Smartphones Critical to the Daily Lives of Blind or Visually Impaired People

Smartphone technology has become an unexpectedly vital piece of technology for the sight loss community to not only maintain independence at home and in the world at large, but also to keep up with their sighted peers in the workplace, according to Strategy Analytics. Incorporating haptics and braille in mainstream tablets and smartphones, advancements in battery life and connectivity, and advances in AI, will only serve to make the visual world more accessible for people with sight loss.

The research explores the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired and their relationship with technology. It identifies key design implications with respect to user needs, technology use and pain-points for the sight loss community when using smartphones, traveling or using smart home technologies and appliances.

“Digital Inclusion in the design of smartphones and accessible apps and services have revolutionized how the sight loss community can live and work independently. Now people with sight loss can better access the same services as their peers and can also access services specifically geared towards them,” said report author Lisa Cooper.

“By far the most essential feature in the smartphone is the camera. Used in many different use cases such as magnifying features and navigation, it is also used together with other accessible apps and services, such as AIRA, Seeing AI and Be My Eyes. Apple in particular has provided highly accessible devices in the palm of their hands. Consistency between its ecosystem of devices means that any one of its devices (e.g. iPhone, iPad or Mac) can be used in the same way. Accessibility is built-in,” added Cooper.

To contribute to society, attain independence and gain employment, individuals with sight loss must be able to access technology. Paradoxically these gadgets are often out of their reach financially despite their great need for them. OEMs should do more to help those with such a need to access their own independence more freely.

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