application.
Since announcing its Firefox OS in July last year, the company has launched three smartphone models from device manufacturers ZTE, Alcatel and LG. These models are available in 15 countries across South America and Eastern Europe.
At the recent Mobile World Congress in Brazil, Mozilla announced a Firefox OS smartphone priced at just US$25. The most basic model will include basic functions such as a music player, video player, web browser, FM radio, wireless connectivity, a camera and email. These will include all of Firefox OS’s accessibility features that are being gradually introduced to the system.
Scheduled to go on sale later this year, these US$25 smartphones will largely be targeted at people in developing countries. However they are likely to help drive down the price of smartphones globally and remove price as a barrier to accessible communications technology.
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