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Claiming Accessible Mobiles for Visually Impaired
Most of the mobile phones are not
accessible for peoble with vision loss
The American Foundation for the Blind is reminding the mobile phone industry of its obligations to meet the needs of customers who are blind or visually impaired.
Consumers with vision loss from across the country are expressing frustration and preparing to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which enforces a part of the Federal Communications Act requiring all phones to be made usable for people with disabilities.
Frequent complaints from blind and visually impaired mobile phone customers include:
- mobiles do not provide for audio output of information displayed on the screen;
- the visual displays on most phones are hard to read;
- numeric and control keys are not easy to distinguish by touch; and
- product manuals or phone bills are not available in braille, large print, or other formats they can read.
Right now mobile phone manufacturers and carriers are not taking the law and accessibility seriously, which means the overwhelming majority of phones are not fully usable for people who are blind or have low vision. "Given today's technological advancements-advertised constantly by mobile carriers - it is particularly shameful that access features are not being made available," said Paul Schroeder, VP, Programs and Policy Group at AFB. "Mobile phones are an essential part of modern life, and it's time manufacturers and carriers start providing phones that work for everyone."
With the U.S. population rapidly aging, and the vision loss numbers expected to multiply, mobile phone companies will likely see an increased demand for vision loss-friendly phones. Yet, very few carriers offer phones with features such as large font screens or voice output of menus or text messages.
Some companies have taken the lead on providing accessible phones. But too often the handsets and services are not designed to be user-friendly for those who are blind or visually impaired. “We hope to soon see more accessible phones on the market," added Mr. Schroeder. "It is not just the legal - and right - thing to do, it's also a smart business decision."
REHACARE.de; Source: American Foundation for the Blind
- More about AFB at: www.afb.org