Android for the visually impaired

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What is Orasi ?

Orasi is a software for the visually impaired, but not blind, allowing to use a certain extent of Android phones with touch screen. Originally, this software is a purely personal development. In fact, I realized this software for my wife, who suffers from Stargardt disease (macula degeneration). This software is adapted to its view in the first place. However, as this software can be used by many others, it is distributed freely on the Play Store.

Orasi, for whom ?

So Orasi is for the visually impaired but not blind. The software has been tested and developed for a visual acuity of at least 1/20th. The purpose of the software is to use most of the phone functions without assistance. However, certain settings and certain uses should be made with a magnifier or computer, as android phones can be synchronized via internet.


Orasi is a software allowing you to manage many tasks on your phone. As such, it requires to have access permissions to your data (contacts, messages, phone, system management ...). From Android 6.0, permissions are no longer requested during installation, but when using the software. Given that these permissions are displayed by the system with small characters visually impaired people can't see, Orasi will ask you most of these permissions at the first launch, so you can get help. However, some permissions may have to be set later.
If you don't allow these permissions, the software will not work properly, and some crashes may occur.

Main screen

The screen is composed of an upper area including various informations, and a lower zone with the icons of the various functions available. In the upper part are the time, the level of battery charge and an icon banner to whether a message has been received, or a call missed. Clicking on one of the parts of this zone activates the pronunciation according to the requested zone (time, battery level...). The bottom part includes the various function icons. This area can be scrolled with your finger to access the icons further down. Finally, the menu button provides access to the application settings.

Menu key

In many functions, the menu key allows you to access options or settings. On new Android devices, this key has disappeared, replaced by a key to manage active applications. However, it is always possible to go to the menu by a long press on the back key. A short press will go back to previous view. On devices with a menu key, this option is also available.
Many options are also available with a long press on some items.

Choice, confirmation and renaming boxes

Within the software, you will be asked to meet several types of boxes and interface allowing a choice or other option.

Choice boxes display multiple icons. Each icon allows an action or launch to another function. At the bottom of that box, you will always find a white cross in a red circle, allowing you to cancel and leave the box without any further action. Indeed, the Back button is not available during the presentation of choice, confirmation or renaming boxes. In these boxes, you will often find an icon for accessing the settings. Another common icon, usually located in the upper right corner, enables repeat of the action which led to the opening of the box. This icon retains its function even if the speech has been disabled before.

The confirmation boxes display a text, an icon in the upper right to read the text, and two icons at the bottom, one to cancel in red and one to confirm in green.

Finally, renaming boxes are same as confirmation boxes, but they allow text editing.

Orasi main functions

The functions available in Orasi are the following :


The favorites are presented as a contact picture, an icon representing the type of number pointed to by the favorite, and the name , eventually changed, of the favorite. A simply press on the contact triggers the call to the number. A long press opens a box allowing several options, including the call to the number, the complete number speech, the deplacement of the favorite to sort your favorites in the desired order, the sending of an SMS to favorite , the renaming and deleting the favorite.


This function presents all the phone contacts in the form of pictures, completed by the contact name. It is possible to select a particular group in the the Contacts feature, or the source of contacts (phone, Gmail, SIM ...) in the Settings feature. All phone contacts are presented as default. A simply press on a contact allows the opening of it. The screen shown then has a small photo of the contact, a reminder of the name, an icon representing the type of data presented on the following screen, and two icons to change the data type. Pressing the icon on the left gives a reminder of the type of data presented (phone numbers, email addresses, postal addresses ...).

Calling the menu allows to access to the create contact feature, outside Orasi.

Pressing one of the data Launches an action depending on what type of data it is. For phone numbers, a call is initiated.

A long press on the name of the contact allows to start editing the contact after a warning, because editing is done outside Orasi. Editing contact can be tedious on a phone screen. Android allows syncing contacts. It is therefore strongly recommended that you create, edit or delete contacts on your computer, accessing Internet via his Gmail account. Using a magnification software for the visually impaired makes managing contacts much more functional this way. However, high-resolution photos must be selected on the phone, once contacts are synchronized. The menu key also allows to delete the contact.

