For the last two or three years, local blind couple Margaret & Roger Wilson-Hinds from Orton Wistow, have played a part in developing a smartphone program especially for blind and partially-sighted people who are not good with technology. It has been a struggle with lots of false starts but they have now got something which, in their experience, is really good and will run a small trial in April 2015 with funding from the Peterborough BrainWave fund.
The couple who have also created talking computer applications for the blind with their company Screenreader.net, took what they learned about computer applications and developed GeorgiePhone – a family of simple apps (individual programs to install on your phone) for blind people or those with low vision. After downloading, it will transform your existing smartphone into a simple, no nonsense phone with big talking buttons, clear print, simple layout and choice of colour themes. It is far more than a screenreader for smartphones!
“It’s about not being anxious on bus or train journeys. Knowing where you are and what’s near you when you are out walking. Getting directions to your destination and summoning the right help when needed”
What it does
The individual Georgiephone apps allow you to customise your phone to suit your lifestyle and there are many different useful applications such as:
- Speaking which direction you are facing
- Where the nearest bus stop is
- Speaking the bus stops as you approach them
- Safety button to contact your chosen friend if you get into trouble
- Tracking devise so you can be located if you are lost
- Satnav – giving you spoken directions to where you want to get to
- Taking a photo of text you wish to be read back to you
- Sending texts through voice recognition
- Colour detection of basic colours
- Talking tags for items around your home and garden
- Magnify text and objects using the camera zoom facility
- Find nearby pubs, buses, taxis, Dentists, Chemists, cash machines and much more
How it works
Download Georgie Launcher (free) to set up your Android smartphone to look and behave in a new way. The menus can be easily traversed by slowly running the fingers across them while a voice calls out their function, so the phone can be used even if you can’t see at all. Pausing on a menu option automatically causes that function to be selected. Numbers can be called out and dialed in the same way. The display screen has large coloured buttons/words and you can change the size of text, brightness, contrast, speech (on or off), or the way you touch and tap. Please click here to watch a short presentation video on youtube, or here to watch an introduction from the developers Margaret and Roger.
“I can’t stop worrying about my Dad. He has poor sight and hearing. However busy I am, I can keep in touch with him, remind him about pills, appointments and remotely sort out his phone and actually see his face to know he is well. GeorgiePhone has given him the confidence and independence to keep walking about, travelling on the bus and enjoying a fulfilled lifestyle.” Lindsey (Colchester)
Who will benefit from the GeorgiePhone apps?
- Blind and visually impaired people
- People who can’t read and need talking software
- People who can’t manage small buttons and words on a cluttered screen
- People nervous of phones (a friend or carer can manage everything remotely)
- Seniors and older people
- People with other special needs and disabilities
Get involved in a free trial
Getting older and not seeing as well does not mean that you have to be trapped in your own home. If this has become your way of life, why not try it and make up your own mind? The plan is to loan out twenty smartphones for the month of April (2015) and find out how much difference they have made. So, if you want to impress the grandchildren and prove that you are not past it just yet, why not give it a go?
To join the test team, just give Margaret or Roger a ring on 01733 234441 and they will welcome you aboard. But don’t leave it too long or else you will have missed the boat.
Posted March 2015