Struggling to keep up

I've managed to adapt to deteriorating vision as a result of glaucoma for over 20 years and have always used a desktop computer (adapted to a large font) with little difficulty. I also have my beloved Kindle for reading and have managed to stay in touch with my Nokia phone but now my family are urging me to have a smartphone and/or a tablet as I realise I am missing out on the whole world of apps, shared photos and access to information when out and about. Unfortunately, my attempts at using borrowed smartphones to practise on have left me feeling very frustrated and sometimes pathetically reduced to tears! My husband and son just can't understand my difficulty with using a tiny screen keyboard and don't know how to help so have given up - which leaves me feeling even more useless! I'm very willing to learn but where can I find more help/advice with the easiest/most accessible phones/tablets for people like me to use? I just don't have the confidence to ask in a phone shop where I've already found that the assistants are unable to comprehend the difficulties of a partially sighted person. "Well, you can always make the font bigger" seems to be the stock answer to every problem! Is there anyone else out there with low vision and advancing years but who isn't yet ready to give up on technology?

Comments (9)

SteveW's picture

Reply to Angela S by SteveW

You re not alone! I also use my PC for most things- with large print and voice- with a simple phone when I am out and about.
I have tried smartphones and I do use a tablet sometimes, but I find I can do without them- people share photos by emailing them to my PC.
I do know people with no sight who use iPhones happliy, and Synapptic on android phones works for some people.
However, you do need a bit of support trying them out and learning to use them.
Do you have a local Blind society?- they can sometimes help. My local one in Kent is brilliant.
Steve

Angela S's picture

Reply to SteveW by Angela S

Thanks for your reply, Steve. I'm going to try contacting the NNAB (Norfolk & Norwich Association for the Blind) again. I tried a couple of years ago when smartphones were becoming much more common but was told that they didn't get much demand for advice with technology and had nothing in the way of support or teaching! I am still pretty much the youngest person in the glaucoma clinic when I visit so perhaps that is still true but I'll contact them anyway.

Steve Beevers's picture

Reply to Angela S by Steve Beevers

I use iPad and iPhone on a regular basis. I use some vision on the iPad, but rely heavily on VoceOver on the iPhone. I’d be more than happy to give you some tips.

Angela S's picture

Reply to Steve Beevers by Angela S

Thanks for your reply, Steve. Have you ever used anything other than an iPhone/iPad? I just wondered whether you found them the easiest to use from a visual impairment point-of-view or whether you just chose them because they top most of the tables for being the best devices. My husband is trying to get me to use his cast-off Samsung Galaxy phone but my son showed me how to do "voice texting" on his iPhone so perhaps that's the way forward. I might try to get a second hand i-Phone and, if so, would welcome being in touch with you again for tips.

Steve Beevers's picture

Reply to Angela S by Steve Beevers

Hello Angela, I used Windows at work with Zoomtext software. I used several phones in the early days, but find teh iPhone more accessible for me. I am on my second iPad and have not tried other tablets. It is certainly easier to stick with the operating system you are used to.

Neil_S's picture

Reply to Angela S by Neil_S

Hi Angela and welcome to the online discussion boards. Yes agree with SteveW you are not alone. The transition from tactile raised buttons on non smartphones to a smooth interface with a lot more apps, multiple screens and difficulty seeing them in default size can be a challenging one. But there are ways and means of learning to use smartphones. Either by contacting your local sight loss charity to see if they have anyone who can train you or by contacting RNIB. RNIB has several streams of services including a Technology Support Squad in which people can visit you in your own home to talk you through how to use your smartphone or Online today programme which often teaches groups of people. There is also a Technology for Life team who can advise on new and more accessible technology if your device is not appropriate to you. You can access theses services in the usual way through the RNIB helpline on 0303 123 9999
The main options are either enlarging fonts on screen or using an on screen magnifier if you have some remaining sight. Or you can combine this with using audio spoken output which tells you what you are touching on the screen or reads back text,

Angela S's picture

Reply to Neil_S by Angela S

Thanks for your reply, Neil. The RNIB Technology Support team sounds wonderful. I'll perhaps make an initial enquiry to see what help is available. I've always been a bit reticent about contacting the RNIB for support because I do, thank goodness, still have a fair amount of useful sight - in one eye at least - and I didn't want to waste anyone's valuable time. But I know that things are not getting any better with my eyes so I'd like to familiarise myself with a smartphone now before my sight gets worse and it's too late to learn.

Neil_S's picture

Reply to Angela S by Neil_S

Go for it. RNIB aims to reach more people with sight loss. As another person described the definition of blindness - it is spectrum from those who are totally blind to those who have some partial Sight.
Within a few months you could be texting better, sending and reading emails or doing other stuff like using recipes or listening to audio books. Best of luck

-InTheWorldOfTheBlind-'s picture

Reply to Neil_S by -InTheWorldOfTheBlind-

I'd definitely encourage you to do so. The word "Blind" doesn't just refer to full Blindness. Perhaps if RNIB had been founded in this Century it might have been called RNIVI.

The few bits and bobs I got from my local council when I became partially sighted were useful.

For instance a symbol cane may have made me feel self-conscious to start with but it was a better option than having people walk into me or bump into them and having them get annoyed at me (I have vision in only one eye so I tend to bump into people on my left sometimes).

For similar reasons the water level indicator was useful, particularly when I lived round my parents (My dad has always liked low-wattage energy saving lightbulbs and was in a rather annoying state of denial about my sight loss - not denial that I'd lost it but denial that he had to do anything about it - so seeing the level with low light and one eye was fairly tricky).

Whatever the level of your sight I'd definitely get in touch with them/