When you display groups, the groups of the use account (or all accounts) which contains contacts are displayed. Empty groups aren't displayed. At the end of the list, you'll find an icon to display all contacts. Group icons are customizable. To do this, long press on the group to customize, then choose the appropriate option. Another option allows to restore the default image.


This function allows the composition of an unlisted number in the directory. When dialing, the number appears at the top of the screen. A single press on this number can reread it vocally. A simply press on the blue cross on the top right of the screen allows to delete the last digit dialed. A long press on the same icon erases completely the dialed number. To initiate the call, press the button on the bottom right of the screen.

Voice mail

This function triggers a call to the voicemail service provider.

Call log

The call log contains the list of dialed, received, or missed calls. A simple press on a call state allows voice spell of the contact name, the type of call (outgoing, incoming ...), the date and time of the call. A long press opens a box containing options for the recall of the number or for sending SMS.


This function allows you to read SMS and MMS. The list of incoming SMS, outgoing SMS, or SMS with error is presented with the name of the corresponding contact, and the date and time of reception or transmission. MMS messages are marked with a blue ball in the lower right of the picture of the contact. By pressing a message, you go on reading this message. For SMS , the icon in the bottom left allows to read the contact's name, and the date and time of writing. The middle icon allows you to change the text size. The right icon allows you to voice play the message. Through the Menu button, you have access to response, transfer, call contact, and access settings functions. For MMS, which may comprise several parts, the left icon allows to switch to the next part. If the displayed part is a text part, the middle icon allows you to change the text size, and the right icon allows you to voice play the message. If the displayed portion is a multimedia part, the right icon allows you to launch an external program according to the content of this section. If the displayed part is a sent contact (vCard), it is decoded and displayed as readable text. The middle icon allows you to add it to your contacts.It is not possible to transfer a MMS because sending this type of message is not supported .

In the main screen of the management of text messages, you can access, through the Menu button, to the ability to go to settings or compose a new message.

The screen for composing a message consists of a text part at the top left and three icons below. The left icon allows you to launch the selection of recipients. The middle icon is used to read the text you have entered, and the right icon allows to send the message. Once the message is sent, the composition window is automatically closed. To open the keyboard, simply tap the text box. Currently, the keyboard is the default keyboard of Android. It is advisable to use speech recognition accessed through this keyboard. You can also use an easier to use alternative keyboard. A suitable keyboard will be a future development.

The screen for selecting recipients allows you to choose a contact from favorites, phone contacts, or by dialing a number. If a contact is added by mistake, a long press on the latter allows you to remove it from the list.


This function starts the built-in phone camera software or the camera application configured by default. The software to take photos being external to Orasi, it may be it hard to use for visually impaired. The ergonomics of the default camera application varies according to handset manufacturers.

Image gallery

This function displays the images in your phone. By default, the display begins on the directories selected by displaying the first image in the folder. A short press on a directory allows the opening of the latter. A long press has the same functionality as using the menu button. In this menu, in addition to access to the application settings, you can select one of three different display modes directories: the first one shows only selected directories. This is the default function. The second displays all directories, regardless of the status of their selection. The third allows the selection of directories to display. In this mode, you can deselect the folders do not display by default.

After selecting the folder to view, the first image is displayed. To move to the next or previous image, you must drag your finger to the right or left. A long press on the image allows to visualize in an external program of your choice.


This function starts the default browser configured on the phone. The default browser usually has zoom capabilities, but not necessarily a function of voice playback. Software for Internet use is external to Orasi.


This function simply allows you to turn the flash on the camera, if the phone has. A new press on this function turns off the light.


This function displays the image of the camera and, on most devices, to change the zoom. The effectiveness of this function depends heavily on hardware capabilities of the phone. Some phones do not have the zoom function, others have a relatively inefficient autofocus responsible of a blurred image. To change the zoom, buttons are available at the bottom of the screen. It is also possible to turn on or off the flash.


This fonction opens a simple calculator allowing the 4 basic operations. To reset the calculation, long press the red C key.


Orasi has an alarm function with 3 different alarms available. For each alarm, you can specify a different time and sound. When the specified time arrives, the alarm is activated. You can either press the green button to delay the alarm for 5 minutes, or press the red button to turn it off. Alarms are only active once. To make it ring the next day, you have to reactivate it.

