What kind of smartphone should I use?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

*The following is a guest post by Mark Flores of Handi Enterprises. Mark has 17 years of experience in providing adaptive technology and communication devices and is confident that Handi Enterprise can provide solutions to meet your adaptive technology and communication needs.

Many people, including me, say that smart phones are the personal computer of the 21st century.  They are about as common as the Walkman was in the 80s or the pager of the 90s.  Because of these amazing inventions people can now work and play anywhere they choose.  Yes this does include people with disabilities.  As a company we receive several questions a month from our consumers asking, what kind of smart phone they should use.  I am writing this blog post to answer this very question.

One of the 1st things we tell our customers is that their choice of smart phone should depend less on its style or its status symbol and more on their ability to use it.  You can have the slickest looking smart phone on the market but if you cannot physically use it, is just as good as a pet rock.  We like to say that you should look at smart phones just as you would any other type of assistive technology.  This means that doing your research is most important.  Research not all of the plans available although that is important as well; but research about the physical aspects of using the smartphone of your choice.  Ask yourself “how easily can I make a phone call, send an email, this into music, surf the Internet or review media on this phone?”  You should also reconcile your smart phone choice with your physical ability.  Are you going to be able to push the buttons on the phone?  Can you hold the phone?  How difficult is it going to be for you to use the phones operating system?

As a person with a disability wanting to join the smart phone age you should look at your daily life and activities which will help you start to think about what exactly it is you need the smart phone to do.  Are you like me sending hundreds of emails a day?  Or do you just wanted to be able to access your Facebook page?  Is listening to music your main concern?  Answering questions like these and the ones posed above can help you through your journey in selecting one of these amazing phones by helping you narrow your focus, allowing you to be honest about your own ability.  Once you can be that honest you can start to choose a phone that will work and not just one that looks great.

It is important for you as a consumer to know that there have been many advances in the field of assistive technology specifically related to the use of smart phones by people with disabilities.  So even if you do not think that you could ever use a phone there are probably many ways in which you could.  In future blog posts myself and my team here at Handi Enterprises Inc. will discuss some external forms of assistive technology that can help you control smart phones and tablets.  But for the purposes of this blog series I will be discussing some of the amazing advances in adaptive technology specifically through accessibility settings on the phones themselves that could make all the difference in the world for you.  I will be discussing these from my perspective as a user with Cerebral Palsy and as such I will not be able to comment on every accessibility feature on both the Android and Apple systems.  Rather I hope that my experience of 30 days with both of these forms will give you some insight so that you will be able to make your own choice.  I will be rating the features that I do discuss using the following criteria:

1.) Ease-of-use
2.) Responsiveness
3.) Does the product perform as advertised?
4.) How much physical dexterity is required to use the product i.e. can anyone with any disability utilize it?

Stay tuned for next week’s post and I will begin by talking about my experience with the iPhone.

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