By Phillip Chalker.
Ever since I was first introduced to Apple products back in 2011, my life has changed for the better. When you buy an iPhone, it comes with voice over right out of the box. So, all you need to do is let your fingers do the walking, and your iPhone do the talking. People who are blind or vision impaired say that an iPhone can be expensive – this is not the case for people living in Australia. If you were to add up the price of all the apps that an iPhone comes with, and what you can add to it for a low cost, you would be amazed at how much money you would be saving when buying these devices separate from Blind Agencies.
Can you imagine how hard it would be to carry too many things around and worry about the devices you own getting lost or stolen, just to do what you want them to do? Would you like to make it easier on yourself when studying or going to work? Then carry one device like an iPhone or iPad, which would be less to carry and with voice over turned on you have all these devices in one. Talking Calculator, Calendar and Navigator; voice activated, alarm clock, timer and organiser, plus other third party accessible apps.
The iPhone also comes with a personal assistant named Siri who can help you do a variety of tasks, such as launching an app, timing your meals, setting alarms, reminding you of your next appointment
and lots more. However, the disadvantage of Siri is that she does not work without an internet connection.
If anyone is not aware that Centrelink has a payment called Advance Payment, which is a loan that is available which is paid back with deductions from your Centrelink payment for about 6 months. Once the loan is repaid, you may apply for another. This is a great way to help you get equipment that you need. You can contact Centrelink to find out how much you can get but I usually get the full amount of $800 and if I still cannot afford the device I would either add more to it, or put it away somewhere until you go for another one.
As a community music worker who deals with people’s money, my iPhone helps me in ways that you can’t imagine.
How does it help me? When people pay for my workshops I can use my iPhone to check whether they have given me the right money by using an app named Looktel Money Reader. The voice memo app on my iPhone allows me to record people’s names for a workshop, and then transfer their names or contacts back to the computer when I get home.
I also use my iPhone as a musician to tune my guitar with an app named Talking Tuner by HotPaw Productions. Furthermore, my iPhone also helps me in a workshop to film or take photos for promotional or marketing material.
Having an iPhone can relieve a lot of stress as well. Do you get worried when you want to identify money in your wallet or purse and become concerned about whether people have given you the right change back? If you have been to an important business meeting, and after that hard day of listening to all the lectures and people rambling on, well don’t stress. Just launch the voice memo on your phone and record it and listen to it again on the go in the car or when relaxing, or even burn it to cd.
Do you go shopping and try to explain to the shopping centre staff what product you are after and they have no clue on what you’re talking about? Well why not try an app for your iPhone named Looktal Recogniser? Simply take a photo of the product, and show the staff what you are looking for. This app is also good if you want to recognise the food or products in your cupboard. For example, I take a photo of my seeing eye dogs Frontline flea treatment, wave it around over the products in your cupboard and it will read it out to you.
The use of Smart phones such as Apple iPhones are also allowing people who are blind or vision impaired to live their life independently, allowing them to identify products, objects, and items. Some examples are determining the colours of clothing, providing reminders for when to take medications and doctor’s appointments and also times of meetings. These can be set up on phones manually or with the help of Siri. Siri can also assist with other tasks, such as posting on Facebook or Twitter.
People who use Braille devices to read and write with can also sync their braille devices with their smart phone, such as BrailleNote and BrailleEdge, so users can update their calendars, check their mail, and perform other actions.
Flatbed scanners can be very expensive, and not accessible for people who experience vision impairment, but can receive help from an app named KNFB reader. The app converts printed and written text into speech which can be used in mini environment situations such as schools or work situations. There are also a lot of free or cheap apps that do other tasks such as simple things like magnifying text and pictures on CD covers or DVD covers; used to read recipes and receipts, or read a book or local newspapers. But if people don’t want to use a magnification app then they have a choice to use the settings which are provided under the accessibility settings on smart phones.
Owning an iPhone also allows people to listen to Audio Books and podcast which is download and streamed directly to their Device which they can listen to in their own time at their own leisure.
I also like the Apple iTunes Store and app store because it gives me the opportunity to store all my music, games, movies and more in one area on my iPhone. Having them all in one area on my
iPhone is great because I don’t need to worry about music which has been purchased from a retail store getting scratched or damaged. I also don’t need to worry about having too many storage cabinets to store all movies or CDs on which has also been purchased from a retail store.
The other thing I like about the Apple iPhone and other Apple devices is when having updates for apps or software sent to us automatically because we don’t need to worry about searching around for software on disks just to do an update.