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How iPhones Help The Blind Navigate Their World

Posted in iPhone, News on 31/01/2013 by Chris Hauk

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When visually impaired folks tell you how great the iPhone is, they’re not just hopping on the bandwagon with the cool kids. The device isn’t the trendy choice for them, some feel it’s their only choice.

The Sun-Sentinel:

Out of the package, there’s nothing you need to see and no setup necessary. Just turn it on. There are GPS apps to help navigate, count currency and detect color. Meanwhile, the iPhone is competing with Braille, and nonprofit workers in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere are offering classes on how to use it.

“I’m not an Apple fanboy,” said Eric Barrette, the technology specialist at the Lighthouse of Broward. Barrette, who himself is legally blind, helps clients learn to navigate all forms of technology.

Barrette is clear on one point: “The iPhone is accessible pretty much out of the box, whereas the Android requires a lot of setup from a person who can see,” he said.

Barrette assisted Rayna Kistler, 35, of Fort Lauderdale one recent afternoon. She couldn’t figure out the way to add contacts, and Siri, Apple’s voice-activated assistant refused to do it for her.

Kistler likes the feature built-in to her iPhone called VoiceOver. It tells users what they’re tapping on the screen. But, a phone that talks has its drawbacks too.

“I’ll be in an elevator and someone will shoot me a text,” Kistler said, “and the whole elevator will hear it.”

A handful of developers have taken on the task of developing apps to assist the sight-impaired.

One such app, LookTel Money Reader, uses the camera to spot currency to save visually impaired people the trouble of asking (and trusting) others. It’s $9.99 in the App Store. [DIRECT LINK]

While the iPhone won’t take the place of being able to read Braille any time in the future, it is still finding it’s way into the tool box of sight-impaired folks around the world.



Chris Hauk

Author

Chris Hauk

MacTrast Senior Editor, and self-described "magnificent bastard," Chris Hauk owns Phoenix Rising Services and writes for everyone's favorite "bad movie" website, Big Bad Drive-In.

His first Apple product was an iPod Classic 5 years ago, and he has since added a MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone, and 2 Apple TVs to his collection.

He lives somewhere in the deep Southern part of America. Yes, he has to pump in both sunshine, and the Internet.

Don't forget to check out Chris' two latest endeavors, as the "Apple Expert" at Answers.com, and his own personal tech blog at chrishauk.com