I got an interesting response from a reader, who is blind, and who enlightened me about how the iPhone is such a fantastic tool for the visually impaired.
Dear Mr. Soo,
I enjoyed reading your column today, Monday starters.Yes, I do agree that there is no finality to technology and, in this particular case , the rapid everyday technological advances for smartphones. It is certainly `cool' to be seen with a iPhone, Blackberry or any other up-to-date expensive touch screen smartphones today.
You wrote: "The problem with all these fancy gadgets is that we are thrilled initially as we try out everything and anything available. But eventually, we only use a smartphone, well, as a phone.".. Here, I beg to differ and offer my own personal views from a blind person's perspective.
The iPhone 3Gs smartphone, probably, the most accessible smartphone ever developed by Apple to date which I believe, will and/or perhaps, has started enhancing and empowering the independence of many blind/visually impaired citizens around the globe. The iPhone 3Gs is truly an amazing gadget, an assistive communication tool which many blind/visually impaired persons will benefit from the several built in accessible technological features that comes with the smartphone when one takes it out from the box. There is no further need to install a screen reader software, for example, the Talks Nuance software, required to be installed in other smartphones with symbiom operating platforms, before any blind/visually impaired persons could be able to start communicating with others.
I, for one, do not leave home without my iPhone and my white cane!The iPhone, with the built in voice over feature, allows me to make/receive calls, reading text messages, composing/replying text messages, read/reply my emails and surf the internet too whilst having tea/coffee at the many wi-fi eateries or have the 3G network enabled now and then.
There are several apps from the iStore that I could download for free or could be purchased at a nominal price and what is marvellous is, most of the apps are accessible to the blind/visually impaired. At a touch or a flick of my fingers, I too, could easily check the local weather, stock market report, connect to skype and facebook, etc. The iPhone 3Gs has the gesture based features built in, allows me to use the iPhone by tapping my fingers around the phone screen to navigate, scroll and open the links, etc despite the fact there is no physical buttons. The only button is the Home button. Another feature, the built in digital compass, this helps me to check my bearings and orientation now and then. I am searching and looking forward to download a suitable accessible and blind friendly GPS program withlocal maps , walking with turn by turn features that speaks and this will assist me to walk about independently!
BTW, the STAR newspaper is the most accessible local online media!
Cheers and Smiles... YAM Tong WooThank You, Sir.