Section 255, Section 508, and CVAA Evaluations/Remediations of Android Devices

By Steve Jacobs, President, IDEAL Group and CEO, Apps4Android

We are often asked how we evaluate Android smart devices against the accessibility requirements of Section 255 of The Telecommunications Act of 1996, Section 508 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended in 1998 [29 U.S.C. § 79429 U.S.C. § 794 (d)], and The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) of 2010 and then remediate potential problems in a cost-effective manner. Our development teams are intimately familiar with the accessibility features/functions of each version of Android…

Version

Codename

API

Distribution

1.6 Donut

4

0.20%

2.1 Eclair

7

1.90%

2.2 Froyo

8

7.60%

2.3 – 2.3.2 Gingerbread

9

0.20%

2.3.3 – 2.3.7

10

44.00%

3.1 Honeycomb

12

0.30%

3.2

13

0.90%

4.0.3 – 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich

15

28.60%

4.1 Jelly Bean

16

14.90%

4.2

17

1.60%

Data collected during a 14-day period ending on March 4, 2013

…as well as verifying whether or not Android devices pass Google’s Android Accessibility and TTS Certification Testing Suite.  This being the case, Apps4Android developed Android utilities that evaluate the degree to which Android smart devices provide implementations of the Android accessibility framework consistent with the default Android implementation for that version of Android.  For example,

  • Device implementations MUST support third party accessibility service implementations through the android.accessibilityservice APIs.
  • Device implementations MUST generate AccessibilityEvents and deliver these events to all registered AccessibilityService implementations in a manner consistent with the default Android implementation.
  • Device implementations MUST provide a user-accessible mechanism to enable and disable accessibility services, and MUST display this interface in response to the android.provider.Settings.ACTION_ACCESSIBILITY_SETTINGS intent.
  • Additionally, device implementations SHOULD provide an implementation of an accessibility service on the device, and SHOULD provide a mechanism for users to enable the accessibility service during device setup. An open source implementation of an accessibility service is available from the Eyes Free project.

For all version of Android that allow applications to make use of text-to-speech (TTS) services, and allows service providers to provide implementations of TTS services, device implementations MUST meet the following requirements related to the Android TTS framework:

  • Device implementations MUST support the Android TTS framework APIs and SHOULD include a TTS engine supporting the languages available on the device. Note that the upstream Android open source software includes a full-featured TTS engine implementation.
  • Device implementations MUST support installation of third-party TTS engines. Device implementations MUST provide a user-accessible interface that allows users to select a TTS engine for use at the system level.

As you can tell, it gets very complicated.  Manufacturers and/or Carriers customize each smart phone based on a set of “look and feel” specifications… and any modification to a Google distribution of Android can cause accessibility problems.

For more information please see:

  1. Google’s Android 4.2 Compatibility Definitions Mandating that Accessibility and TTS be Kept Intact
  2. Google’s Android 4.1 Compatibility Definitions Mandating that Accessibility and TTS be Kept Intact
  3. Google’s Android 4.0 Compatibility Definitions Mandating that Accessibility and TTS be Kept Intact
  4. Apps4Android Accessibility Apps are Installed on 2,265 Different Android Devices
  5. Apps4Android Accessibility Applications are installed in 150 Countries and U.S. Territories
  6. Apps4Android Accessibility Applications are Being Used on Devices Made by 57 Manufacturers
  7. Apps4Android Accessibility Applications are Being Used on Devices Distributes by 545 Wireless Service Providers
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