Earlier this week I had a chat with the wonderful Hazel Dudley; we discussed the Apple iPhone, VoiceOver and mobile applications. Hazel uses her iPhone and a number of different applications on a daily basis, including Facebook, Halifax and the Just Eat app. Hazel is also one of the 4% of registered blind people who cannot see anything at all.
There are around 2 million blind and partially sighted people living in the UK. Every day over 100 people start to lose their sight and 1 in 12 of us will become blind or partially sighted by the time we are 60. Only 4% of people who are registered blind see nothing at all - (Statistics from Vocaleyes)
Visually impaired iPhone users, such as Hazel, can use the built in iPhone screen reader, Voiceover, to navigate around the phone screen and applications. Voiceover gives users the ability to hear and interact with the different elements available on the screen. For more information about Voiceover see the Apple website - Apple website
How does your iPhone help you to view websites and apps?
“In two words: VERY EASILY! Apps are usually much simpler than websites because they are so concise and all those which are accessible with voice-over usually have what you need available straight away; stating plainly where and how to register if that is needed and the result of doing so.
Websites can be different as, having used Safari it is not always as easy, but at least it's convenient. As opposed to using a computer or laptop for example, which will have keystrokes to take you to a certain spot, you seem to have to swipe endlessly across the screen of the iPhone. However, convenience is much more important. One thing which is very useful is to be able to add a website to the home screen as this gives the ability to access your favourite websites quickly.”
“Apps are usually much simpler than websites because they are so concise and all those which are accessible with voice-over usually have what you need available straight away …”
Do you have any favourite applications?
“iPhone Weather app; Google; social networks (Facebook and Twitter); newspapers (Mailonline and Guardian); travel (live trains, tube de lux); shopping (Ocado, Amazon); banking (Santander, Halifax); Just Eat; Pages; Bible; Tap Tap See (describes photos for blind users); CamFind (will tell you colours of items if you cannot see them); Dropbox and Apple Music.”
Tell us about what applications your use in your day to day life?
Hazel took us through her typical day and explained which apps she typically uses on a daily basis:
“Wake up: Look to see what the weather is doing - what's the temperature? Look at Facebook to see what people have been doing and add a post. Read the newspaper to see what's going on in the world.
During the day: check bank to see what's gone in and what's come out. Buy groceries and say when you want them delivered. Listen to Radio Merseyside which I cannot hear unless I use another app, as I live in London, read the Bible which I should do more often.
Television: The wonderful Sky Plus app. Look to see what's on today and if I'm not going to be home, then record it on my Sky box, or alternatively, if I am home, perhaps watch something on there already as I can view the menu of stored programmes on my iPhone. Or maybe play some music using Apple music - just ask for what I want! Check out sports. When is Liverpool's next game? This time I use the LFC app which gives me news, scores and fixtures.
Bedtime: read a book with the wonderful Kindle app.”
“During the day: check bank to see what's gone in and what's come out. Buy groceries and say when you want them delivered.”
Is there anything that could be improved about the iPhone or Voiceover?
“Never say never! There must always be room for improvement, but the voice [Siri] is very good and using the iPhone is very easy. I think my main complaint is that you cannot change the length of the ringtone so if you don't have the phone near at hand you miss a call, but even with that, it's simple to look to see who has rung. One of the things I WISH would ALWAYS happen on the iPhone is that when you need to tick or untick a box it would work.”
Have you had any bad experiences recently when using your iPhone?
“The other day I received an email from LFC to ask if I wanted tickets for our Europa Cup Final in Basel. Well of course I do, but am eligible only to go in the ballot as I haven't attended away games.
So I clicked on to the bit where it told me to, and managed to copy and paste my card number, then, from the website, I had to submit, but couldn't. Nothing happened. I don't know if this is something peculiar to Voiceover or Apple - I suspect the former or they'd have put it right by now.
Also, and this is definitely a Voiceover problem, when there's an update, quite often something silly changes in the pronunciation of words. For example, the big update to IOS 9, and usually you find that it happens with the big ones, the words NOT and KNOW sound the same, unless I write them in caps as I've just done. If I write not and know, they sound exactly the same.”
“…this is definitely a Voiceover problem, when there's an update, quite often something silly changes in the pronunciation of words…”
How do these apps change the way you live?
“Totally. Going to the supermarket for example can be a major deal as not only do you have to navigate your way there, but by the time you've done that and found assistance, are you getting the cheapest deals? Is there anything on offer that you don't know about, or indeed, anything new in which you might be interested? Use the Ocado app and you'll find new offers, offers on your favourites, different categories of items straight from your phone!”
Is there anything you would like your phone or an app to do (but it doesn’t right now)?
“If there is then I haven't thought about it. Take the dog out perhaps? New apps appear all the time and once you start to use them you wonder how ever you lived without them!”
“New apps appear all the time and once you start to use them you wonder how ever you lived without them!”
Below is a video created about Hazel and her guide dog Faith: