BlackBerry Screenreader

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! 🙂


12 thoughts on “BlackBerry Screenreader

  1. I must say I am impressed with the speech quality on your phone myself and this is coming from an IPhone user. In fact, the speech is very similar to the Voiceover speech on the IPhone that Apple have developed. I don’t subscribe to the Apple cult community so would never say that I wouldn’t refuse to look into a BlackBerry myself in the future. The only thing that doesn’t appeal to me about it from what I have seen of yours is the batter life and you have already mentioned this anyway.

  2. i had a blackberry with the speech i purchased it and got it free because the company messed up and gave me the key before charging me for it. I personally found the blackberry hard to use, The buttons on the blackberry are tiny and even with my small fingers i was forever pressing the wrong buttons, they are also in a strange order. I also had problems with the speaker on my blackberry which are a common problem and they drop out so you end up with the volume of the speech going up and down. I have a iphone with a tactile cover and its fine, there are dots for each letter and some other buttons like enter and back, send and also the dot for the number 5 when you make calls.

    • Terri I’ve never seen one of those Iphone covers. Did you get your blackberry recently? Yeah the buttons are tiny and take a bit of getting used to. How are you anyway?

  3. Very much appreciate you writing about this, Jen. I have had an iPhone for a year-ad-a-half and I am still climbing the uphill learning curve. I, too, am interested in where your friend got that tactile cover…

  4. Funny to read this because my phone is doing silly things at the moment and I’m expecting it to stop working altogether soon (should probably be in a museum by now anyway – i mean the phone, not me , although….). Anyway, i have been having the same questions – i prefer not to have a touchtone, do i just want a basic cheap text and call, or do i want a bit of internet for e-mails. The Blackberry does look as good as anything as far as value for money is concerned. Big problem for me though is i’ve just about learned how to use my old one – would take me 25 years to learn a new one!!

    • haha. I’m sure it wouldn’t take you too long. I still have my very first phone somewhere, a Nokia 3210 its so funny looking at the size and weight of it now. The new samson galaxys are huge though, but they are supposed to be cool looking.

  5. I don’t like the thought of a touch screen myself. The blackbery might be one for me to consider when i next need a new phone. The only thing is my mum has one but hers crashes alot. She has had it for over a year. As for OJs weight, it’s so hard to get it right. I’ve always had a problem with Ushi’s but this time she has lost 400 grams which is great as she kept gaining. Xxx.

    • I hope mine doesn’t crash. It does sometimes but I haven’t updated software thats suppose to fix that problem. That’s great about her weight. It turns out that I could have got away without changing OJ’s food at all, but its done now so there’s no point in going back.

      • Hi, the Iphone has crashed from time to time also. I think that any phone that has to possibly run more software like speech and such like will find itself under pressure from time to time. Things are a lot better though now in terms of years ago.

        John, you won’t know yourself when you update your phone. We will have you tweeting and on facebook yet. 🙂

        Beth, Definitely those Iphone covers can be got in the UK and maybe here also. I can make enquiries for you if you would like.

  6. Hi the covers are like screen protectors with dots and you can get them from would get some one sighted to put it on as you have to line them up correctly with the keys so each dot is on the right one.

    I got the blackberry some time ago..begining of last year? and ended up selling it. I have my iphone 4 on contract with 02 and although at first they are a bit unusual and it takes time but i’ve gotten used to it with the cover and now find it really easy to use.

    I’m good Jen thanks and Uma is her usual hyperactive self! I;m glad Oj and Ushi are losing weight, i’ve never had this problem with Uma thankfully she’s too hyperactive and is normally underweight she should be 34kg but i only manage 33kg or just slightly under that.

  7. Pingback: IPhone | Paws For Thought

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