Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

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Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:40 am

Subject says it all. I have a friend who has 20-30% vision due to Stargardt's disease. We're pooling up some cash to get him a phone. We know about "dumphones" with big keys and large fonts in the display, but we're looking for any valid Android smartphone alternatives, and/or facilitating apps.

Anybody ever came across this particular issue and has any suggestions, phones or Android apps?
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:49 am

It's not Android, but I know Windows Phone 8 brings text resize enhancements and a zoom feature for everything else: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/ianm/archive/20 ... one-8.aspx

Plus, since all of the pinned tiles are resizeable, you can make them all the biggest they can get so he's not squinting to click on app links. If you got him a phone with a big screen (Lumia 920 maybe?) I betcha it'd work great.

Sorry, tried looking for videos and I couldn't find any, but in this situation it sounds like you should go to a few carrier stores and try out some phones yourself regardless of OS.
Last edited by Ryhadar on Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:50 am

I knew a guy who didn't even use the "smart" part of his iPhone, but chose it becausse (at the time) it had the most visible clock...I have a feeling that the way to best way to choose a smartphone in this case will be to put one in his hand and see how it feels.

On the backside of that, what apps are we talking about? Those will be less specific to the platform.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:00 am

superjawes wrote:On the backside of that, what apps are we talking about? Those will be less specific to the platform.

Any Android (or maybe Win8) app that at least lets you zoom in or add big fonts to the essentials bits of the phone - contact list, dial pad and call indicators, possibly messages. Anything else is bonus.

Ryhadar: thanks for that link, that really looks extremely handy! I wonder if Windows Phone 7 has those options too, so we can get one of the more affordable phones.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:17 am

Unfortunately, WP7.5 does not. WP7.8 will bring some improvements from WP8 over to WP7 but I haven't heard anything about text resizing on WPCentral.com or anything (or when WP7.8 will be released for that matter).

*Edit* Forgot to mention that 7.8 will bring over pinned icon resizing though.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:02 am

Just played around with the font size (not global) and magnifying features on my 920 - pretty sweet but the magnifying would take some getting used to (works globally though). Off contract the 920 is $450 which really isn't too expensive considering...
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:37 am

I don't know how far Android has come in recent years, but iOS actually has some pretty decent accessibility options such as low contrast/inverted colours, screen zoom, screen reader style voice over mode, baked in. It can also work with some Bluetooth braille displays.

I know some people who bought one over a dumb phone for those features and actually use them day to day.

http://www.apple.com/accessibility/iphone/vision.html
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:57 am

Are the built-in Android features not adequate? There are several features baked in that might be useful via the Accessibility menu under settings. One of such settings is TalkBack.

When TalkBack is on, your device provides spoken feedback to help blind and low-vision users. For example it describes what you touch, select,
and activate.


Digging into the TalkBack settings, you can have your phone tell you what keys you're typing, can speak when the screen is off, speak caller ID, "touch exploration", and a lot of other settings.

The general Accessibility menu also includes increasing the size of the text to "Large Text", speaking passwords, and text-to-speech output.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:10 pm

Dizik wrote:Are the built-in Android features not adequate? There are several features baked in that might be useful via the Accessibility menu under settings. One of such settings is TalkBack.

In three Droid phones around me, not a single one had any settings under Accessibility. All of them (Android 2.3 and 4.1) asked me if I wanted to download Talkback or another app that I can't remember the name of.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:16 pm

Dizik wrote:Digging into the TalkBack settings, you can have your phone tell you what keys you're typing, can speak when the screen is off, speak caller ID, "touch exploration", and a lot of other settings.

Yeah, so I just tried that on my Razr (Android 4.1)....telling you what you pressed after you pressed it doesn't really help find the key icon in the first place. In the accessibility options, I can enable "large text" which roughly doubles the size of all text and icons. You can also go into display settings to set font size to "Huge" which does basically the same thing. That would be pretty helpful I imagine.
Regarding the dial-pad, my phone's dial pad takes up the entire 4.3" screen, so that's a non-issue.
Besides all that, choosing a plain/colored background that contrasts well with text and icons on the phone is a must. I don't see an "inverted colors" option in my Razr, so if I select a white background, I can barely see my icon labels. Dark/black backgrounds provide good contrast to the white letters though and will reduce battery drain.
Last edited by DPete27 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:25 pm

DPete27 wrote:Yeah, so I just tried that on my Razr (Android 4.1)....telling you what you pressed after you pressed it doesn't really help find the key in the first place. In the accessibility options, I can enable "large text" which roughly doubles the size of all text and icons. You can also go into display settings to set font size to "Huge" which does basically the same thing. That would be pretty helpful I imagine.
Regarding the dial-pad, my phone's dial pad takes up the entire 4.3" screen, so that's a non-issue.
Besides all that, choosing a plain/colored background that contrasts well with text and icons on the phone is a must. I don't see an "inverted colors" option in my Razr, so if I select a white background, I can barely see my icon labels. Dark/black backgrounds provide good contrast to the white letters though and will reduce battery drain.


All of this is good stuff. Same on my Galaxy Nexus.

As far as the colors go, you can download a ROM that blacks out all the backgrounds and stuff. Really easy, should help eyesight, and battery too.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Fri Dec 14, 2012 2:57 pm

One thing that may help is to seek out a reasonably large phone that has an OLED display (such as the Google Galaxy Nexus or even a Samsung Galaxy Note), which will give maximum contrast, and then disable the display autolevel, forcing it to run at a set level of brightness all the time.

This will eventually result in burn-in issues, but for the application that probably isn't a priority.
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Re: Smartphone or app for person with poor eyesight

Postposted on Tue Dec 25, 2012 7:44 pm

The other thing is, if it's rootable, you can always edit the build.prop file, and crank ro.sf.lcd_density up. If it's between 160 and 240 dpi, crank it to 240. If it's at or above 240, but below 320, crank it to 320.

(Other sizes are not recommended, due to Play Store implications - programs disappearing from the Play Store. The only appropriate settings are 120, 160, 240, 320, and your device's factory setting.)
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