How My Smart Phone Helps Me Navigate the World

iPhone with headphonesBefore I had an iPhone, I had a Samsung Jack. It’s been six years since I had that old phone, but I can vaguely remember the layout — it looked like a Blackberry. The speech software for the Samsung Jack was called Mobile Speak, and it didn’t come with the device. We had to download it separately.

That Samsung Jack got old fast. Mobile Speak froze up a lot, my mom had to constantly re-download it for me, and she finally insisted I get an iPhone.

I didn’t want one. I wasn’t at all happy to hold that first iPhone 4s in my hand. The touch screen was too difficult to maneuver. I had no idea what I was doing.

But, as it goes with almost everything my parents recommend, they were right. The idea –and the feel of the phone — grew on me. Six years later, I can’t imagine life without an iPhone.

A few friends with visual impairments like Android, and they’ve recommended an it to me. I’ve seen how the speech software works on Android, though, and in my opinion, it isn’t as good. I just love Apple now.

After having the iPhone 4s for two years, I upgraded to the 6, and I got 3.5 years out of that one. With Voiceover (the built-in speech software that comes with Apple products), I am able to turn the “screen curtain on.” That is, I can darken the screen completely. To put that into perspective, nothing shows up visually on the screen. It basically looks like the phone is black and I’m playing with a phone that is dead.

And yes, I do sometimes get comments from people around me like, “Umm, I think your phone is dead…there’s nothing on the screen.”

But think about it. The only time I have the visuals show up on the screen is when I need sighted help, and I don’t need sighted help with my iPhone very often. That means the screen is almost always, always dark. And because I don’t use the camera or apps like Snapchat or Instagram, my battery doesn’t drain as quickly and I can get a lot more battery out of my phone.

After 3.5 years with my iPhone 6, though, my phone started to slow down. The battery would start to rapidly drop. Apps would take forever to load. This posed a problem. I have always been someone who’s out and about, especially during the school year. I use my phone A LOT…for everything. Some examples:

  • I use it for things like social media and email.
  • I have a GPS app that I activate when I can’t hear the stops on the train.
  • If I’m going somewhere I’ve never been before, I use Google Maps to look up the mileage to calculate the cab fair.
  • I also use Google Maps to make sure I’m going where I want to go when I’m in a cab.

I’m going on a cruise with my family this summer, and I’ll have my phone off for a week. When I still had that iPhone 6, it being so old, I was afraid it would never turn back on again. So, after the semester ended, I went out to the Apple store to upgrade from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 8. I’ve had it only for a short time, but I already notice a major difference.

First and most important: better battery. As I am writing this blog post, I’ve had it unplugged for almost three hours, and the battery charge is only down to 96 percent. My old iPhone 6 would’ve probably been somewhere in the 60 percent battery range by now. Dictating texts would drain a lot of the iPhone 6 battery, and typing made it even worse. It was a struggle. But now, yes, even when I wake up early in the morning, my new iPhone 8 is still charged. That’s very important: I use my phone to text my friends who like early mornings, too.

My iPhone 6 sounded good, but it wasn’t until I got the 8 and heard Voiceover that I realized how loud I had to have my iPhone 6 turned up to hear it. The speaker on the iPhone 8 seems to have better quality. I can keep my phone at a lower volume and hear it just fine. Another thing I like in the iPhone 8 is the touch ID fingerprint option. It’s a lot faster, which allows me to read texts faster. Very handy when my friend is texting me “I’m here” when they’ve pulled into my driveway.

My old phone took a while to load anything. Or, I’d tap on messages and it would open my music, so I’d have to try again, further delaying reading text messages from friends. My apps load faster, which is good if I need to pull up a GPS.

When I was at the store to buy my new phone, the Apple employee told us that Voiceover was quicker now. I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by that, but now I know. As someone who goes out a lot, I’m happy I don’t have to constantly check my battery to make sure it’ll last. I never realized before how much I truly need a working phone, but I do now: I finally have one that’s functional again!


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  1. Nicole Says:

    Are there any programs to assist with assistive technology if you need an iPhone due to heating and arthritis accommodations as android doesn’t offer the same features ?