Monday, March 9, 2009

Nokia N95

A worried diabetic recently asked me, there is a possibility that she can go blind at some point in her life, how is she going to cope?
Let's look at a series of presents or nice gifts that will make their lives easy. A mobile phone is essential to most people now, so let's start with a big present to boost their happiness.

A note on making mobile phone accessible

Currently, only phones that are on the symbian platform or Microsoft windows mobile operating system are supported by screen reading software that can be installed to make the phone almost totally accessible via speech. if those two terms "symbian and windows mobile" do not mean much to you, don't worry about them and just remember that you need to make sure that the phone you're buying has either on it. naturally you will ask:
  • is Blackberry on it? I have heard that it is being developed, but I don't think it is out yet.

  • Is IPhone adaptable? no, don't even touch a touchscreen! ;)

  • What about Google android? no, I'm afraid that's not supported either.

The Nokia N95

Full specifications is here.
On its own, the Nokia n95 does not have much support for visually impaired people. The only thing you will benefit from having anokia n95 is the music player, which one can use without looking at it. however, with a software installed on it, practically the whole phone is accessible. There are two you can choose from:

The CodeFactory and Nuance web sites boast being able to let a blind person dial, read miss calls, statuses, sms messages and the other basic stuff as highlights, but as you know, that's not how a normal person uses his phone, and a recently turned blind person wouldn't be happy at all if he has to lose the features he used to rely on so much. so let me do a comparason for you on the advance stuff:

 Nuance Talks v3.5CodeFactory Mobile Speak v3.8
Speech ResponseVery good, immediatePoor, slow
Web browsingMostly smooth, can handle graphics well, I can play Backgammon on the phone.Is not able to handle certain elements, bugs are known but not fixed (I contacted CodeFactory for them).
GmailPerfectMissing text
Java supportCannot support thired party java appCannot support third party java app
Speech clearityUses the default voice for Jaws for windows, familiar to most.Uses the voice for Dectalk, I find it less clear
GPS support, Nokia mapsgoodGood

Clearly, I think that Nuance Talks does have a lot of advantages over CodeFactory Mobile Speak. Frankly if anything, speech response and the web are enough to make you choose Talks over Mobile speak.
Lastly though, I'm sure you're concernned about price, aren't you?
Both cost the same (in the UK), they are 150 GBP. That is very expensive, definitely more expensive than most phones since they come free with a contract nowadays. however, if you take a contract from Vodafone UK, you can ask them to install Talks for you for free! Go to their web site and read their disability services. This can be done as long as your phone is still covered, it is counted as a maintenance. best of all, you get to keep Talks and the phone forever afterwards.
If you are in the UK, find some nice contracts here. make sure it's on vodafone.

I hope you find this useful! Next time, I'll look at laptops - how to make them accessible, and what you need to know before you buy your netbook.

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