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  • General interface
  • Session creation
  • Accesibility
  • Tablet vs phone

What is it about:

Ability Connect is a free application of alternative communication for mobile devices, promoted and developed by the University of Alicante with the support of the Vodafone Spain Foundation. The application allows several devices to communicate in real time through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or mobile data. This app allows the content to be communicated to adapt to the needs of different groups with disabilities such as people with auditory deficit, low vision or dyslexia.
 
 

Forms of acquisition:

The application is available for free for terminals with Android or iOS operating system.

Click on the following link to download the Android version of the application:

Click on the following link to download the iOS version of the application:

To know more details about the application or contact the developer click on the following link:

https://abilityconnect.ua.es/index/comunicacionEnTiempoReal

 

Technical verification:

The tests have been made with a terminal Xiaomi A2 lite with the Android version (2.3.5) and a Samsung J5 2016 and an IPhone 6S terminal (2.3.5) with the IOS version of the application, as well as with a Samsung Tablet.

For the correct use of the application it is necessary to give the pertinent permissions in Android once installed.

The main functionality of Ability Connect is the creation of shared sessions for the exchange of information, generally text. There are 2 main ways to share these sessions, on the one hand, Bluetooth, and on the other through an internet connection whether Wifi, 3G or 4G.

We have tested the application in both cases and we opted for its use via internet sessions since in this case they work more reliably.

The session through Wifi (which includes both Wi-Fi connection and mobile data type 3G or 4G) work well in any of the 4 terminals with which we have tested.

During the tests carried out some problems have arisen between the Bluetooth connection of the different terminals and that is why we propose the use of sessions via the internet for a better user experience.

 

 

If not indicated otherwise, the sessions created are public so that all users of the application including those outside your immediate environment can access and read the information. To prevent this from happening, a password must be placed if you want to protect access to the sessions. The default password is 1234 but it can be modified to another one in the configuration menu.

The tests carried out on Tablet devices show us that the application adapts perfectly to the size of the screen of this type of devices. The sessions through Wifi or mobile data in the case of having a SIM card work in the same way as in Smartphone devices.

 

 

In the history section, a history of the sessions in which you have participated both as a host (created by yourself) and as a guest is accumulated. In this section of history there is some disorganization among other things because the sessions are not stored with the correct date, so we propose to review this point since it is very useful when rescuing sessions from past moments. This functionality we believe is one of the most powerful of the application because it is what allows you to use it as a place to store notes of the sessions you have attended.

 

 

The application also has a section called editor for personal notes, very useful in case you want to make a note outside the general session. The text written in this section is stored for consultation whenever the application is accessed.

Accessibility

In the Accessibility section, we can only say that everything included is done in a careful and reliable way, and provides the basis to include new functionalities in the future. In short, Ability connect is a 4x4 at this point facilitating access, reading, viewing or listening to the sessions in multiple ways and always adapting to the preferences of each user.

Ability connect makes use of techniques such as sizes, contrasts or types of letters, speech synthesis, and efficiently allows the use of support products such as Talkback, Voiceover or Brailleback with which it is able to respond to a large number of needs .

 

 

Use cases

The application is focused on its use in the school environment, but it is also extendable to use in conferences, classrooms and workshops in the work or cultural environment.

Among the multitude of people with diverse needs that can benefit from the application we can include the following groups:

  • Deaf people (by text)
  • Blind people (through screen reader and speech synthesizer)
  • Deaf blind people (braille line supported with voiceover or brailleback)
  • People with reduced vision (use of enlarged letter sizes and improvement of contrasts)
  • People with speech difficulties (using text)
  • People with reduced mobility who have difficulties with manual writing when taking notes (storing messages in text format and future incorporation of voice dictation functionality)
  • Students without any functional diversity who wish to have a record of class notes.
  • Some other profiles of people with cognitive difficulties that can benefit from being able to consult information repeatedly.

Some other profiles of people with cognitive difficulties that can benefit from being able to consult information repeatedly.
According to the developers, the application will soon have a new version that will include the dictation of notes by voice and its subsequent automatic conversion to text (functionality that is now implemented as a separate application called "ListenAll").

In the case of people with rest of vision that do not use screen readers, the application has its own voice synthesizer. For this it is necessary to access the menu in the upper right corner indicated by an arrow, and click on "read aloud" each time we want to repeat the text.
 

Conclusion

Ability connect is a usable, accessible, useful application with a real impact on the training and cultural activities of its users.

In our opinion it does not make much sense to keep the functionalities that are not executed reliably so we would eliminate the possibility of Bluetooth focusing efforts only on sessions via the Internet.

We are aware that its developers continue to devise improvements and soon will release a version that gathers the most important ones.

Highlights:

  • The numerous accessibility options for different needs
  • The simplicity of use
  • Free and multiplatform: iOS, Android, Tablet, Smartphone ...
  • The possibility of storing the sessions to be consulted a posteriori.

Improvement points:

  • Some failures in Bluetooth connectivity
  • The session history could be better organized
  • Design and manufacturing: 4 sobre 5(4/5)
    4
    Refers to the physical aspects and details of the manufacturing of the technological product
  • User Experience: 4 sobre 5(4/5)
    4
    This criterion is linked to the user's assessment of the product or application
  • Technical features: 3 sobre 5(3/5)
    3
    Description of the quality of the technical specifications of the technological solution
  • Accessibility: 5 sobre 5(5/5)
    5
    It is the degree to which people can use or access a product, technological solution or service, regardless of their technical, cognitive or physical capabilities

Social valuation:

We have tested the application with our volunteer Andrés, to check its operation with sessions for users for people with reduced or no visibility.


The idea in Andrés's words is brilliant. Solves a need for global communication that had never been addressed from so many profiles.
People can be attending in class or at a conference or workshop and do not need to take notes since the contents are stored.
Students or people who for some reason can not travel could follow the sessions from home remotely and configuring their accessibility preferences.


The application is well labeled for screen readers in both IOS and Android, and can also be used with Braille lines, in this case it has been tested with a Focus14 line.
A good improvement in the future could be the possibility of downloading sessions in pdf format and allowing attach files.
In general it is very agile for the study allowing access to content to all student profiles.
The dictation of voice would be very practical so we are looking forward to the integration of the Listen All application that will give access to this functionality.

We also include the evaluations that Francisco Trigueros, president of the Deafblind Association of the Valencian Community, has given us about the application.

 

  • Impact and utility: 4 sobre 5(4/5)
    4
    Describe to what extent the functionalities of the product are useful and impact on the improvement of the user's life
  • Usability and accessibility: 5 sobre 5(5/5)
    5
    Possibility of the device to be used, understood and used in equal conditions for any person
  • Design and ergonomics: 4 sobre 5(4/5)
    4
    Assessment of how the design of the technological solution adapts to the person to achieve greater comfort and effectiveness when using it
  • Ease of acquisition: 5 sobre 5(5/5)
    5
    It refers to the possibilities of accessing and acquiring a technological solution by the user

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