iPhone on Verizon a boon for accessibility

By Curtis Chong

On January 11, Apple and Verizon announced that effective February 10, Apple’s well-known iPhone 4 will be available to Verizon customers.


The iPhone comes with VoiceOver software, making it accessible to blind and visually impaired users.

Among people who are blind or visually impaired, the iPhone is known for its built-in nonvisual access technology, VoiceOver, which is available at no additional cost. While the official announcement does not say whether or not the VoiceOver program will be included with the iPhone 4 on the Verizon network, the odds are good that Apple will not create a stripped down IOS 4 operating system for the Verizon Network that does not include VoiceOver.

Having the iPhone available on what is reputed to be the largest cell phone network (based on number of users) in the United States is terrific news for those of us who have longed to have more accessible cell phones on more networks. 

Now, Verizon customers who are blind or visually impaired have another accessible cell phone to choose from, and they will be able to avail themselves of the unique approaches that Apple has developed to make the touch screen accessible to people who cannot see it.

As for me, I am currently using an accessible cell phone (not the iPhone) on the AT&T network, and aside from the poor reception that I sometimes experience with AT&T, I am fairly happy with what I have.  However, I will be thinking very hard about whether or not it is worth it for me to switch to a better cell phone network now that the iPhone 4 will soon be available on it.

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16 Responses to iPhone on Verizon a boon for accessibility

  1. Feli says:

    Hmm… I didn’t really understand the article… so is the iphone4 going to be compatible to a total blind person like my self? i currently have Verizon and was thinking of getting the iphone4… i’m confused, so is it coming with voice over or not… =( feedback would be great! thanks

    • Curtis Chong says:

      Greetings: The iPhone 4 will indeed come with VoiceOver according to Apple. It will be fully accessible to someone who is totally blind.


      Curtis chong

      • Christi says:

        Hi, my name is Christi, And I’m totally blind and have no vision what so ever. My question is can the Iphone4 be useful for a person like me? I just have a normal basic cell phone, but I wan’t a phone that will do more than just a standard phone. But with the Iphone 4 can it really work with a blind person? Even though it is a touch screen, some people tell me that I wouldn’t be able to work it cause it is a touch screen. But I think we can do anything if wanted to. Sincerely, Christi

  2. Tai Blas says:

    Christi, I am totally blind and use the iPhone for so many things! It is fully accessible to a totally blind person and you can purchase thousands of applications that are also accessible without any vision at all. The thing that takes some getting used to is using a flat touch screen. The built-in screenreader makes it possible for totally blind people to make full use of the touch screen, but it does take some getting used to since there are no physical buttons to push when you interact with it. Please feel free to respond with more questions.

    • Christi says:

      Hi, it’s me Christi again I do have one more question to ask you, where can I purchase my Iphone4? I’m with Verizon right now, so can I go into the actual store, or do I have to go the Apple Store to purchase the full service. Thank you for your time, I will reply back if I have anymore questions. sincerely, Christi

      • Tai Blas says:

        Christi, Verizon stores do carry the iPhone, so you could visit your local store. However, you should call ahead to make sure that they still have them in stock so that your trip to the Verizon store doesn’t end in disappointment. Feel free to contact me with more questions.

    • Christi says:

      Hi My name is Christina, and I’m a totally blind person, but I just wan’t to know if the Iphone 4s with the voice Siri works just as good as the voice over does, but does the Siri only work with those who are visually impaired…

  3. Christi says:

    Hi Christi again, I have some worries about the Iphone, I know it is a touch screen and it will take some time to learn the phone, but what if say we had an emergancy and we needed to dial 911 and couldn’t do it fast enough, how is that possible for a blind person with no vision to dial on the touch screen for emergancy. Sincerely Christi.

  4. GPhmobile says:

    My question is about texting with the iphone. How would that work? I could imagine how to text with the touch screen.. but what about when someoen replies? Would it speak my that text out loud? What if it’s a private text and you don’t want it announced to the world??

  5. GPhmobile says:

    I text on my current phone more than I make calls lol. So, I would hate to upgrade to an iphone and find out the texting functions do not work well for blind people on the iphone. I’d rather stick with my older phone and still text than switch over to a new phone and not be able to, ya know? Also, with the iphone, would I have to speak to text? Is the voice reccognition accurate? What if I’m in a noisy room or at a concert? Can I easily take a photo and send it to a friend like I’m use to doing? How about videos? I’m pretty quick with my old phone, so just curious if I’d get just as quick with the iphone. I know, I ask a lot of questions. he he.
    Thanks so much!

    • Michael Barber says:

      Hello: I use my iPhone to send and receive both text and e-mail messages frequently. I use both the touch screen to text as well as the Apple wireless keyboard, which makes it much faster. When using the touch screen, I prefer to use the touch typing method, which means you touch the letter and then lift you finger to insert it. Not everyone prefers this method, however.
      Regarding messages you receive which may be private, I suggest either using a blue tooth headset, turning the volume down to a lower level, or, using a blue tooth braille display if you have one.
      You can reach me at the Department for the blind if you have more questions. I’m happy to help.

    • Anita Silvestro says:

      Dear Michael Barber:
      I am reading about the Iphone 4, and you had helpful information for a blind person. You said that you can be reached at the dept for the Blind. Where exactly is that? At the Verison or another location. Please let me know.

  6. Tai says:

    I, too use my Iphone for texting. I find touch typing to be fairly efficient, though I also make use of the apple wireless bluetooth keyboard for some tasks. The touch typing method of texting on the iPhone is quicker than the other method which is to find the letter and then tap twice with your finger at any spot on the screen to insert the last letter that was spoken by VoiceOver. With touch typing mode, you move your finger to the letter you want and VoiceOver will tell you which letter you are on. Then, you lift your finger to enter that letter. There are overlays available which you can buy for $6 at http://www.solona.net which put Braille dots on each letter on the keyboard. This is very helpful, as it gives you a tactile keyboard of sorts. This has made my texting much quicker. There are apps for the iPhone that will allow you to dictate your text messages so that you can speak them rather than typing. Please feel free to contact me with additional questions.

  7. Pingback: How I crossed over to the ‘Dark Side’ (I mean iPhone) | Technology for the Blind

  8. Eran says:

    Hi guys – I’ve been searching the internet for reviews and comments by blind people on the Iphone. I am totally blind and considering buying an Iphone 4. The whole prospect I find very exciting but just wondered if it is as easy as suggested? I have no doubt that in time I wil get use to it but just am a little reluctant about using a phone that is absolutely flat. Has anyone had any problems with functionality? Cheers

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