3.2.3 Adaptive technologies
As smartphones and tablets have proliferated, there has been increasing development of software intended to assist those with disabilities. Such software is not necessarily targeted at the academic sector, and it may even be included as a core operating system feature. For example, smartphones running current versions of iOS or Android have voice recognition and text-to-speech capabilities, which can be enhanced by third-party applications.
Other functionalities, such as magnification and more advanced speech recognition, can be easily installed as third-party applications on smartphones and tablets running the major mobile operating systems (including Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Symbian and Windows Phone). For example, the Mobile Accessibility suite (for Android) provides replacements for several components of the basic operating system with versions that were specifically designed for people with visual impairments; it also includes a screen reader. 117 ClearCaptions (for Android and iOS) provides near-real-time captions of telephone calls on smartphones (as well as computers). 118 Nuance offers applications for Android, iOS, and Blackberry that enable search, dictation, email and simplified text entry. 119 Other applications make use of mobile device cameras to read barcodes and identify objects and colors. As with any hardware or design feature that benefits disabled users, all of these features can be used by students with disabilities to help them access educational materials.
In addition, there is a growing body of mobile applications designed specifically to assist students with disabilities in a classroom or educational setting. For example, the ITU and G3ict identified several applications for Android and iOS devices that are geared toward students with developmental disabilities and speech therapy requirements, including tools intended to assist with such skills as sharing, letter recognition, conversation skills and sentence building. 120
Governments have encountered certain obstacles, however, in modifying LCCDs for use by disabled persons. In Russia and Uruguay, the governments were unable to install the accessibility applications on their low-cost computers because of hardware limitations, so they instead had to use regular computers. 121 Uruguay also plans to provide adapted computers for deaf and physically challenged children; however, the cost of the adaptive software is expected to be more than the price of the computers (USD 150). 122
117 Code Factory, “Mobile Accessibility and other Android apps,” available at http://www.codefactory.es/en/products.asp?id=415.
118 See http://www.clearcaptions.com .
120 ITU and G3ict, “Making mobile phones and services accessible for persons with disabilities,” (August 2012), available at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/sis/PwDs/Documents/Mobile_Report.pdf.
121 http://wiki.laptop.org/images/0/03/Evaluation_report_OLPC_Russia.pdf and http://web.archive.org/web/20090612193050/http://latu21.latu.org.uy/es/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=460:plan-ceibal-brinda-laptops-a-ninos-ciegos-entre-mayo-y-junio&catid=36:noticias-de-ceibal&Itemid=262