I’ve been looking for a new phone for a while. I’ve been using Nokias since I was thirteen, but its nearly impossible to get a new phone these days that supports talking software. IPhones have a built-in screenreader called Voiceover, which makes them an extremely popular choice for blind and visually impaired people. There’s no doubt that Apple have done incredible work in this area, and they have to be admired.
I know I could learn to use a phone with a touch screen if I had to, but its something that never really appealed to me. I’m not really interested in phones so much that I want to be able to do everything with it and spend lots of money on it. I like being able to text quickly using a keypad, and the idea of carrying a bluetooth keyboard around along with a phone, and all the other stuff I generally have to bring with me didn’t appeal to me either.
I was curious to hear that Research In Motion (RIM) who make BlackBerry phones had developed the Blackberry Screenreader. It is free software which can be downloaded to work on some of the BlackBerry Curves. I couldn’t find too many reviews online, but after talking to a friend who had seen the phone in action, I decided to take the chance and get one last Thursday.
The BlackBerry Curve 9320 was released in Ireland on 15th June and my cousin bought one that day. I took the easy option and got her to set it up for me and install everything I needed. We downloaded the screenreader from
directly on to the phone and it seemed straightforward, though I’ve heard yu need sighted assistance so can’t be sure that its definitely easy to do if your blind. I was very impressed with the quality of the speech, and with how well the software works. It was released at the beginning of May, and RIM have promised more updates and improvements, but I was expecting it to be a lot worse. Twitter and emails are easy to use on the phone. I haven’t used any aps or BBM yet (starting to sound like my thirteen-year-old nephew now) but everything else seems good. The main problem I’ve had is with the battery life, and I’m not sure if its because of the software or that’s just the way the phone is.
The free BlackBerry screenreader still has a bit to go to be equally as good as Talks or Voiceover, but I like what RIM have done with it so far. Its fantastic for blind people to have the option of a phone that isn’t a touch screen. Not everybody likes them and shouldn’t feel like they are being forced into buying one if they want a smartphone. That’s how I felt until I bought my Blackberry. It was a third of the price of an IPhone and does exactly what I need.
Cheers Research in Motion! 🙂