Almost nothing about technology in general and cell phones in particular is either obvious or intuitive, especially if you, like me, can’t see. There are very good cell phones that use buttons instead of fingers on the touch screen, but it still takes time to master their use. If you want buttons, you will be missing out on many, if not most things you can do with your iPhone. Even so, a good button phone may be all you’re up to right now. Here’s a suggestion.


Call the folks at Mystic Access: (716) 543-3323 or visit on the Internet. Ask about the BlindShell phone. The phone is completely usable with buttons and comes with an excellent audio tutorial that tells you everything you need to use all of the features on the phone. When you are talking with Chris or Kim, ask about their other tutorials and services. Hint: they can teach you how to use your iPhone.


Back to your iPhone — In the last episode of Blind How, I suggested that you check out the Podcast app. It’s pretty easy to find a podcast or so and start listening. Here though, I need to recommend two more apps that I think are essential for getting started using your iPhone. They are “Safari” and the “App Store.” Safari enables you to search for almost anything you want or want to know. The App Store gives you access to apps for doing most anything you can do or want to do on your iPhone. (Android’s app store is called the Play Store, but also has apps for doing most anything on your Android Phone.)


To open Safari, find the Safari icon on your iPhone. It’s probably on the bottom row of icons. Touch the icon or flick right until voiceover says “Safari.” If your phone makes a clunk sound before you find Safari and you can’t go right any farther, flick left until you hear “Safari.” Now, anywhere on the screen, double tap quickly with one finger. This is the double tap that opens apps or activates virtual buttons anywhere on your phone.


Although you will need to learn how to use the Safari app at some point, here’s a quick way to start. Let Siri search for you. Take a minute to think about what you want to know or do. Put it in the form of a question. Now, just ask Siri. You always start with “Hey Siri,” or by holding down the home or power button until you hear a quick double beep and then letting go. Now ask your question. For example, “How do I use voiceover?” Siri will then either answer your question or display the answer on the screen.


If you activate Siri with the button, ask your question right after you hear the double beep. If you use “Hey Siri,” you don’t do anything except talk. You just say, “Hey Siri, how do I use voiceover?” Siri will then talk to you.


If Siri says “Ok, here’s what I found on the web,” your answer is on the phone’s screen. Touch the screen near the top with one finger. Next, swipe down quickly with two fingers. Voiceover will start at the top and read everything on the screen, including the answer or answers. To stop voiceover from talking, touch the screen with two fingers. You can also move your finger around on the screen to find something that interests you. Once you find it, double tap with one finger. That will cause Safari to open where the information or answer is on the web. Until you learn more about how to use Safari, touch at the top and swipe down with two fingers. Voiceover will read the whole page. That will likely be way more than you want to read, but too much is better than nothing for now.


Now for the App Store – It’s a little like going to the mall. Even if you know what you want, it can be confusing. There is an app called “Wayaround” that is a very cool way of labeling your stuff. I’ll be discussing it in a later episode of Blind How, but for now, let’s see if we can find it in the App Store.


First find the “app store” icon on your iPhone. Now, double tap to open the app. Now find the search icon in the bottom right corner of the screen and double tap on it.


Touch the screen in its upper left corner. Now flick left until you can’t go any farther. Now, flick right until you hear “dictate.” Listen to what voiceover is saying. You first hear “dictate,” and then in a second or so, you are instructed to double tap to start dictation and then double tap with two fingers to stop dictation. The second part is called a hint. You will frequently hear hints when you tap on something on the screen. They usually tell you what to do with the icon or button or what it does.


Double tap with one finger on the dictate button and you hear a sound. Say, “WayAround,” and then double tap with two fingers. The search page will  open, with “Wayaround” already in the search area. Start at the top and flick right until you find the Wayaround app. Since it’s free, you can just double tap the “get” button following the app’s name and it will install on your phone, ready to be used.


The fun part is that you can now open Safari or the App Store and explore. You can explore by moving your finger around the screen or by flicking right or left. You can also use the two-finger swipe down from the top to have the whole screen read to you.


You can also use “Hey Siri” to ask whatever you want to know or do. Sure, that includes asking Siri to open any app on your phone. “Hey Siri, open Safari.” “Hey Siri,  Open the App Store.” “Hey Siri, where can I get a pizza?” Or even better, “Hey Siri, open Podcast.” Why is that even better? You can now double tap “Search,” and enter “Blind How,” where you can then “follow” so you never miss a new episode and can explore the past episodes.