Can Cell Phones Be Accessible?

Can Cell Phones Be Accessible?

September 14, 2010 Personal 0

I recently learned of a campaign by the Neil Squire Society to petition the CRTC to get Canadian cell phone providers like Rogers, Bell and Telus to provide at least 1 handset that will meet the needs of people with disabilities. If you would like to know more about this campaign, you can find it here.

This made me very excited because I also have a severe mobility impairment, which limits my ability to use my arms and fingers. As Ayogo‘s  only QA tech, I’m required to test our mobile apps on mobile devices. Due to my disability, I am unable to physically access my phone.

As you can see this negatively affects my ability to be gainfully employed and a contributing member to society. Perhaps even more importantly, I feel that this also negatively affects my safety and the safety of others around me. Cell phones are quickly replacing traditional land line phones and even computers as our primary source of communication. Without access to a cell phone’s most basic features, I’m unable to do something as simple as dial 911.

Currently, I’m able to use computers via a regular USB mouse and I type with an on-screen keyboard. Why is it that there are lots of great adaptive devices for computers, but nothing for cell phones? Sure, devices like the iPhone have features like voice dialing which is great, but it requires you to press and hold the home button to activate it. This makes this “accessibile” feature useless for the people who need it the most. I would like to be able to use my smart phone fully with a pointing device like a bluetooth mouse. I believe this would allow myself and others with mobility impairments to be able to use the device fully (perhaps with the exception of some third party apps that use motion detection). Is there anything currently available on the market like this?

I have looked into this online, and I recently came across this article posted on Mashable It shows a jailbroken iPad that can be operated by a bluetooth mouse…  I understand that the iPad and iPhone run the same OS and according to the website Redmondpie this also works on jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches. If third party developers can make this happen on iPhones, surely it can’t be difficult for their internal developers to do the same? I really do not want to have to jailbreak my phone and risk voiding my warranty, or having Apple brick my phone. I understand that I could possibly use a stylus to control my phone, but due to my limited strength and movement, this would also pose problems.

If there was the ability to connect a pointing device via a cable or bluetooth, it would open doors to many people with physical impairements. This would allow people to use current adaptive devices and the possibility of creating new adaptive devices for operating mobile devices.

Any help or information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. I would be more than willing to help make something like this happen. If you require more information, please let me know. If you have any thoughts and / or information on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.

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