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 ErickaJan 10, 2018

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

Posted by MarleneMarleneOct 19, 2018

I am very much interested in this subject. I have several friends who wish to find a suitable alternative to the flat screen phone when 3g phones are obsolete. They are totally blind and must rely solely on speech output. The Kyosera Cadence LTE is an option we've explored. However, the users manual is so poorly written that procedures such as navigating menus are nearly impossible to learn. I would like to network with anyone else researching this subject.

Posted by Ericka X.Oct 24, 2018

I would like to connect with you more on this subject. How can I reach you Marlene?

Posted by Marie KennedyDec 30, 2018

I too am looking for a phone ... for my blind mother. She currently has a 5-year-old Verizon flip phone (on my family Verizon plan, $20/mo). It works well for her, but the battery is starting to go so it will need to be replaced, eventually. She opens the phone and it asks what she wants to do, she says, "Call Marie" and it does. That's all she needs it for, easily sending and receiving calls. I've got it set up to announce the caller for incoming calls. But Verizon doesn't have much of a selection these days. Mostly for contractors or guys who need an easy phone. I can't tell what the features are though.
Any ideas folks?

Posted by Ericka XJan 09, 2019

Hello! You can try any of the Tracfone or Jitterbug phones. I am unable to recommend specific ones as there are so many on the market. My suggestion is that you try handsets in-store or look at the owners manual for the device that you are planning to buy. The common features of so many flip phones include Voice output, enlarged on-screen text, and some even have enlarged buttons for dialing. If there is more specific information that you need, please let us know!

Posted by Marie KennedyJan 09, 2019

Yes, I need to see them. She has no vision at all and is elderly, forgetful, so it needs to be fully voice controlled. And have simple commands. I'll stop in a store to see first hand.

Posted by GeraldFeb 28, 2019

If you just want a new batterry..?   goto Aliexpress or google it and put in the battery nu# in the search window.  suguest to choose free shipping only. and it takes about 6 weeks. the last battery I bought was about $6 including shipping and they seem to have batterys you cant get here. I have used this for years. and they dont just sell batterys.   Good luck.
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