People always ask me, “How are you able to text and use your phone?” Sometimes, people will just assume that I can’t text, or use Facebook, or go on the internet. Well obviously I had to use the internet to post this, and Facebook to share it, so there must be a way friends. Clearly it’s magic. A magician never reveals her secrets, so it’s a good thing I’m a musician and not a magician. (I used to get those mixed up as a kid.)
Almost every major piece of technology I own is made by Apple. My computer, my phone, and even my TV, well kind of. On every apple product made after 2008, there is a setting called voiceover. Basically, when turned on, it makes my stuff talk. Voiceover is something called a screenreader. That means exactly what it sounds like; it reads my screen.
I am going to stick with talking about my phone. iPhone’s have a touch screen, and it’s awesome. With voiceover turned on, every time I place my finger on my screen, it reads aloud what’s under my finger. But that is not the end of it. Voiceover changes the way the touchscreen is used. Instead of just tapping the screen and having something happen immediately, I have to tap my screen an additional two times. It’s not as bad as it may seem, although it does take an extra second or so. Here’s an example:
Say I want to open my camera. I’ve been using my phone long enough that I have a pretty good idea of the way my screen is set up, so I know that its on the top row. So I tap the top left corner of my screen and my phone says “camera.” To select it, I have to very quickly tap my screen twice (double tap) and the app opens.
That is how just about everything works. For example, when I like a status on Facebook, or favorite a tweet on Twitter, I have to double tap the post and then the like button. However, thankfully I don’t have to do that when typing and texting. There is a setting that I have on that allows my keyboard to work like normal. I have a very good sense of where each letter is, and am able to type just by tapping each letter. The letters under my finger are still read aloud though.
This was incredibly simplified because I’m feeling a little lazy, but I hope I somewhat answered the question. Keep in mind that all people who are blind use different technology and in different ways. So what works for me may not be what works for someone else. But the general outline is still the same. There are a lot of screen readers out there, however I just happen to prefer voiceover.