A guest post – Are mobile phones materialistic, or a necessity?

Today I have a guest post from an amazing young lady, not only a social media maven but  a BiBs finalist in the Inspire category and a campaigner for disability awareness. Sassy is a Blogger, Facebook user and Tweeter, oh and did I mention she is blind.  Here Sassy explains how she is able to use social media.

Are mobile phones materialistic, or a necessity?

With the boom of technology in the last 10 years alone  smart phones have become the number one product to get, if you haven’t already that is.
Smart phones although still seen as a luxury by some, have now become a necessity, especially for people such as myself.

For those who don’t know, I’m totally blind. I use an iPhone, MacBook, iPad and iPod. I’m not trying to show off or seem flash, I can assure you, it took a long time to save for such items!
But the reason I am mentioning my clear love for Apple products, is not because it’s seen as the coolest gadget, or more expensive luxury, it’s because it enables me to live my life with as much ease and normality as a blind person can manage.

All of the Apple products listed above have specific built in software called Voice-Over. An Apple built-in screen reader that allows me to use technology the way you do.

A screen reader is a text to speech output which speaks the content of a computer display. In Apple’s case it is in-built within every Apple product they sell.. This enables me to navigate my way around my MacBook (what I am using to write this post). I use shortcut keys to navigate, as it would be pretty tricky for a blind person to use a mouse, when they cannot see where it is upon the screen.

My iPad is essentially a larger version of my iPhone, so when I talk about my iPhone, it has all the same functions without being able to call like a phone.
My iPhone; being touch screen will read out wherever my finger lands/ touches on the screen. In order for me to interact with my iPhone, and give it commands, I have to use specific gestures.
For example, if I wanted to call my Mum, I would touch the top right-hand corner of my iPhone, and Voice-Over will say contacts (I have my phone set out in a specific way, so this would not be the case for everyone using an iPhone, even if they too are blind).
I would then double tap with 1 finger,or thumb, to be able to open the Contacts app.
I would then touch the very right hand side of the iPhone screen again, where it will announce “Table Index” the A-Z of the phone book.
I have to hold my thumb down for a second or so before the phone announces “Swipe up or down with one finger to adjust the value” And from there I would continuously flick my thumb up towards the top of the iPhone for it to scroll down.

When I reach the correct letter I would then flick right with my thumb to find the contact i’m looking for. I would have to double tap again with one finger, or thumb, to open it.
I would also have to double tap on the number itself to activate the call button.

So why the double tap gesture?
Imagine running your thumb or finger around a touch screen and having your eyes closed whilst doing so, you would potentially open a dozen apps, send a gobbledegook email to your boss. and a smily face to your brother who is sitting right next to you!
Double tapping is so the blind user can navigate around the screen/ phone itself without any worry of doing these things constantly.

So how do I use social media?

If I am on my iPhone, and using the FaceBook App, I use much the same gestures as I mentioned above with a few added extras.

The FaceBook App in my personal opinion is far better, than using the website,
What I mean by this is: screen readers are programmed to read all text aloud to the person navigating. Imagine how long and arduous a process it is to flick constantly for everything a FaceBook status has:
The persons name
Who their audience is
the location it was published
the time it was published
The status itself
If there are any images
reactions to the status; Like, Comment, Share, Announcing one at at a time.

However there are shortcuts to speed this interaction up a little quicker

Thankfully the app cuts out a lot of the waffle and will only read out:
The persons name
The status
If there is an image
Reactions to the status; Like. Comment, Share.
This will be read all at once, and in order.
In order to interact with the status you can do one of 2 options:
Flicking your thumb down to choose an option; Like, React, Comment, Share, More.
By double tapping the screen with 2 fingers and it brings up a list with the same options I’ve listed above.
You can choose to flick right to get to the specific action or drag your finger down the list and use the 1 finger double tap gesture to active it.

What about other social media platforms?

With each social media platforms there are slightly different ways to navigate each app, and each website. The single and double tap features are sill optimised but it depends on each app developer if they include extra functions for screen readers. An example of this is Twitter. If you go to the Twitter settings you can customise a two finger double tap to do one of 4 actions. I chose my action to create a new tweet. It means I don’t have to find the top right hand corner of the screen, and double tap with one finger to create a tweet. It’s things like that, that help me navigate quicker as a screen reader user 🙂

There are so many things my iPhone can do that help keep my life running as smoothly as a blind person bumping into walls and getting lost can be 😉

And social media is just the tip of that gigantic iceberg…
Where would I be without it? Probably rocking in a corner somewhere 😉 but seriously, technology today has given me and other blind and disabled people a lifeline to keep in touch with the outside world, interact with friends and family who live in other parts of the country/ world, and helps make new connections and new friends 🙂

I hope this post was informative? If you have any questions or would like me to explain anything else from a blind persons perspective then feel free to contact me on the following:
Twitter: @SassyPant6
FaceBook: Thinking Out Loud
Google+: Sassy
Email: SassysWorld6@gmail.com
A big thanks to Lolly for allowing me to guest post on her fabulous blog, without my smartphone we wouldn’t have met! 🙂

Much love,
Sassy x

The Pramshed

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  • Brilliant Sassy! Firstly congratulations on making the BiBs finals, I wish you the best of luck with that and I can’t wait to meet you at #BML16. Secondly your post is so informative, I really had no idea about screen readers on devices, they are so clever to allow blind and disabled people to interact via social media and blog. Your post reminds me that I need to update my commenting to allow you to comment. It’s amazing how technology is so advanced to enable this to happen, and as technology keeps on advancing I can only hope it will become easier and easier for blind and disabled people. Thanks so much for joining us at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  • Technology is amazing nowadays isn’t it…even if you have a disability, there is always something there that means you can continue on the same path as others… #fortheloveofblog

  • wow! I would have never known… a post full of really interesting information. Its brilliant the way everything has advanced and is leaving no one behind! great post! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Thanks. I always imagined young people with sight impairment would feel left out of social media but Sassy shows us how it’s possible to join in.

  • What an interesting post and huge well done to Sassy for reaching the BIBS finals. I think we forget how important technology is for people with a disability. Who knew that apple products can even do this much, and I probably only use about 20% of what my iPhone can actually do.

    My in-laws are both deaf and I wish they would embrace technology. We currently use a fax machine (hello 1990) to stay in contact, but just think how easier it would be if they had an iPhone x

    • I couldn’t believe it, Sassy is amazing on social media. It probably seems daunting to older people, an iPad would probably be amazing for them. x