You also have a stopwatch function, with a Start/Pause button and a reset button.

Finally, you have a timer. Just specify the desired time in hours, minutes and seconds, and start the timer. You can exit the function, an alert will be triggered at the end of the specified time. During this alert, press the orange button to stop the reminder.


This function allows you to call other phone applications without having to exit the application. The function has two levels. The first level displays the favorite applications that you set. The second level, accessed by pressing All apps, list all the applications available on the device. A short press on an application launches the application. A long press on the first level listed in the application can provide several options including moving, to sort the applications in the order you want, and delete the favorite. A long press on an application in the second level displays an options box to essentially create a favorite in the first level.


This option provides access to the application settings. On the first page at the top left, there is speech option. This option allows you to enable or disable speech while using Orasi. Disabling speech does not prevent forcing speech via the appropriate icons in the use of software. The option at the top right allows you to access to Android Accessibility settings. Be careful, you go to settings outside the application which could be hard to use for visually impaired. At the center, the icon allows you to set ring volume (normal, vibrate or mute).

On the line below, three options allow you to enable or disable mobile data, WiFi, and Bluetooth. The icon below allows to set on the Wifi connection sharing. You must set the sharing parameters the first time in the phone settings. Long press on options allows you to acces Android settings for each function. Finally, on the last line, an option allows you to change the theme (two themes are available: a black background and a white background). Bottom right of the page, you have access to the second page of the settings, advanced settings.

Advanced settings

On the Advanced Settings page, the top option allows you to define the sort order and modality of display of contact names. Bellow, you can select a contacts group to use, or let all contacts to be displayed. The bellowed icon allows to select the display mode of the groups icon in the contacts list.

Then you have a button oppening the settings of main screen objects sizes. Each item of the main screen of Orasi can be resized. The screen is made of 3 parts: the top part, with the time and the battery status, the notification part, and main functions set on two columns. With the "+" and "-" buttons, you can size each part.

On the line under the size settings button, the left option allows you to reset the default launcher option. The central one allows you to define the conditions for exiting the software, and the right allows you to access the backup and restoration of favorite contacts. Note that when restoring favorites, they are added to the existing list of favorites.

You then have the options for the call screen. Orasi is able to take control on the standard Android screen on incomming or outgoing screen. This screen allows you to display a large contact photo, to have big and visible buttons to hang off, set speaker... This options isn't activated as default. Indeed, once this option activated, Orasi will take control on each call, even if Orasi is not running. Si you use Orasi occasionnally and not as the default launcher, this behavior can be annoying. The second option gives the way to manage the keypad. Indeed, Orasi can't generate numbers when calling some numbers where you have options to choose with numbers. It's why, when selecting keypad, the default application is called back. To know if you have to activate this option, make tries. Normally, the default interface have to be called and shows the current call. If it's not the case, modify the option.

On the last line, the left option allows you to access help, the central one goes to the application information, and the right one allows you to access the general Android settings. Be careful, here again, you get access to parameters that could be difficult to access for the visually impaired.

Default launcher and widget

Orasi behaves as a launcher, that is to say, a software which you can access via the Home button on the phone. Once the software is installed and launched for the first time, you will see when using the Home button a choice of displaying the default launcher and Orasi. At this level you can set the default launcher to be called without asking you to choose.

If you choose Orasi as default launcher, you can always disable this option via preferences. If you choose not to use Orasi as default launcher, however, you have the ability to access the software with an icon the size of your choice on your desktop by installing the widget via the usual options of Android.

Choice of phone

The choice of phone for the use of such software is not trivial. Indeed, the larger the screen, the greater use will be simplified. However, images are not all enlarged depending on the screen size. Some remain the same size regardless of the screen size, but the fact of having a large screen allows an overview facilitating the use of the software.

The possibility of having a physical Home button, such as on some Samsung, is a greater help.

Control by other software

It is possible to control some actions by sending Intents to the software. This type of advanced use can be used with certain software, such as llama, to automate certain actions without user intervention. The Intent to send is type "Broadcast". It is not necessary to specify the package, but if it is required, use "mss.micromega.pmignard.orasi". The action to take is only defined by the object "Action" of Intent, no further data is needed.

Possible actions are very basic and are :


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