#IOS #Accessibility How I use an Apple Watch

So the hashtag #BlindPeopleUsePhones went viral a while back after a meme surfaced showing a person with a white cane using a phone… the narrow minded thought was that if someone could use a phone then they MUST be faking there visual impairment.

Since that happened many many visually impaired people have flooded social media with images and captions of them using there phone.

Also since this happened despite efforts for organisations like RNIB I have heard people say:

Look she’s using her phone

I also had one occasion where a random stranger thought it would be ok to take pictures of me using my phone on the bus… in case your wondering that is NEVER ok!

So how do I use my phone… it’s ok to be confused by the title and the link referring to the Apple Watch I’m lumping the two devices together because how I use them is very similar.

Saying that I’m going to separate the Apple Watch for just one minute.

With the Apple Watch I have purchased the largest size, I need that extra few millimetres to make things as large as possible on screen. I then have the system font set to the largest size possible. The final thing that is ‘different’ is I use the XL digital watch face – meaning I have no complications and this is set to a pale colour to maximise contrast.

Now let’s talk about iOS devices as a whole.

I use a combination of VoiceOver, Zoom, large fonts and Siri to access my phone watch and my ancient Mac at home.

Sounds like a lot… kinda complicated? Well it kinda is!

My vision can change from hour to hour very dramatically… not in a good way.

So I may start my day using just larger fonts and the screen brightness all the way up.

I end my day needing to use voiceover unable to use the screen at all.

As an aside I use Siri voice assistant with voice feedback a lot!

I also have my phone set up to read the screen on command.

For more information on Apples accessibility for visually impaired check out this link.

So yes blind people can use phones, computers, (talking) cash machines and smart watches.



Snow Leapord – What The Media Have Forgotton To Tell

Apple – Mac OS X – Accessibility.

Snow Leopard the latest update to the popular Leopard operating system installed on all modern day Mac computers has got an update, it’s only a little one and mainly focuses around bug fixes, it’s not a complete overhaul of the way the system looks but at less than £30 you would not expect a miracle.

Opinion as I have understood it has been divided, many see snow Leopard as a bit of a waste of money and time, its well documented how it is faster than Leopard (which I have never found slow).

There are a collection of features that have not been spoken about in the public eye that I have seen in any way and that is the updates to the already good accessibility tools.

To put this into context most of the time I use something called Text- To -Speech or more commonly referred to in is easier form of TTS or a Screen Reader. For Mac this is something called Voiceover. Basically a lovely little American man called Alex reads me everything that happens on screen, all the things I would struggle to read. I navigate through different windows and applications with ease and am able to for the majority of my time edit the two websites and one forum which I own and manage solely using this software.

Its hard to explain to a person that has never used TTS but when Apple created Voiceover they took the manual on making TTS engines and threw it off  a plane before passing it through a mulching machine and stamping on its mussy remains. Voiceover is unique anyone can use it straight out of the box, no additional software needed.

A blind person can go along to an Apple store and say ‘I would like a MacBook please’, pay for it  return home open the box and use it straight off. Apple are the only computer and software developer to do this, they are incredibly committed to accessiblity and see there products as the way forward, even the iPhone3G S now has Voiceover and can be used by visually impaired people.

With the Microsoft  counterparts we all know and… hate that is simply not possible, you would have to purchase your laptop then spend an additional £800 on software to make it accessible and then install the software.

Snow Leopard is once again revolutionising the way that blind and partially sighted people use their computers TTS engines have forever relied on the keyboard to allow users to navigate their way around their computer, this is no more.

With Voiceover and Snow Leopard OS X 10.6 users can now not only navigate with the keyboard but also with the touch pad on MacBook’s using gestures. Now that for many people may well be the closest they ever get to using a computer mouse, something that if you have severe visual impairment you are seriously unlikely to ever do!  Voiceover is more powerful and better at handling complex web pages with the new release which will be very welcomed by many as there are certain web pages that Voiceover currently just does not have the power to understand.  For example the webpage I am writing this on right now, Voiceover cannot cope with all the information and the styling of WordPress, which is as much down to the design faults of wordpress as it is to the lack of Voiceover grunt. With increased power I hope that Voiceover will overcome the WordPress accessibility issues, but time will tell.

