IPhone

I’ve finally given in and bought an IPhone. Many blind and visually impaired people would say I should have done it ages ago, but I was being stubborn, until I saw that there really isn’t a phone available that is as accessible.

I bought the blackberry curve and installed the free screenreader
last June
The phone had a faulty battery and i got a replacement two months later. Overall, I liked the physical appearance of the phone, and the way it worked, but the screenreader still has some issues that caused the phone to freeze any time I needed it to do something online that took a bit longer than using twitter. I would rarely go online or use apps, and I didn’t even consider connecting it to my email account. That would confuse it completely! I sold the phone at the end of January, used my ten year old one for a while, and bought the IPhone 4s at the end of February.

Its true that the IPhone can’t be beat when it comes to accessibility. Apps and emails are easy to use, and everything works without any bother. I did prefer using twitter on the Blackberry and found it much quicker. The bluetooth keyboard is much easier than texting on the phone, but I hope to look at Flexi soon, because I’ve heard good things about it. The phone is definitely slower, and it has taught me to have more patience, but I’m sure things will get faster the longer I have it. The touch screen is less of a learning curve than I expected, but it helped that I was able to look at other people’s phones first. I would advise anybody getting one to try and do this, or just get it and be determined to figure it out. Sometimes the more you ask, and the more you think about getting something, the more you put yourself off it, and that’s what happened to me. When I bought the phone, I wasn’t excited about it at all, but I’m glad I have it now.
For piece of mind, its definitely worth the money, but its still annoying that they are rediculously expensive on pay as you go, and not everyone wants another bill every month, which costs more than they would normally spend on credit.

I’m never going to become one of those Apple crazy people, who constantly talk about the latest app or the latest new thing their phone can do. There’s enough of them out there! Seriously though, for me, its just another thing I use to help me to communicate with people.
I don’t want to dismiss the Blackberry completely. I think Research in Motion are doing fantastic work, and I hope they can continue to improve on what they have done. In the meantime, they are great at replacing broken phones within a short space of time, and that’s one good thing 😀

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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

www.blackberry.com/screenreader

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! 🙂