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Do you have trouble reading the phonebook or identifying the numbers on your phone's keypad? This page provides information about a number of products and services which can assist people who are blind or have trouble using the phone because of vision problems.

It includes information about the features included in the popular mobile phones using Apple iOS or Android, home phones and services available from telco's and specific services to assist people who have trouble using the telephone because of vision problems.

Apple iOS - iPhones and iPads

Benefits for people who are blind or have trouble viewing the screen. For more information on accessibility features of Apple products, visit the Apple Accessibility page.

VoiceOver

VoiceOver is a screen reader that lets you know what's happening on your Multi-Touch screen — and helps you navigate it — even if you can't see it. Touch the screen to hear what's under your finger, then gesture to control your device. VoiceOver works with a number of useful accessible apps that either come with or can be downloaded to your iPhone or iPad.

Speak Selection

If you have difficulty reading the text on your iPhone or iPad, Speak Selection can help to read your email, web pages, and books to you. Highlight text in any application, tap Speak, and Speak Selection reads the selected text aloud. You can adjust the voice's dialect and speaking rate, and have words highlighted as they're being read.

Siri

Siri, iPhone and iPad speech recognition features can be used to send messages, place phone calls, schedule meetings, set reminders and access the internet. Siri is integrated with VoiceOver, so you can ask Siri to search the internet and hear the results read out loud.

Dictation

Dictation turns your speech to text. Tap the microphone button on the keyboard, speak what you want typed and Dictation will convert your spoken words to text. This is useful for writing texts, emails, notes and reminders.

Zoom

Zoom is a built-in magnifier that can be used to magnify the screen between 105 and 500 per cent. In iOS 8, zoom has filters which can also be applied:

  • Inverted - (similar to the Invert Colours feature available in previous versions of iOS) reverses the colours for added contrast
  • Greyscale -used for removing all colour and replacing with shades of grey
  • Greyscale inverted - similar to inverted but with only shades of greyscale
  • Low light - which dims the screen somewhat for those with light sensitivity

Large Text

Text on the screen can be increased to 56 point.

Invert Colours

Allows for different colour settings to suit different needs.

A number of braille displays can be easily connected and used with the iPhone and iPad.

iOS 8 features 6-dot Braille input through Rotor in VoiceOver

  • API for third party keyboards to be installed and used like Flesky and Swype
  • Speak Screen option with two finger flick
  • New voice of Alex on iPhone 5S and above and any iPad
  • Zoom also now has a magnification window mode that you can apply filters to
  • Video Descriptions are now available, so that if you download content that is Audio Described you can access it
  • Siri now has an always-on listening mode where the user can just say "Hey Siri" to activate the personal assistant. To avoid draining the battery, this mode will only work when the device is plugged into power. This will be helpful to any individual who has difficulty pressing the Home button to activate Siri.

Support

The Apple Accessibility Support Line is a helpline dedicated to assisting iOS users with vision, hearing, motor or learning impairments. It is a 24 hour service which allows you to directly speak with an Apple representative who is trained in providing support using accessibility services. To access this service call 1300 365 083 (local and national telephone rates apply).

Android features

Vision impairment

The Android platform includes a built in text-to-speech engine and a screen reader Android 4.2 OS

  • Magnification feature- triple tap to enter full screen magnification when you enable 'Magnification gestures'
  • Explore by Touch – allows navigation of the screen by touch and interaction with applications running on the phone
  • TalkBack' is Android's screenreader. It can be activated from the power menu
  • With the accessibility focus feature, you can move a cursor between controls to maintain a target for the next action or a source for the next navigation event. You can double tap anywhere to launch the current item with accessibility focus
  • 'Text traversal' in accessibility provides control to move between pages, paragraphs, lines, words or characters
  • TalkBack now supports gestures to trigger actions, navigate applications, and traverse text
  • Android offers full support for braille accessibility services using the BrailleBack app available on Google Play

Google Voice Access app

The Google Voice Access app provides capability to operate Android devices by speech commands. The app is available to download free of charge from Google Play store.

Windows Phone operating system

The following useful accessibility features are available on Windows Phone mobile handsets:

  • Ability to change text size
  • High contrast feature
  • Screen magnification feature
  • Voice recognition
  • Feature to read SMS text messages out loud

As a number of different mobile handset manufacturers use the Android and Windows Phone operating systems on their phones individual handsets may have additional features which may be useful. To find out more about specific handsets the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) website has an easy to use searchable database listing the features of interest for people who are blind or have trouble seeing the screen when using a mobile phone.

