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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

List of Accessible Cell Phones

By Robert Kingett


Since many blind people don’t know how many accessible cell phones are out there I decided to help my fellow blind community and make a list that will help the blind pick the best cell phone out of all the major carriers that offer an accessible cell phone solution! I will even talk about the cheap small cell phone carriers. Keep in mind that Metro PCS, cricket, and jitterbug do not offer any accessible cell phone solutions.

I'm also going to keep the non tech savvy in mind. This should be fun!

 And so we go! Here's my weird accessible cell phone list!

 Verizon network:

 We all know that Verizon's plans are so steep and so wallet snatching that even my credit card said “to hell with their expensive plans!” but for those who can actually afford everything, meaning text, talk, and web, monthly, then thank god! This is the most accessible cell carrier out there, and will forever be in my book.

 So who gets the top pick in the most accessible cell phone?

 For the tech geeks… the iPhone 4 with data plans. (Very expensive though.)

 For the non tech geeks:

The SAMSUNG HAVEN
$130 online, $250 nearby.
(ATGuys sells this phone)

The Samsung Haven offers the most accessible features, some of which are:

       Talking Caller ID

       Reads out all levels of menu including sub menus

       Reads out incoming text messages as well as reading the letters or digits when sending a text message

       Reads out all information on the contact list

       Reads battery strength, signal strength, time, date and when charging your battery is complete

       Dedicated voice command key

       Name dial

       Reads out missed called information

       Adjustable font size and easy high contrast menus and keys.

       It has a cute interface, sort of like my hair.


There are other cell phones that offer full menu readout and text message readouts on Verizon, and these might be cheaper despite that god awful plan, but trying to find it on the site is hell on earth. Thankfully, you have me here!

LG enV3

Samsung Alias 2

Samsung Flipshot

Samsung Haven


TALKS for Verizon wireless!
Now personally I'm a huge fan of TALKS. TALKS is the best mobile phone screen reader out there…. That's expensive as hell and is way more expensive then the stupid phones listed above.  TALKS for Verizon Wireless, powered by Nuance, converts the displayed text on your wireless device into highly intelligible speech. The TALKS software has audio feedback for writing and reading text messages, emails and notes. Blind and low-vision users can take advantage of most features, including contact directories, caller ID announcement and hearing letters entered into a password field. Users can also control speech volume and rate of speech. 

 TALKS for Verizon Wireless is currently only compatible with the HTC Ozone and Motorola Q9C; only the HTC Ozone can be ordered on verizonwireless.com. The device will arrive with the software already loaded and ready to use out of the box.

 Note: If you currently have a HTC Ozone (without TALKS) and would like to purchase TALKS for Verizon Wireless software, there's a charge of $99.99 that will be added to your account.  To add the software directly, call *611 from your device for further instructions.


Sprint accessible cell phones:

Unfortunately there's only one truly accessible cell phone right out of the box. The bad thing is that it has a non sliding keyboard that's out and open all the time. This can be a bit of an annoyance to those non techs savvy. Below will be info on the only accessible cell phone straight out of the box.

 LG Lotus - this phone, operating on Sprint’s CDMA network, offers several features that make the phone appealing to many blind and visually-impaired users:

Voice Guide- when the Voice Guide feature is turned on, the phone is capable of converting much of the Menu and sub-menus from text-to-speech (i.e., “Talking Menu”) and allowing the user to change settings Text Message Readout- when the Voice Guide feature is activated, this phone will read text messages.

Alpha and Numeric Key Echo- the phone will repeat back to the user either an alpha or numeric key. This allows a blind/visually-impaired user to enter Contact information and respond to text messages. For example, press the “H” key and phone voices “H” or press “8” key and phone says “Eight.”

The phone also provides “Talking Caller ID” and Missed Alerts

Voice dialing including Digit Dial and Name Dial w/ natural command such as “Call Mom’s Mobile”

Phone Status including Time, Date, Battery Level, Service Coverage and Signal Strength

Adjustable Text Size (Small, Medium, Large) unfortunately there's no high contrast options, and the menu items will not increase, sadly.


Motorola iDEN and PowerSource Phones:

Sprint recommends the Motorola i580 and i880 for customers who prefer the Nextel iDEN network. These phones have high-quality speech output for a variety of phone functions including Phone Status, Call History and Caller ID. These phones also have TTS for limited portions of the phone Menu. The phones also include Key Echo, Name Dial, and adjustable text and digit size. There is something that you won’t get with this one however, it can't read text messages.

