How Do People Affected by Blindness or Impaired Vision use Smartphones and Computers?

Photo of Tali, our dear user uses iPhone

Can you imagine being without your smartphone or computer for a single day? How about for a week, or a month — or the rest of your life?

It’s hard, isn’t it? Most of us have become so used to having a smartphone or computer in our lives, we can’t conceive of our routines without it. And yet, that’s reality for people affected by blindness or impaired vision … isn’t it?

Not at all.

While it’s reasonable to assume restricted sight would make smartphones and computers impossible to use, many people with impaired vision actually benefit from gadgets like everyone else. The process is just a little bit different.

The Power of a Screen Reader

One way you may get around a sight problem is a wonderful program known as a ‘screen reader’.

This is a fantastic accessibility tool that does exactly what you imagine: it reads the information displayed on the user’s screen in an artificial voice. The first screen reader was created by Jim Thatcher at IBM in 1986, though it was for employees only.

They’ve been commercially available on desktop and laptop computers for a long time now, while the majority of smartphones feature them too.

Screen readers empower people affected by sight problems with the freedom to navigate websites, documents and more. While they can’t use a mouse-and-cursor system, they browse pages through keyboard commands instead.

Various web browsers — Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox and more — can all be used in conjunction with screen readers too.

Tactile Reading with Refreshable Braille

Screen readers are one of the most popular accessibility tools for people living with sight loss on various levels today, but refreshable braille is another excellent innovation transforming lives.

This offers an electronic process of reading braille just as you would on paper, only it works in conjunction with screen reader programs. The user holds a keyboard featuring braille pins, which react to the on-screen information and rise high enough for a finger to detect their pattern.

The pins drop into their standard position again when you’re done reading that particular section, ready for the next piece of text to be translated. These are ideal for people affected by sight and hearing loss, or those who prefer the tactile experience of reading braille over audio.

Using Accessibility Tools to Type

People living with blindness or impaired vision can use accessibility features to compose text too.

Synthetic speech will read back certain letters, words or entire chunks of text to ensure you type accurately. This allows you to complete essays, send emails, write fiction and more on numerous devices.

Revolutionary Smartphone Accessibility Tools

Smartphones offer people affected by blindness or impaired vision more freedom to interact with the world around them than computers.

Innovative apps continue to break down barriers and take advantage of cutting-edge technology to aid those without sight. RightHear is one such revolutionary solution, working in tandem with special sensors businesses can install on their premises.

Users receive audio directions to help them navigate even the most unfamiliar indoor environments, providing all the convenience of GPS (and more). They can simply move their smartphone in any direction to receive a clear insight into what lies ahead, warning them of any physical dangers.

This increases safety, restores independence and ensures businesses are as accessible as possible. Hundreds of venues worldwide are compatible with RightHear, including those operated by McDonald’s, GlobusMax, BiG Shopping Centers and more.

Want to learn more about RightHear? Contact us today!