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Exploring the AT&T Motorola Q9H Keyboard

July 5, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

This is a short article covering how to find all the special keys on the Motorola Q9H phone. It is very much a work in progress. All feedback to editor@blindaccessjournal.com is appreciated. Thanks go to Jeff Bishop’s son Brian for his assistance with several previously “unknown” keys.

Orientation

Place the phone face up with the small QWERTY keyboard on the bottom. In this orientation, you should find the following items in order, from top to bottom:

  • Small round speaker representing the telephone receiver.
  • Large smooth display screen covering approximately three inches of the surface.
  • A set of tactile lines in a cross-like formation, followed by a circle with dots followed by a second set of cross-like lines.
  • The QWERTY keyboard.

Special Keys

The Motorola Q9H has a number of special keys that are not found on the traditional computer’s keyboard. These will be described in reference to the orientation provided above.

Soft Keys

The phone has a number of “soft keys” that perform special functions when pressed. It is important to know how to use these keys in order to do anything useful with the phone. The soft keys are located below the display screen and immediately above the QWERTY keyboard. They are tactilely differentiated using those cross-like sets of lines mentioned earlier. Remember, there is a set of cross-like lines on the left-hand side of the phone, followed by a raised circle with dots followed by another set of cross-like lines. It is critical to understand this configuration, as it is the basis for the following description. There are a total of 8 soft keys. Four of these keys are located on the cross-like structure on the left side of the phone, while the second group of four are located on the cross-like structure on the right side of the phone. For ease of reference, we will refer to the cross lines on the left side as the first quadrant and the cross lines on the right side as the second quadrant. The cross lines themselves are *not* the keys. Pressing on these lines won’t do anything. Instead, these lines help to differentiate the keys. Instead, the keys are immediately to the sides of these lines. The keys are “soft” meaning they are
made up of the phone’s smooth front surface and they may be defined to perform different functions, depending on the situation in which the phone is operating or the software program you are using at the time you press them. Each set of cross lines can be seen as a tactile X-Y graph. There is a soft key in the upper right-hand corner, another in the upper left-hand corner, a third in the lower left-hand corner and a fourth in the lower right-hand corner of the grid.
It should now be possible to fully describe the names and locations of these keys from a blindness perspective.

Let’s start with the first quadrant of cross-like lines, those on the left side of the phone.

  • Dial (Send) – The Dial key is pressed immediately after entering a telephone number in order to complete the call, much as it is on a traditional cell phone. Keep in mind it may also have other functions in different circumstances. The Dial key is located in the lower left-hand corner of the set of cross-like lines in the first quadrant (the left-hand side of the phone).
  • Home – The Home key performs many critical smartphone functions, most essentially for us it represents the MobileSpeak screen reader command key you press before many other keys to issue special accessibility related instructions. The Home key is located in the lower right-hand corner of the set of cross-like lines in the first quadrant (the left-hand side of the phone).
  • Left Soft Key – The Left Soft Key performs different functions depending on the situation. In many cases, it is used as an OK or Done button you may press to confirm that you want changes to be saved, etc. This operates in much the same way as the Continue, OK or Next buttons found in the dialogue boxes of many typical Windows applications. The Left Soft Key is located in the upper right-hand corner of the cross-like lines in the first quadrant (the left-hand side of the phone).
  • AT&T Symbol – This key activates the phone’s built-in default Opera Mobile web browser, pointing it to the AT&T web site. It is located in the upper left-hand corner of the cross-like lines in the first quadrant (the left-hand side of the phone).

We now move on to the second quadrant of cross-like lines; this set is located on the right side of the phone, to the right of the circle with the four tiny tactile dots.

