Is there an accessible smart phone?

CFA member ACCAN published a quick review of three popular smart phones in their latest quarterly bulletin for members.

Surf the web, answer a work email or transfer some funds. Many of us do this using our smartphones without a second’s thought. But can these devices offer blind consumers the same portable lifestyle? To answer this, accessibility tools were set up on the latest Blackberry, Android and iPhone models and tested for their functionality.

BlackBerry Storm2: There is no voice-led interface for this or any BlackBerry smartphone. The in-built accessibility features are not suited to blind consumers. You can buy an app developed with BlackBerry ($449USD) but only if you’re American.
Verdict: Forget BlackBerry.

Samsung Galaxy SII: With the free app, screen-reading works but not everything is announced, making it a frustrating and sometimes mystifying affair. The typing system worked but was haphazard. An accessibility app ($99AU) worked better but ruined the phone experience and didn’t address many of the issues.
Verdict: Watch this space. Android is usable but needs a re-design.

iPhone 4s: Turn on. That’s all you need to do to activate accessible features which come preinstalled. ┬áScreen announcements are logical and navigation techniques are easily learned. ┬áTyping was easy and common sense, although a little slow. ‘Siri’, Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant, with her simple English voice commands, also enhances its accessibility.
Verdict: This is the only real choice. Accessibility comes free and it works.