Joining the Cell Phone Generation

At times it seems as though I’m one of the last to actually own a cell phone. In fact of my immediate circle of friends and family I know I am absolutely the last one to have a cell phone.


I’ve dabbled in owning a cell phone a time or two in the past. My first attempt was back around 2000 when cell phones were really just portable telephones. More recently about 30 months ago I tried a couple different phones that were supposed to have a limited amount of accessibility but quickly grew frustrated when many of the functions on the phones I wanted to use did not work correctly.


Since then I’ve watched the complexity of cell phones grow and grow in terms of what the units can actually do. I’ve also watched the accessibility solutions improve and grow in number.


The American Foundation for the Blind
reviewed two of the most current screen readers for cell phones not too long ago. They also have a second review that goes beyond some of the basics.


I opted for Code Factory’s
Mobile Speaks Smart Phone version because the phone I settled on (Samsung’s Blackjack) runs Windows Mobile. Anyone who knows me will tell you that when it comes to gadgets I tend to be picky. I’m someone who’s willing, perhaps too willing at times, to make liberal use of return policies if I’m not happy with a product.


After 30 days of using the Blackjack Mobile Speaks combination I can say that I’m favorably impressed. By and large everything I’ve wanted to do with the phone has worked. This has included the basics like making and receiving calls with associated functions such as reading call duration, notification of caller ID details and reviewing call history. The more advanced functions such as sending and receiving text messages, browsing the internet and using various other applications such as e-mail, a calendar and more have also worked well. Finally I’ve been able to use all the settings and configuration options on the phone to adjust things to my liking.


Screen reading on the PC this is definitely not. You have a very limited set of commands for most of the basics including read character, word, full window and such. That said it has proven enough to get the job done and the folks at Code Factory thus far have seemed responsive to issues. In the 30 days I’ve been using the software they’ve had one update already that addressed some of the issues I found were not working when I first tried the combination.


Accessibility here is not cheap. There have been many different discussions over the years about how much we should have to pay versus what should be built into the technology we want to use. Perhaps I’ll share more of my opinions on that topic at a future date. What I will say is that the $299 I just spent for the Smart Phone version of Mobile Speaks seems like a reasonable price for what the software does and the relative market size where the product is being sold.

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