How Visually Impaired Persons Use Smartphone?

Author : Somasundaram R

How Visually Impaired Persons Use Smartphone

A normal person uses a smartphone nearly 8 to 10 hours per day. The usage of smartphone reduces many complicated tasks in terms of communication, meeting, and sharing daily activities for a normally sighted person. but, we never minded whether these technologies are helping everyone in the society without any discrimination. Have you ever concerned about, how a visually challenged person uses his smartphone? In this article, we are going to find out How Visually Impaired Persons Use Smartphone?

Whenever a normally sighted person uses a touchscreen smartphone, he will tap the icons or slides a finger across the display in order to make things happen. But, how to do a visually impaired person can access these things. There are many features in our smartphone to give better usability to blinds but whenever we see this option we ask question ourselves that "Why these options are present in this mobile?". luckily, many smartphone manufacturers, app developers, and software developers are incorporated many built-in accessibility features for visually impaired people to get things done.

Voice Recognition or Voice Assistant

If the visually challenged person is a well know person in English. it's easy to use technology like Siri or google kind of voice assistant to get most of the searching and query based operation with the smartphone. now many smartphone companies such as Amazon and Apple come up with localized voice search technologies, which can give better user experience to the native language speakers as well.

Smartphone Screen Magnification

If you have low vision and have used a screen magnifier on a computer, you probably already know everything you need to know about how to use a screen magnifier on a mobile device. If you have never used a computer, don't worry. We will describe how to enable screen magnification on the device of your choice, and provide guidance on how to enlarge text, adjust the color palette, and customize other display settings in order to improve your ability to use a touchscreen device. After reading the section below on screen readers, you may decide you also want to enable your device's built-in screen reader for even greater accessibility.

Smartphone screen readers

How Visually Impaired Persons Use Smartphone

It gives users the option to use a speech-to-text system, which means users talk to the smartphone and their input is interpreted and converted to electronic text. this technology use human-sounding, synthesized voices to read and review the elements displayed on the smartphone touchscreen. smartphone screen readers respond to keyboard commands Here's how it works with a touchscreen.

A smartphone touchscreen is composed of a pane of glass with a thin membrane layered on top. This membrane is smart, just like your phone. For a sighted person, touching a finger to an icon on a smartphone display causes control to be activated. When you use a screen reader, that touch instead causes the device to speak the information located on the display directly beneath your fingertip. Touch the display in different places and you will hear the names of different icons, or snippets of descriptive text.

Accessible Typing on Smartphone

How Visually Impaired Persons Use Smartphone

Most of the smartphones give the feature called 'Accessible Typing' which quite different from normal standard typing. in standard typing technique, touch the screen until you find the character you wish to enter, or swipe your finger and listen as the new character is announced. When you find the key you want, perform a double tap. It's that simple. but in the accessible typing, touch typing mode allows you to find the key you want to enter by either touching the screen or sliding a finger across the onscreen keyboard until your device announces the character you want. At that point simply lift your finger off the screen to enter and voice the character. Then you can return your finger to the screen to locate the next desired character, digit, or punctuation mark.

There are many other gestures that enable users with visual impairments to use a touchscreen phone or tablet, but Apple, Google, and Microsoft use slightly different commands to accomplish the various screen reading functions. Consequently, we will wait and describe touch gestures more thoroughly as we introduce each platform. For now, just know that it is possible to use a touchscreen device with absolutely no vision at all.

Voice Label

How Visually Impaired Persons Use Smartphone

Low vision people also uses NFC(Near Field Communication) tags to distinguish objects of similar shape by attaching labels to them. they can record and assign a voice recording to an NFC tag. The voice recording is played back when you place their phone near the NFC tag.

Tools and Applications for Visually Impaired Persons

Many impaired persons use different free tools and applications that are available in the internet. some of the best smartphone applications are listed below. 

Smartphone Applications for low vision people

Books2burn: Translates text files into audio files (Apple AIFF format) which can later be converted to mp3's or other formats by tools available in the Internet.

Non-Visual Desktop Access (NVDA): A free screen reader to enable blind and vision impaired people to use computers.

System Access To Go: Screen/ Desktop Reader

Georgia phone: GeorgiePhone is a family of apps for blind or low vision people.

Mozbraille: For blind or partially sighted users MozBraille an extension can transform Mozilla or Firefox to an accessible Internet browser.

Thunder: Family of apps for blind or low vision people.

WebAnywhere: WebAnywhere is a web-based screen reader for the web.

Google Now: Send Text without Typing App

BeMyEyes: An app that connects sighted helpers around the world via live video connection to blind and visually impaired people.

Google Talkback: TalkBack is an accessibility service that helps blind and vision-impaired users interact with their devices.

Eyes Free Project: Multiple Apps for Blind

Magnifier Apps: Magnifier apps that are available for download that can be used to turn the iOS device into a magnifier.

Sound Apps: Sounds apps are beneficial to all students but can be especially great for students who are blind or visually impaired.

Vision Apps: IOS Vision Apps

Guide Dots: Provided broader awareness of the world around them for visually impaired by using Facebook, Google Maps and other powerful crowdsourcing technology.

Lechal: Guiding Shoe - A simple and stylish pod to be put in your footwear which connects the app using Bluetooth and uses vibratory or haptic feedback to guide.

Ibrailler: Brailler Notes is an application created for blind people that allows them to write in braille on the iPhone and iPad.

Braille Apps: It allows the IOS device to be turned in to braillewriter or help with the braille code.

Seeing AI

Seeing AI is a free app specially designed application from Microsoft for the low vision community, this research project harnesses the power of Artificial Intelligence to describe people, text, and objects

Short Text - Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera

Documents - Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting

Products - Gives audio beeps to help locate barcodes and then scans them to identify products

Person - Recognizes friends and describes people around you, including their emotions

Scene - An experimental feature to describe the scene around you

Currency - Identify currency bills when paying with cash

Light - Generate an audible tone corresponding to the brightness in your surroundings

Color - Describes the perceived color

Handwriting - Reads the handwritten text

Seeing AI is a Microsoft research project that brings together the power of the cloud and AI to deliver an intelligent app, designed to help visually impaired persons to navigate their day.

Courtesy:  J.R. Bjornson First Visually impaired YouTube Vlogger.

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