  • Back – The Back key is most often used as its name suggests, to back out of actions you decide not to perform. It operates as a backspace key in any situation where you find yourself editing text, as well as a Back button in the Internet Explorer Mobile web browser. In many cases, it may also be used in a similar way as the Escape key is pressed on a computer’s keyboard to choose a cancel button in a dialogue box. The Back key is located in the lower left-hand corner of the set of cross-like lines in the second quadrant (on the right-hand side of the phone).
  • End – The End (hangup) key is used to do just that, conclude a phone call. If no call is in progress, it moves focus to the Today screen, which is similar to the Desktop on a Windows computer. The End key is located in the lower right-hand corner of the cross-like lines in the second quadrant (on the right-hand side of the phone).
  • Envelope (Mail) Symbol – This key may enable the user to quickly open their e-mail application, though we haven’t noticed that it does anything when pressed on our phones. It is located in the upper right-hand corner of the cross-like lines in the second quadrant (on the right-hand side of the phone).
  • Right Soft Key – The Right Soft Key performs many different functions, depending on the situation or the application you’re using at the moment. In some cases, it operates as a cancel key, while in other cases, it opens a menu. The Right Soft Key is located in the upper left-hand corner of the cross-like lines in the second quadrant (on the right-hand side of the phone).

The Circle

The Circle is a special grouping of five keys located between the first and second sets of cross-like lines. They consist of up, down, left and right arrows and an enter (select) key. Careful exploration will indicate that the circle contains four small, tactile dots. These dots reside on each of the arrow keys, which are located in a logical position representing their direction of navigation. The middle of this circle contains a smaller, slightly raised round key. This is the Enter (select) key. It is used to select choices in menus, as a real enter key when entering text in some scenarios and in many other cases where one might press Enter on a computer’s keyboard.

QWERTY Keyboard

The QWERTY keyboard is a grouping of 37 keys found immediately below the soft keys and the circle. It enables entry of all alphanumeric characters as well as punctuation using a special Function key. The keyboard does not include a numbers row as would be found on a typical computer keyboard. Entry of numbers is described shortly. There is a tactile dot on the f key. Given the compressed nature of this keyboard, it is potentially useful to list out each key by row from top to bottom and left to right, with the first row representing the top of the keyboard, as found immediately below the soft keys and the circle.

  • Row 1: q, w, e, r, t, y, u, i, o, p
  • Row 2: a, s, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, Enter
  • Row 3: Function, z, x, c, v, b, n, m, . (period), Shift (Caps)
  • Row 4: Calendar, Contacts, 0, Space Bar, Music, Camera, Speaker

The space bar is slightly domed and elongated in comparison to the other keys.

Entering Numbers

As we have already observed, the QWERTY keyboard in this phone does not include a separately defined numbers row. This situation is an unfortunate side-effect of the phone’s small size, though we are rather impressed with the keyboard in general given this constraint. Numbers are entered using a specific set of keys, preceeded by the Function key. For instance, pressing Function followed by f would enter the number 5. The keys assigned to numbers are as follows:

  • e, r, t = 1, 2, 3
  • d, f, g = 4, 5, 6
  • X, C, V = 7, 8, 9
  • The number 0 is entered by pressing the Function key followed by the key immediately to the left of the space bar.

Dialing the Phone!

Of course, the most important thing we want to do with our phones right away is to dial. Dialing is performed from the phone’s Today screen using the number keys previously indicated without preceding them with the Function key. When the Today screen has focus, it is assumed that you wish to dial rather than enter text. Follow these steps to place a call:

  1. Press the End key to ensure the Today screen has focus.
  2. Enter the numbers without using the function key. For example, press g, e, e to enter 611, which is usually the number used to contact the service provider.
  3. Press the Dial key to place the call.
  4. The numbers will continue to work without the Function key while you are on the call.
  5. Press the End key to hang up.

Simply press the Dial (Send) key to answer an incoming call.

This document completes the exploration of all the keys found on the front of the Motorola Q9H smartphone. Just as it is critical to know how to type before one can use a computer, it is essential and highly recommended to thoroughly learn the location of all these keys before delving into the use of this phone and MobileSpeak.

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