iPhone The Blind have Equal Access

In 2007 this revolutionary device called the Iphone was introduced. People who were using phones with qwerty keyboards and who were fed up with blackberry, palm, Nokia and the infamous windows mobile platforms flocked to the device. It was the big thing to have an iPhone and still is. But, sadly blind people were once left out as they usually are when companies bring out new products. I’m not whining about this fact it’s just that we are not big enough to make much of an impact without suing or telling a company “nicely” could you make this product accessible, here’s what’s wrong and needs to be fixed and added. So, after the iPhone then came the iPhone 3g, which, you guessed it was still not accessible. Many people wondered how are apple going to put access for blind and low vision into a fully touch screen device?? Well in the later part of 08-09 the iPhone 3gs came. Now sporting accessibility in the form of a screen reader called VoiceOver. A lot of blind people were wondering how is this screen reader going to work with a full touch screen. Going back a few years phones were made accessible by 3rd party software that you had to pay for to have your phone speak to you. It was only available on windows mobile or Nokia’s symbian platform. Well a lot of people went with windows mobile and for good reason, you could sync all your data from your pc to your phone. I for the longest time had a windows mobile device because of this fact and loved it. I even had a Nokia product before then because of the form factor of the phone which was a claim shell. I loved being able to just whip out my phone and write a text message without having to strain my eyes to see what I was doing. Then, I moved up to windows mobile. I loved have a full qwerty keyboard to play with and got so used to having a great keyboard on a windows mobile phone. As I stated above I had that device for a very very long time. Now, I have an iPhone 4. I was very skeptic at first on how the screen reader would work. I did my research and was hesitate to get the phone because I was so used to a tactile phone. I knew about apple products and how good they were, I had a ipod nano 4th gen before it just died on me and I had to throw it away. So, I knew how good and solid they were for sure. I gave in and got the iPhone. I spent a little bit of time learning the screen reader looking at what apple had put up on their website and found help with friends who had there iPhone’s way before I did. Surprising I found myself enjoying this new experience of having just a small phone without a tactile keyboard to go along with it. I enjoyed my new phone and I continue to learn about all it can do and how to use the screen reader in different ways every day.

Apple’s iPhone is becoming the most popular device to have with the blindness community. Everybody that I’ve talked to that has one have had good things to say about it. I’m not saying that there are not some things that need to be changed because there are, but for the most part iPhone 3gs or 4 work great and ancient technology like windows mobile and Symbian will be left behind never able to catch up.

The one thing I do miss though is having a hardware keyboard, there is just nothing like the feeling of having a physical keyboard. Not saying that the virtual qwerty keyboard on the iPhone is bad, it’s just that you can type a lot faster with a hardware keyboard. I haven’t found a hardware keyboard I like yet but I’m still looking. Overall, the iPhone is the best phone in this writer’s opinion for the blind. Why, because it already has the screen reader built into the phone. With other phones you have to purchase software to have your phone talk to you.

Now, I know I’m gonna get emails saying “well, I have an android phone and talkback works for me and it’s free”. Yes, I agree but how well does it work??? The difference between iPhone and Android (one of the main differences) is that you can surf the web with iPhone and do everything without (again) having to buy a 3rd party application that allows you to do so. I am talking about Code Factory’s Mobile Accessibility for Android. I can do everything with my iPhone with the screen reader that is built in and not have to pay for a 3rd party solution. I’m not saying that a MA (Mobile Accessibility) is bad just saying I’m not willing to pay for a 3rd party app when I already have my “eyes free” solution on the phone itself.

So, in conclusion the iPhone is a revolution for the blind. Is it worth the switch you ask. Well, for some people it may be and for others it may not be. I suggest that you go into an apple store and try it for yourself and just see. I’d look at your opinions and really do research. Whether you love apple or hate apple doesn’t matter what matters is what are you going to do with your device and how independent do you want to be when it comes to learning a new phone? Because, let me tell you with Android a lot of people are not going to be able to figure it out. iPhone you’ll get the basics of the device in no time flat. Again do your research and see for yourself as for me, iPhone and never looking back .

Disclaimer: I am not trying to put down other mobile platforms. I am just giving you an idea of how the iPhone has changed my life when it comes to staying in contact with friends and family and also getting work done. I would never say that iPhone is the answer because for some it may not be. But, I truly believe it’s a game changer. I do not claim to be an Apple fan boy nor am I. I just choose the product based  upon how accessible I wanted my phone. I am not bashing Code Factory I think what they have done is great, I just don’t want to spend the extra money for access.

As always thanks for reading,




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One Response to “iPhone The Blind have Equal Access”

  1. safetyandsecuritytips Says:

    As one person who use to give tech support with the occasional JAWS software customer, I do feel for the visibly impaired person out there. Software and hardware for the longest time has really left this segment of the population without technological access to the outside world.

    I do believe the iphone with voice sych, dragon dication and refined screen have give people with impairments more capability than was ever possible.

    I use to dread getting that occasional call from the JAWS customer, because there software was so clunky, and hard to work with, the only brightside of the situation was most of these folks were very grateful for helping them out. Which is not what you see in alot of the sighted community around you.

    So lets hope more apps, apple software, screen readers and other software comes along to help out all of us consumers.

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