Monday, August 17, 2009

The Accessible iPhone 3GS

The touch screen technology has come a long way since and has certainly created excitement and impact in the area of accessibility, a common talking point among the blind community in this modern technological era. My initial highlighting of this iPhone discussion in a local blind community chat forum has certainly ruffled the feathers of some members of the community who have had mixed reactions. At the pace the access technology innovation is progressing, the skeptics may soon find themselves left behind. However, there are still others, like myself, who have vocally voiced the opinion that, sooner rather than later, this technology would be available to the blind community, and that, like it or not, we will have to adapt to it.
The recent release of the new iPhone 3GS, Apple has released not only the most powerful in its line of iPhone handsets to date, but also the worlds first gesture-based screen reader mobile device, as well as the first screen reader that relies solely on touch screen user input. VoiceOver, first available for the version of OS X that runs on modern Macs, has been integrated with the iPhone with elegance and style
Recently too, I had the opportunity to be among the first few visually impaired persons, to have a first look at this remarkable iPhone 3GS, just a few days after it was launched locally. My first look and personal brief review of the device is as follows:

"I had the opportunity to 'test drive' this latest iPhone today at NCBM, National Council of the Blind, Malaysia. The iPhone was brought in from Singapore by the New Straits Times, NST and together with Moses, Ms. Wong and the NST journalists, the iPhone was the topic of discussion, particularly in the area of accessibility to the blind community.

My personal brief reviews about the iPhone 3GS:

General featureand Physical outlook:

The iPhone has a large screen which covers almost the entire length and width of this palm size phone. The large screen offers the distinct advantage for the 'touch and tap' modes and functions providing greater flexibility/mobility around and about the screen. There is only one key button at the bottom of the screen device, the Home key. However, the advantage of the large screen size has its negative side too. For a person with a small hand or palm, for example, some ladies, to hold such wide bodied phone may not appear to be comfortable.


The moment one touches the screen with the tip of a finger, the response from the screen reader is instantaneous. reading the word, menu list, folder name, etc. Similarly, in learning to use and operate any other newly acquired gadget, one needs to spend time exploring and familiarising the various modes and functions available on the phone. The female synthesized speech did not sound audible or clear at times, particularly certain pronounciation which will not be an issue after some time However, the phone's audio sound quality test drive today was somewhat disappointing, a bit of distortion from its built in speaker. It is simply amazing that one can just use one's finger to touch and activate the various modes and functions, making and answering calls, creating and sending out text messages, surfing the internet, etc.

This phone is a marvellous technological creation. In spite of only having a short and brief 'test drive' of this latest iPhone, I will definitely like to have one once the price becomes more affordable."

Since then, the New Straits Times press has published the full article and I was pleased to learn that there was a video clip on it too. Please follow the link below to read the NST article.

More challenging times ahead!

1 comment:

clarawan said...

Hi Mr Yam, nice reading your post. I'm Clara, I met you in MAB in June when a group of us from FES came to visit the Elderly at MAB. I'm working at Johnson & Johnson. I remember you were saying that your wife works here as well. Hope you are doing well.