Try using your dear BlackBerry with your eyes closed for a minute and realize how utterly impossible that is. Well, you can probably listen to music and place phone calls, but that’s about it.
We just take our eyesight for granted all the time, and completely forget about all the people who don’t have it. How do they use their cell phones? I suppose placing calls is easy after you get the hang of it, but I really can’t imagine a blind person enjoying all the text-based benefits we enjoy every day. Not without some kind of special aid…
Canadian company Humanware is specialized in helping people with disabilities and has introduced a screen reader for BlackBerry users. It has a pretty good list of features according to the product page:
- Manage instant messaging, emails, SMS and MMS.
- Make and receive calls with access to caller ID on incoming calls.
- Manage contact list.
- Manage your call log.
- Schedule appointments and tasks with alarms and reminders.
- Access to the phone’s settings, ring tones and speed dials.
- Intuitive and familiar audio user interface.
- Easy-to-use customization options for frequently used settings.
- Auto start mode when the device turns on.
- Different verbosity levels to allow users to define the amount of information provided.
- Settings control over the voice rate and pitch.
- Keyboard echo settings for text entry.
- Easy-to-use command structure.
The only bad news is that it is only available for the BlackBerry Curve 8520 from AT&T. Being visually impaired is not difficult enough, you’ll also have to deal with AT&T… I really hope they bring that remarkable product to other carriers and BlackBerry models. Actually, I think this is the kind of thing that should be built-in on every device. RIM, buy their product and make it a stock feature. It is a very, very good idea.