We have come a long way when it comes to phones. From simple communication devices, to complex do-it-all ones! Today we can surf the internet, click photos, shoot videos, watch movies and what not.
There are however, still a portion of people who simply cannot enjoy any of these things on a phone. Infact for some people a cellular phone of the most basic kind is also not usable. I am talking of the visually impaired people. As phones have become sophisticated, we have forgotten that these people also would like to use a mobile phone. They would also like to be accessible to people whenever wherever, the same way we are.

To address these issues Spice (An Indian manufacturer) had launched a Braille phone specially for the visually impaired people. It is a simple candybar phone. Instead of a screen, the phone has, what appears to be a speaker. IT has larger than normal buttons with the number not only printed but also engraved in braille. This enable a person who cannot see, to dial a number by feeling the numberpad. The phone also voices out each number once it is pressed, and speaks out the entire number before a call is made. Speed dialling is also supported in this device. Now, probably the best part about this is the fact it costs only Rs 980 (USD $20).

Nokia too, has in its own way tied to address this segment, by providing software based solutions. It had, on the 6682, provided an application called ‘TALKS’. This software converts all data on the handset to speech in various language, including emails, text messages, menus etc.

But it seems Nokia has not stopped there, Tech2’s recent article tells us about an initiative by KNFB Reading Technologies and Nokia, where a software developed by the former allows the user to hold the phone in front of the sign or a menu and click a photograph. Once a photo has been clicked, the software reads out what has been written using text-to-speech synthesis to allow the user to understand the content. Tech2 says that “essentially, it’s an OCR system tied to a text-to-speech synthesizer. It’s designed to allow the blind to operate without the need of assistance from a sighted person, in a world that doesn’t always provide Braille.” This software works only on a N82!
I went to the website of KNFB Reading Technologies and I was impressed by what the software could do.

It is indeed praiseworthy what mobile phone manufacturers have done for the visually impaired people. Though a lot more needs to be done still. Alteast a good start has been made. What do you think? Are there any other softwares that allow similar functionality to the visually impaired people?
Leave your views and comments below and let me know.