Flip phones for the Visually impaired are still relevant!

In a world of Smart devices, one can really become overwhelmed with so many options and learning curves.  Sometimes, though, you just need to make a simple phone call.  With this in mind, I recently had the experience of sorting through cell phone options. My mother had a temporary decrease in vision as a result of some health issues.  This health issue affected her visual acuity, therefore she was unable to see detail and fine print.  During this time, she still needed access to her contacts and to make phone calls.  With this, I quickly decided to make her phone at the time, a TracFone ZTE Cymbal LTE (an Android based touch screen/flip phone) accessible by turning on Talk Back on Android (view post about TalkBack here).  Although the Android version of Talk Back is a viable option for experienced Smart Phone users, my mom’s needs were different.  She was still learning how to use the smart phone portion of her device when her vision was impacted.  This led me to look at other options.  I considered the Nokia 3310 3g retro phone, but it lacked in usable accessibility.  The most I could do was increase the font size to large, but after trying it with her, she was still unable to see the letters, numbers, and icons.  Then I decided to go back to a basic model flip phone.  I purchased the Tracfone ZTE Z233VL.  This was the most accessible option for a basic cell phone user that needed quick access to calls and contact lists.  The video below shows basic steps for accessing voice output options for the Tracfone ZTE Z233VL device.

My mother was ecstatic to finally get a phone that she could use by simply listening to options, making a selection, and pressing talk.  She most likely won’t be texting or using the internet on the device, but at least she has the confidence of basic functionality. 

If you know of any other good accessible flip phones or you have any good functionality tips, please share below!



Posted by VeroniiiicaJan 10, 2018

I went to an event organized by the FCC for assistive technology and there were several cell phones for people with low vision and blindness on display. This included the Lucia phone, Project Ray, the Jitterbug, and a few others. While these are still smartphones to some extent, I recommend checking them out if you’re looking for an easy to use and accessible phone.

Posted by Ericka TinsleyJan 10, 2018

Thanks for the suggestions Veronica!  I have heard of Jitterbug and Lucia, but I need to look into the other company. 

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