You are not Member of this Project.
Created Date : Thu, 15/03/2012 - 12:40 Project Description :
Cell phones are great tools for enhancing productivity, providing security, and enhancing lives with better communication. Unfortunately many cell phones prove very difficult to use for those with significant visual impairment or blindness. For such individuals, most touch screen phones make navigation and keypad operation difficult to impossible and even those phones with a good keypad often have menus and navigation that require the ability to read small or indistinct text.
Luckily there are some products on the market and in development that can eliminate some of the barriers. Read further on this page to learn about current and future cell phones for the blind and visually impaired as well as other products that make them accessible.
Screen reading software can be very useful of course in elminating the barrier of having to read text on the screen in order to navigate on a cell phone. It's also handy for reading websites and other information brought up when using the browser.
offers technology that gives the user audio for their contacts, caller ID, text messages, web browsing and more. It even has support for over 20 languages. TALKS works with Symbian phones only. (You can also find other cell phone and tech products for the blind and visually impaired on their site.)
The Sendero Group provides a number of technology products including the KNFB Mobile Reader
which is compatible with Symbian/Nokia phones.
Another option is offered by Code Factory; it's Mobile Speak software as well as TALKS is reviewed in this article
. Mobile Speaks works with Symbian, Windows Mobile Smartphones, and Windows Mobile PocketPC.
Smart Hal by Dolphin
is another of the options for those wanting text to speech capabilities and who have a Windows Mobile Smartphone.
both include KNFB text recognition technology that can allow users to take photos of items such as menus, labels, and much more and then have them read aloud. You can learn more about it's capabilities here
Freedom Scientific is another company that produces products for those with low vision or blindness. Their JAWS
screen reading software is well known.
Some cell phones/smartphones are also emerging with better screen reading software. The iPhone now offers a touchpad that is highly useable along with VoiceOver screen reading. You can learn about one person's experience with it here
Braille keyboards can make accessing a cell phone easier for the blind. The Easy Link 12
allows users to read and write e-mails and text messages and in conjunction with Mobile Speak gives users control over their cell phone. It's small, light weight, and easy to connect with Bluetooth.
is another possibility for using text messaging as well.
Useful Cell Phone Apps For Low Vision and Blind Individuals
There are now a number of cell phone applications offered that can help too. Android for instance offers "Walky Talky" which provides spoken directions, including street names, when an address is typed in and "Intersection Explorer" provides an interactive map that can be navigated and explored on screen before physically attempting to navigate the area. You can learn more about them here.
Current and Future Cell Phones for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Currently, the number of cell phones designed specifically for those who are blind is very limited.Owaysys
has the 22c which is a screen less cell phone that works on GSM networks like AT&T and T-Mobile. It has a speaking interface and easy keyboard with widely spaced buttons.
Work is underway on cell phones that will be more accessible for the blind and visually impaired. For instance, one development will allow the phone to detect and read signs, perhaps in a number of languages. Another development should make dialing a phone, even a touch screen phone much easier. The proposed technology can read the placement of the persons hand and allow them to dial from any point without having to target a particular spot on the keypad to activate a number. This article
from the StarNewsOnline provides the details.
In addition, a company in India has reportedly developed a cell phone for the blind which features a braille keypad. Read more about the Spice
Braille phone here. It launched in India in 2009 and hopefully it, or one of its descendants will be introduced to a larger market in the future. Development of a braille phone that does even more is being examined by Sumit Dagar
and you can here more about it from a speech he made in 2011 at this link.
Another potential development will be the B-Touch
phone which may give blind and visually impaired consumers the ability to use a Braille interface and simple sightless navigation with voice/speech recognition. The proposed phone will even scan and read text as well as recognize objects.
LG has the 8600S which can read books aloud, convert menu items and text messages into speech, dial by name, and more. You can read about it here
Cell Phones for the Blind and Those with Low Vision
These phones offer features like voice commands, voice dialing, and in some instances voice guided GPS directions and voice messaging as well as a keypad.