Talking Vision preview: accessible telecommunication products

26 August 2021

Nowadays it’s surprisingly common to have accessibility options built in to your smartphone or tablet.

But that doesn’t mean they’re accessible for all.

In this week’s Talking Vision, host Sam Colley spoke with Wayne Hawkins from the Accessible Telecoms project.

Blind himself, Wayne understands the need to keep a variety of affordable and accessible telecommunication products on the market but more importantly, people deserve the right information to make a decision.

“It’s difficult for people to know which product is the one that suits them best for their specific access needs,” he said.

For someone who is blind or has low vision, Wayne said finding a phone that has good text to speech or screen reader software inbuilt would be important.

“I want to be able to tell if the battery level is low, I wouldn’t be so interested in if it has good colour contrast.”

The devices search option on the Accessible Telecoms website is a way to refine someone’s search to make sure their options are accessible to their needs so they can make an informed decision.

It doesn’t recommend one or the other, it just narrows the options: from the weight of a device for someone with mobility issues, or the size of the keypad or if it is a touch screen.

“You can refine the search by price as well,” Wayne said.

“Not everyone is going to want a $1600 iPhone.”

On top of its search options, Accessible Telecoms also offers training on how to use the devices for different needs and abilities. 

For more broad technology advice and training from a blind and low vision perspective, Vision Australia’s Assistive Technology team is available in-person and over the phone. Call 1300 84 74 66 (and ask for the AT Helpdesk), or send an email at athelp@visionaustralia.org

Talking Vision is a weekly discussion of issues relating to blindness and low vision.

It includes stories of inspiration and achievement and information on services for the community.

Tell us your story by emailing talkingvision@visionaustralia.org