It’s time for some serious tech. The skills I’ve discussed so far on Blind How are mostly basic. So what does basic mean?
If you practice the skills I’ve discussed to this point in our journey of doing without seeing, you can get along fairly well in your living environment. You will need additional basic skills, but for the most part, you are good to go. What additional skills you add to your skill set depends on what you want to do. The point here is that you can do much of what you want to do without any serious tech.
For help and tips for doing things around your living area, Hadley (that I discussed in an earlier episode of Blind How) is your friend. Whatever you want to do, give them a call: 1-800-323-4238Mon – Fri8am – 6pm Central. If you have a friend who can use a computer or even a smart phone, have him or her go to Hadley.edu and share what they find there with you. Along with help with cleaning and cooking, they can help with marking appliances and such so you can operate them yourself. It really is true that whatever you want to do, Hadley can probably help.
If reading is your thing, especially if you don’t already use Talking Books or some other library service, audio books and magazines are plentiful, and usually free. Call your local library, tell them that you can’t see, and ask for them to help you with accessing reading resources for the blind.
Now for some serious tech. I wish I could tell you that getting into tech is simple, easy, and free. But it’s not any of those. Getting into serious tech, especially when you can’t see, is fairly complicated, is tedious and frustrating at times, and costs real money.
If that puts you off, keep practicing your basic skills and learning as many new ones as you can. There are many people who are quite content with that level of doing without seeing. There certainly aren’t any rules that say you should get into serious tech. But if you are ready to learn more, and do more for yourself, let’s start with cell phones.
In years past, teching-up for those of us who can’t see was even more complicated than it is now. We needed a separate tech gadget for each thing we wanted to do. This could easily mean that we had to keep track of maybe a dozen gadgets, not to speak of the time and frustration required to figure out how to use each of them.
Times they are changing though. What used to take several gadgets and many hours now requires only one gadget, but unfortunately, still requires many hours of learning and frustration. At least we can carry the only gadget we need in our pocket. Even better, our cell phones can do more, and can do it better than all those gadgets from days past.
I’m an iPhone user, but that’s not the only good choice. Other good choices include Pixel phones from Google and Samsung phones from – well – Samsung. People usually talk about iPhones and Android phones, including those from Google and Samsung. If you get to choose, I think an iPhone is easier to learn and has more learning resources for people who can’t see. On the other hand, Android phones usually cost less and have nearly the same features for those of us who can’t see as iPhones.
It’s true that many Android phones cost less than iPhones, But be careful. Android phones that have the features and quality needed for a good experience for people who can’t see usually cost several hundred dollars, and are not generally less expensive than many iPhones.
Whether you go with iPhone or Android, the important point to know is that neither will help much unless you commit to the time and frustration of learning how to use them. But it only takes a day to get started. The catch is that you have to split the 24-hour day into an hour a day for 24 days. But if you do that, you are likely to be using your cell phone just fine.
There are a couple of points that need attention before we get into the what and how. First, cell phones are little but quite powerful computers. Like any computer, they need instructions in order to do anything. On cell phones, those instructions are called apps.
Different apps instruct the phone to do different things. That’s the magic. There is an app for most anything you might want to do on your phone, from playing blackjack to reading your mail, from checking the news to labeling the cans in your pantry, from helping you go for a walk in your neighborhood to checking your email or watching Netflix. Sure, if you want to make a phone call, there’s an app for that too.
The other point is that your cell phone talks to you. It speaks most anything on the phone screen, and can even tell you a little about what is in a picture. It can actually read your mail aloud, read a recipe or tell you most things that come up on the screen. If you have some vision, you can also change the size and color of print on the screen to make it easier for you to see.
That’s it for this episode of Blind How. I will be going more into what you can do without seeing, with the help of your cell phone and the apps there to help you do what’s important to you.