Sprint’s BlackBerry Was Not Developed for Persons With Disabilities(PWD)

By John M. Williams

I am pleased to become a consumer of the BlackBerry telephone craze. I had held onto my Sprint cell phone too long. As someone who receives more than a hundred e-mails daily, I watched with envy as people accessed their e-mails on trains, buses, cars, at airports and on streets as they walk. They were in constant contact with their friends, clients, news organizations and family. They could text message or call anyone they wanted at anytime from almost anyplace. Instant communication and productivity are a pressed button in the palm of their hands.

With my former cell phone, I could not twitter and access the Internet. I was not a member of the instant IT world. I am now. With my old phone, I could make calls, receive calls, store more than 100 telephone numbers, respond to voice mail, take pictures and play four games. The numbers and letters on the keyboard were readable and easy to push.

For three weeks, I have had a BlackBerry. It is a gift. Its features such as accepting e-mails, storing voice mails, text messaging, easy storing of telephone numbers, excellent voice quality, an okay camera, Internet access, a map, speaker phone and telephone calling keep me connected around the clock to business associates, family and the news. I like the many features, and in the time I have had it, it has increased my productivity. But?

My gripe with the BlackBerry is with its tortuous, miniscule keyboard. The tiny numbers, letters and other functions are very difficult to read and push. Sometimes, I use a magnifying glass to read the keyboard so I can text someone or add a phone number to my address book or make a first time call. I had to let my finger nails grow on my index fingers so I can use the keyboard. Other times, I have used a lead pencil. It is extremely frustrating to use different tools so I can use the keyboard.

Occasionally, the trackball freezes. This delays opening up services such as e-mails, or going to the web, or making a call and even taking a Kodak moment picture. I get angry when this happens.

In designing the cell phone, the designers did not consider the millions of people with vision problems and dexterity challenges as potential customers. If they had, they would have designed a larger keyboard with voice that pronounced each letter and reads each function on the screen. Some cell phones today have voice recognition capability that eliminates using the keyboard for some functions.

In the future, the BlackBerry must be designed for usage by people with vision limitations and physical disabilities. (The BlackBerry has been designed to use with a hearing aid.) The American Council of the Blind, American Foundation of the Blind, National Federation of the Blind, and aging organizations should be consulted. BlackBerry designers should cultivate every consumer who can use a Blackberry. That’s capitalism!

Reproduced from http://www.atechnews.com/