ACCESSIBLE MOBILE COMMUNICATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Author: Toan Hieu Nguyen

Nguyen, Toan Hieu, 2006 ACCESSIBLE MOBILE COMMUNICATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, Flinders University, School of Informatics and Engineering

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Abstract

People with disabilities are both functionally and socially disadvantaged and the lack of access to mobile communication technology adds to their disadvantage. Changes and benefits we have seen in our society with the advent of mobile phones and associated electronic communication for people without disabilities have not migrated to people with disabilities. The comprehensive communication capability of a mobile phone can enable users anywhere to independently access a very wide range of communication, information and control systems and services. This research has addressed the key accessibility issues faced by people with disabilities who need or want to use the mobile phone for voice and data communication. The research revealed that: • there exist accessible features on mobile phones that can better assist people with disabilities in using the phone; • through education and training, people with disabilities can develop or be provided with effective and efficient ways to access and use the phone; • current, off-the-shelf telecommunications equipment such as car kits, speakerphone, voice recognition technology, wireless connectivity capability on mobile phones can enable people with disabilities, even severe physical disabilities, to access the telecommunications network and services; and • with a suitable interfacing system in place, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device users can operate the phone for voice and data communication, which previously had not been possible. Trials established that people with a range of physical disabilities can use and should have equal access to telecommunications equipment and services. This research has shown that, with the right policies, processes and support through equipment matching, education, training and delivery, current off-the-shelf solutions can help people with disabilities to effectively communicate with other members of our society and to access the same range of information systems and services enjoyed by able-bodied members of the community. An interfacing system has been developed to provide users of AAC technology with the ability to use a mobile phone for voice calls and text messaging (SMS). It is confidently predicted that other features and services on the phone such as speakerphone, digital camera and FM radio, email and internet-based applications, and local or remote appliances and devices, can be controlled via the AAC device. Outcomes and findings have confirmed the main hypothesis of the thesis that, despite very limited mobility, speed, accuracy and vocal communication ability, users will be able to successfully operate the mobile phone itself, and use it for various modes of bidirectional communication with systems to which they choose to connect. The overall outcomes of the research have established that the benefits and usefulness of the mobile phone are so significant that they should become a necessity for people with a disability. It has been successfully demonstrated that, with the proper mechanisms and educational programs in place, the provision of accessible mobile phones for people with disabilities can significantly improve their quality of life through increased range of accessible activities, and will improve their independence, engagement with their peers, safety, security and self-esteem.

Keywords: mobile phone,telephone,communication,disability,telecommunications access,independence,Bluetooth,technology,trial,survey questionnaire,focus group,GSM,AT commands,interface
Subject: Engineering thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2006
School: School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics
Supervisor: Professor Andrew Downing