Apple Store to the Rescue

Posted: Thursday, July 14th, 2016

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By Ron Kihara, Board President

Two years ago, I decided to purchase an iPhone, knowing that “Siri” would help me to phone my contacts. I believed this popular device would take a certain amount of stress out of my life.

I soon discovered that the iPhone was so complicated and advanced that I was not able to master enough skills to use the many options and applications that come with the standard iPhone.

A few months ago, a staff member at the Apple Store, James Krueger, began leading “accessibility” classes for the blind and low vision users of Apple products, including Macs, iPads, and iPhones.

For example, I have now mastered the task of entering new contacts onto my phone, something I had needed assistance from a sighted person to do. Just this capability gives me control and independence I had not previously known.

My low vision friends and I have discovered that we have increased difficulty in navigating around town. Thanks to Mr. Krueger’s instruction, I am now able to ask Siri for walking directions to a particular address, and Siri will tell me how to get to my destination on foot. This is very similar to the GPS instructions for auto drivers, but very useful for those of us who want to maintain our independence in and about our communities.

The Apple iPhones have a feature called “Voice Over” that helps the user to orient him/herself to the phone screen. With practice and increased familiarity, I now find that I have almost the full capability of a sighted person. I listen to news articles, listen as Voice Over reads my email, and have full access to other useful applications.

If you are low vision, and considering the purchase of a “Smart Phone,” please give consideration to an iPhone. The Apple Store Accessibility Classes are provided at no charge to the clients, an important benefit.

I admit that the Apple Store has made me a happy customer, but I am writing this article not to promote their product, but to inform clients of BVIC that this iPhone has added immensely to my ability to remain independent, so important to all of us.