LWUIT - Mobile Accessibility

Highlighting some of the AEGIS mobile accessibility work, Oracle presented “Mobile Accessibility with LWUIT” at JavaOne 2011, announcing and demonstrating AEGIS research work that builds accessibility support into LWUIT (Lightweight User Interface Toolkit), which is used to create mobile applications for Java ME. LWUIT has already become a standard for writing Java ME applications, and this research work supports using LWUIT for creating accessible mobile applications for the Java ME platform.

In the context of AEGIS research project following work has been done:

  • Definition of initial accessibility API for Java mobile, largely mirroring the Java SE accessibility API defined in javax.accessibility package;
  • W3C Web Accessibility Initiative's ARIA specification for metadata tags in this mobile accessibility API (e.g. using the ARIA state properties for the the states that UI controls can be in);
  • Accessibility API using a Broker pattern is implemented: providing a separate Broker class that is optionally loaded into the Java mobile runtime alongside the LWUIT application, and which implements the accessibility API on behalf of the LWUIT component;
  • An inter-process communication Accessibility Bus MIDlet that handles event tracking and forwards accessibility API calls from assistive technologies to the application (which then get handled by the Broker);
  • Several "test" assistive technologies: Java mobile versions of the perennial desktop favorites "Ferret" and "Monkey" (as well as their Java Access Bridge counterparts "Java Ferret" and "Java Monkey" for the JavaSE accessibility API): Mobile Ferret can listen for a variety of events, and will show event changes exposing ARIA property names;Mobile Monkey presents a tree view of all of the UI components on the screen, with automatic updates as the screen changes and the ability to provide detailed info on the selected component;
  • A screen reader prototype, which uses cloud-based text-to-speech to voice LWUIT applications for blind users;
  • Development of a set of LWUIT themes for users with vision impairments - including Large Print black on white, Large Print white on black, and Large Print yellow on black (with some white)  - all tested with users with vision impairments.

AEGIS partners contributing to this work include Oracle, CERTH, Fundación Vodafone Spain, and the University Polytechnic Madrid.

For more information, see the JavaOne presentation and see a video showing the prototype screen reader working with the stock "UI Demo" LWUIT application.