Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Send Text Messages to Your Blind Friends

As a sighted person, you love having the convenience of sending text messages to your sighted friends, but what about your friends who are blind? Is there a way to send them a text message without them purchasing an expensive cell phone with speech?

It is possible for certain cellular phone customers to send a text message to a landline phone. The recipient of such a text message does not need a modified telephone. The text message is automatically converted to an automated voice message through "text to speech" technology. All the recipient must do is listen to the message and respond with a recorded voice message of his or her own.

When a cellular phone customer sends a text message to a landline, he or she must first compose the message using a Short Message Service (SMS) format and then input the ten digit phone number of the recipient's landline phone. The cellular phone service provider will attempt to send the text message to a landline at least three times. If the recipient answers the phone, he or she should hear the automated voice message. If the landline phone is not answered, the message may go to voice mail or an answering machine.

Depending on the cellular provider, customers who have subscribed to the SMS service can send a text message to a landline anywhere in the United States, its territories, and possibly Canada. The text to voice program does not require the recipient to install any special equipment or subscribe to a cellular phone service. The sender usually receives a confirmation message stating that the text message has been successfully delivered to the landline.

While it is possible to send a text message to a landline, it is not generally possible to send a text message from a landline to a cellular phone. The recipient of a text message can sometimes choose from a menu of possible responses and send a voice message, but this voice message will not be converted to text on the cellular phone side.

Standard texting and phone call rates apply when sending a text message to a landline phone, and the phone number must be a recognized landline, not another cellular phone.

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