I must now buy Snow Leopard and quickly.

Alas I am not the only person jumping up and down giggling with technology fuelled excitement whilst drooling slightly at apples accessibility my freelancer friend Lesley Smith has decided to convert to the ways of apple, mostly because of the accessibility features I have just mentioned and a fair amount of persuading from me.

Ovi Store: Nokia Magnifier

Ovi Store: Nokia Magnifier.

I am in awe of this app from Nokia Beta Labs, as the creators name suggests this is a betia version of what I can only discribe as a video magnifier within the Nokia.

Example: Your out shopping and you want to check your reciept to make sure you have not been overcharged, but you cant read the reciept. you whip out your Nokia phone and open the Magnifyer app point your phones camera at whatever you are trying to look at press the ok button and the app automatically zooms in and focuses on the text, simply move your camera from side to side as you read and hey presto!

The app is absolutly fantastic, its the type of simple use of technoligy that can have a huge imapct on those of us with VI, furthermore the features dont stop there, its possible to take a photo of whatever you are viewing in the magnification meaning you can send the images. there is also a built in option of high contrast mode and negative as well as image stabilasion (which I just found irritating).

The application can be downloaded following the simple steps on the link above and below this are screen shots I have taken about 5 minutes ago, its that simple!

(click through thumbnails to see larger image)

Apple iPhone now accessible to those with VI!!!

Apple – Accessibility – iPhone – Vision.

THE  iPhone is now ACCESSIBLE!

I’m utterly stunned and shocked and compleatly over the moon,  Apple have kitted the new iPhone 3GS with a text to speech engine based on the VoiceOver system standard on its Lepord operating system and the latest iPod Nanos.

The system allows users to make full use of the touch screen and gestures without the need to rely on tacktile or visual feedback. (To find out how take a look at the above link.)

It’s utterly amazing and I have in the last 5 minutes gone from an iPhone hater to a lover, now I NEED one.

My mobile phone contract ends very soon and I wanted to get a blackberry but the Text to speech engine for the Blackberry operating system has not been released in the UK yet, which meant I would be restricted to using TALKS as part of a Vodafone UK contract because I cannot afford to purchase the software.

Now its simple I can go with O2, get all the functionality of a Blackberry if not more without the need for additional software or a compromise in the phones capabilities.

BBC NEWS | Text lifeline to help deaf people

BBC NEWS | England | London | Text lifeline to help deaf people.


This is something that particularly intrests me, I have a level one British Sign Language qualification don’t you know, how many partially sighted people do you know that can sign? So anyway partly as a result of this I have a few friends who are hearing impaired so a story like this naturally caught my slightly spazzy eyes.

However what I really wanted to blog about however is that on Friday evening I made my very first 999 call, how exciting is that?

A local wooded area had once again been set on fire, there was a lot of thick black smoke and flames big enough for me to see sat in the front seat of my dad’s car so out came the mobile phone and followed by the fire engine!

So its wonderful that this story all about making it easier for disabled people to contact the emergency services was very interesting.


I’m now officially pissed off!

My mobile phone is dyeing slowly so I have decided to go on contract-its actually going to save me money!

I have chosen my new phone and it is going to arrive tomorrow…I read all the reviews and thought carefully, i couldn’t find anything in the reviews about font size, I assumed it would be OK.

Its a Nokia N73 and a really good phone and I don’t have to pay for it BUT unlike most of the other Nokia phones it is not possible to change the font size!( I have just found out!)


I’m really annoyed, now I have to ether use a magnifying glass, or spend £150 on software so I can see the dam thing, or cancel the contract….. but its a really good deal so I don’t want to do that!

OK so under the DDA do I sue Nokia or Three

(joke I’m not the suing kind)