Sprint PowerSource Phones- For customers with vision loss who enjoy the Walkie-Talkie feature in iDEN phones and the voice and data of CDMA phones, Sprint recommends the ic502, ic602 and ic902 phones. These phones incorporate portions of the TTS software found in the Motorola i580 and i880. You will get only basic menu readout with these types of phones.


AT&T list of accessible cell phones:

 Unfortunately, AT&T has no accessible cell phones right out of the box except for the I Phone, which is quite expensive, ranging from a whopping $354 to $576. I won’t ever buy one, and their plans are awful to boot! However, all their nokia cell phones work with the talks screen reader, but what if you hate talks? They have a few cell phones that work with mobile speak. See below.

 Software solutions:

Mobile Speak
Price. Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier software is billed to a credit card. Mobile Speak $89.00  Mobile Magnifier $89.00

AT&T supported devices:

Current supported devices nclude:

       Nokia Surge™ (6790)

       Nokia E71x

       HP iPAQ Glisten

       Samsung Jack



About both products.

Mobile Speak
 A powerful full-fledged screen reader with an easy-to-learn command structure, intuitive speech feedback in several languages, and Braille support that can be used with or without speech. Unlike other screen readers for mobile phones, Mobile Speak automatically detects information that the blind user should know, just as a sighted user would easily find highlighted items or key areas of the screen at a glance. Supported applications and functions include:

       Speed dial, call lists and contacts

       Text messaging

       Calendar, tasks, notes, and calculator

       Internet browser

       Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

       Voice Recorder, Media Player, voice speed dial and voice command

       Phone/device settings, profiles, alarms, and ringtones

Mobile Speak is offered with a choice of 3 different Text to Speak (TTS) speech engines (Spanish and English speech engines available):

       Fonix - includes 9 voices

       Acapela - choice of voices

       Loquendo - choice of voices

Mobile Magnifier
Mobile Magnifier is a flexible, full-screen magnification application that supports low and high resolution screens and can be used with or without speech feedback. Magnification software is compatible with a wide range of mobile devices. Unique features include:

       Magnification levels from 1.25x to 16x

       Font-smoothing for easier readability

       Three different layouts: full-screen, split and distributed view

       Different color schemes, including inverted color

       Automatic panning and cursor-tracking

       Automatic zoom function that detects areas of interest on the screen


T-Mobile accessible cell phones:

 These phones are only accessible by the mobile speak software. Below will be the list of phones that support the software.

T-Mobile

 HTC HD2, (touch screen)

HTC Touch Pro 2, QWERTY keyboard, Touch screen

HTC Dash 3G,

HTC Shadow,

Nokia E73 Mode. Five-way navigation key. QWERTY keyboard



Boost mobile:

And now we get into the highlight! Boost mobile has NO complete accessible cell phones. The closest one is the SANYO mirror. Here's the things it won’t read.

1.      The web.

2.      Text messages. (Incoming or typing.)

For the geeks.

For the geeks who can master a touch screen, then the Motorola i1 - Android - Nextel/Boost Mobile is right for you and with a few applications! This phone isn't cheap though. It's $300 online, $400 nearby

Virgin mobile.

The most accessible cell phones for this carrier are…

The geeks…

The LG optima’s for $149.99. (Android two.2 touch screen.)

 The best non geek phone that's sort accessible, actually it's only a short stint, is the LG rumor 2. The things that this phone does not have in terms of accessibility are:

1.      Text message readout.

2.      font change

3.      contrast change

4.      Volume of speech change.

It does have a voice guide, but it only does basic menus, and it's quite hard to hear. If you want to buy a virgin mobile phone, but hate android, this is the most accessible, and it isn't even all that accessible.


Straight talk wireless:

The straight talk wireless phone experience is a great one! They have many accessible phones that will work with the talks and mobile speak screen readers. They have many android phones to choose from, and if you already have an IPhone they can put that unlocked IPhone onto their cell network. It’s better to buy the phones straight from the venders though, and, at the time of this writing, straight talk does not have an IPhone for sale. It’s impossible to list all the cell phones that they have because this company is geographically specific. All the cell phones that are android will be accessible, because they run the android software of 2.6. This is the most accessible phones for the android market who cannot afford all the higher rates. Straight talk offers a $45 a month unlimited plan, a $60 unlimited everything national and international, and also other plans. If you do not want to have an android phone, then your best bet would be to check and see if the nokia 6790 is in your area. This phone will work with talks and mobile speak, and it has its own built in accessibility options.

Robert Kingett
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