Products

Several telco's provide a number of products and services which can help people who are blind or have trouble using the telephone because of low vision, including home phones, mobile phones and service plans.

Telstra

Telstra provides a range of accessible products and services in addition to the Telstra Disability Equipment program. This includes:

  • Telephone and answering machines
  • Fax options
  • Home phone services
  • Mobile phone services

For more information visit Telstra's Disability Equipment program webpage or call 13 22 00.

Mobile phone: Telstra EasyCall 3

Accessible prepaid mobile phone with features including:

  • Big buttons with large numbers
  • Large numbers on screen
  • Audio feedback of numbers being dialled
  • Loud, clear speakerphone
  • Hearing aid compatible
  • A quick access switch to make a call in a hurry
  • Desktop charger included
  • Telstra's 'Blue Tick' -can be used in more locations around Australia

To find out more visit Telstra's pre-paid mobile phones webpage.

Optus

Accessible handsets - Optus offers telephones with features to assist people who have trouble using a standard handset, including a cordless handset with volume control.

For handset information visit the Optus website.

Free Operator Assisted Directory Service

Optus customers with a disability who need assistance to access directory services can call 133 937 (general inquiries option) to apply for a free operator-assisted service.

On the call a customer service rep will ask you a series a questions to ascertain you meet the criteria. Optus Operator Services will then provision your request and, once approved, will contact you to provide you with the directory numbers to use. This free service will allow you to call in, seek directory assistance and be through connected for local, national and international calls. Standard mobile call charges may apply for calls from mobile phones.

For more information, visit Optus’ Disability Services page.

Useful contact information

Organisation

Role

Web Address

Australian Communications and Media Authority

Telecommunications regulator

www.acma.gov.au

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network

Peak telecommunications consumer organisation

www.accan.org.au

Australian Deafblind Council

Advocacy organisation for people who are Deafblind

www.deafblind.org.au

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations

Australian peak organisation representing the disability sector

www.afdo.org.au

Australian Human Rights Commission

Australian Government funded organisation representing and protecting Human Rights

www.humanrights.gov.au

Blind Citizens Australia

Peak advocacy organisation for Australians who are blind or vision impaired

www.bca.org.au

Communications Alliance Ltd

Communications Alliance is the primary telecommunications industry organisation in Australia

www.commsalliance.com.au

Centrelink

Australian Federal Government social security agency

www.centrelink.gov.au

COTA (Council on the Ageing National Office)

Represents interests of older Australians

www.cota.org.au

Carers Australia

Peak organisation for carers

www.carersaustralia.com.au

Vision Australia

Australia's leading blindness service provider

www.visionaustralia.org

Department of Communications

Australian Federal Government Department of Communications

www.communications.gov.au

National Disability Insurance Agency

Implementing Australian Government's National Disability Insurance Scheme

www.ndis.gov.au

Department of Social Services

Australian Federal Government Department of Social Services

www.dss.gov.au

Independent Living Centres Australia (inc)

Provides independent information about assistive technology products through State and Territory offices

www.ilcaustralia.org

JobAccess

Australian Federal Government workplace modifications program for people with disability

www.jobaccess.gov.au

National Disability Services

Peak body for non-government disability service organisations

www.nds.org.au

Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

Fast, free and fair dispute resolution service for small business and residential customers who have a complaint about their telephone or internet service

www.tio.com.au

Women with Disabilities Australia/strong> Peak organisation representing interests of Australian women with disability www.wwda.org.au

Apps for people who are blind or vision impaired

Name

Purpose

Cost

Rating (out of 5)

Trip It

Travel directions

Free

4

Chime

Time by sounds

Free

 

Alarmed

Reminders, timers

Free 4.5

Capti Web Player

Web reader

$2.99

Dragon Dictation

Dictation

Free

3.5

Colour ID Free

Colour identifier

Free

 

Taxi Magic

Taxi service

Free

 

oMoby

Photo identifier

Free

4.5

WeatherBug

Weather information

Free

2

Glucose Buddy

Diabetes helper

Free

 

Rxmind Me

Medicine reminder

Free

4

Evernote

Voice notes

Free

4.5

VM Alert

Video motion

$1.99

N/A

VizWiz

Ask questions

Free

N/A

Feeddler

RSS reader

Free

4.5