If I could have only 1 piece of accessibility equipment, hands down I would pick my iPhone. Oh sure, most Americans today couldn’t live without their smartphones. When we find ourselves without our phone we panic and seem to forget how to function. I recently had a friend tell me that her phone had stopped working and due to some confusion with her phone company, she was without a phone for a week. She said she had to shake herself and get a grip because she was feeling anxious when she realized she didn’t have her phone after leaving home. She is in her sixties and she has lived over half her life without a cell phone, she could certainly make it a few days, right?
The single most important accessibility feature on my phone is Voiceover. The iPhone comes with this feature built right into the phone, all you need to do is go to settings and turn it on. With Voiceover on my phone speaks everything to me. What a sighted person sees, I navigate by touch and sound. For example, if I tap the home screen I will hear the name of the first app on the page. If I want to check out the next app I make a swipe to the right and I hear the name of the next app. If I want to open the app I just heard, I give a double tap on the screen and that app opens.
I use my iPhone for all the same things a sighted person uses their iPhone for; phone calls, contact lists, text messaging, email, calendar, social media, games, shopping, recipes, movies and music. I also use apps on my iPhone that help me tell colors, read books, newspapers and magazines and magnify images.
Without the Voiceover options none of the above would be possible for me. I just cannot see the information on the phones screen. Voiceover works with most apps and is definitely a tool that makes me feel less blind.
Over the next several weeks I will be giving more details about how Voiceover works, gestures and feedback. I will also be sharing my favorite apps that work well with Voiceover and make me feel less blind.