Re: The Blind Shell.

Ron Canazzi

Hi Chris,

Is there some type of limitation on this Blind Cell phone with respect to carrier access?  I thought I read somewhere that it is incompatible with the newer 5 G technology. Is this true?

On 2/23/2020 6:49 AM, chris judge wrote:
Hey Carolyn.

Here you go.
The BlindShell Classic Accessible Feature Cell Phone, a Smart Alternative
Steve Kelley
Imagine for a moment a cell phone that combined the best features of a
smartphone with the best features of a flip phone. You know, a dial pad you
can actually feel, with widely spaced buttons, and, for those of us with low
vision, bold, large print numbers. How about some serious large print on the
display for text and menu items? And text-to-speech everywhere, without
having to drill down through the settings to find it? While we're creating
this wish list, let's add a user guide that's built right in, so you don't
have to first complete a tutorial on using the Web to find and read the user
guide on some remote we're really dreaming big here aren't we?
Not at all! Such a phone arrived from Europe mid-November 2019. It's called
BlindShell Classic, and currently works with GSM network providers like
T-Mobile andAT&T.
One of the things you'll notice very quickly about this phone is that it
functions like it was built from the ground up with user accessibility in
mind, not as a feature that was bolted on as an afterthought. When you unbox
the phone, install the battery, and long press the Back button, the phone
starts with text-to-speech and an interactive tutorial. The tutorial is
quick and gives new users the opportunity to learn what each button on the
phone does. While exploring the phone, you'll discover that out of the box,
the BlindShell offers 4 female voices and 3 male voices in the Settings >
Sounds > Voice Output menus. In addition to 10 voices, there are 4 levels of
speech intonation and 5 levels of voice rates, to make speech output very
Physical Dimensions and Orientation
The phone is 5.3 by 2.3 by 0.5 inches and is what some might call a
"candy-bar style" phone, with the keypad beneath the 2.8 inch color screen.
Centered above the screen you will find the speaker. The keyboard is a very
standard layout of 4 rows of 3 numbers, with 5 keys above the number pad. In
the center of these keysis a square directional pad that contains 5 button
functions-center, left, right, up and down. To each side of the center
directional square are two buttons, one above the other. On the left, the
top button is Volume Down with a short press, and Voice Control and
Dictation using a long press. Beneath that is the Confirm button, also used
for answering a call. To the right, the top button is Volume Up with a short
press, and Voice Control and Dictation with a long press. Below this is the
Back button, which navigates back through menu levels, or deletes a text
entry with a short press. If the phone is turned off, a long press on the
Back button will turn the phone on. When the phone is on, a long press of
the Back button will navigate right to the Call menu.
The back of the phone contains a 2-megapixel camera with a flashlight, a
speaker grill and a tactile button that is a speed dial button, called
Emergency/S.O.S., that can be associated with a contact for quick use in an
emergency. At the top edge of the phone is a standard micro USB input for
charging and file transfer and a headphone jack. On the bottom edge you'll
find the microphone and charging port for use with the included charging
Calling Made Simple
Although the BlindShell offers a range of functions, at its most basic the
device can quickly make calls using either the dial pad or voice control. At
virtually anywhere on the menu, a long press on either the top left Volume
Down button or the top right Volume Up button will get the Voice Control
prompt, "I listen after a beep." After the beep, you might say, "Call
xxx-xxx-xxxx," or "Call [a name listed in contacts]." A second or two later,
the phone says "Dialing," or requires a press of the Confirm button to start
the call. It's that simple! Of course, pressing Confirm on the Call menu and
dialing the number on the spacious dial pad is also an option.
With a list price of $349 from A T Guys or LS&S, it's certainly good news to
know that placing a call with the BlindShell Classic is easy enough, but
what about other functions? The BlindShell includes features you might
expect, like email, messaging, alarms, and a calendar, to name a few. It
also has some really innovative features built in, like Internet radio and
FM radio in the More Applications > Media menu, Weather in the More
Applications > Tools menu, and GPS Localization, Object Tagging, and Color
Indicator, all in the More Applications > Vision Aids menu.
The BlindShell Menu
Before digging deeper into a couple of these applications, let's explore the
navigation on the BlindShell. Using the Center Left and Center Right buttons
will move you through the top level menu items:
. Call
. Messages
. Contacts
. More Aplications
. Settings
. Status Information
. Manual
. Notifications
. Turn Off the Phone
Each menu item is numbered, and when it is read, you hear both its number
and the number of menu items in that level. So, for example, the second item
in the main menu is Messages. When we get to the Messages menu item we hear,
"Messages, two of nine." As a shortucut, to jump to any menu item,simply
press its number. So, pressing 2 when you're on the main menu will open the
Messages menu item.
You can also select a menu item by pressing the Confirm button or the Center
button. Doing so will open the submenu for that item. Like the main menu,
once in a submenu, the Left Center and Right Center buttons move through the
menu items. Continuing to press either button will move through the menu
again continuously. When in a submenu, the Back button will move back up a
menu level. So, in the submenu for Messages, the Right Center and Left
Center buttons will move through the six Messages submenu items, and
pressing the Back button will return navigation to the main menu item,
While this menu structure is linear, it did take some practice to use,
because many menu items had multiple submenus. Again, a long press of the
Back button returns focus to Call in the main menu. A long press on either
the Volume Up or Volume Down button will open the Voice Control where you
can say, "Open." followed by whatever menu item you'd like to open.
For new users, a great place to begin is with the Manual from the main menu.
The Manual menu contains the Interactive Tutorial which the phone
automatically begins the first time it is turned on, and other menu items
including User Guide, Getting Started, Operating the Phone, Safety
Information, and more. Navigating through these menu items and their
submenus will give you plenty of practice with menu navigation along with
comprehensive information about all the features of the phone and the many
included applications. BlindShell Functions (menu item 4), provides detailed
information about the many applications.
Two Cents About Text Size
One observation here about the large print text on the display. In Settings
Display > Text Size > there are only two settings, Normal Text Size and
Huge Text Size. With Huge Text Size selected, the text on menu items was
approximately the size of newsprint headlines. When opening a screen full of
text in the manual, the text size remained bold, but smaller. Of course, all
the text on the screen was read as soon as it opened, but there was no way
to magnify the text. As far as the option of Huge Text Size, I wondered,
"Huge" compared to what? "Larger Text," or "Largest Text," might be a more
accurate label here.
BlindShell Functions
For many users, having a tactile number pad and navigational buttons will
make this phone easier to use than a conventional touchscreen smartphone,
with perhaps one notable exception: the need to type in text using the
number pad, a skill many of us have forgotten or never learned in the first
place. This issue aside, BlindShell offers a great deal of functionality. In
the More Applications menu, you'll find a range of applications that make
the BlindShell every bit as useful as a touchscreen smartphone. In addition
to common applications like Email, Messaging, Calendar, Alarms, Timer,
Stopwatch, Voice Recorder, Calculator, Weather, and Dictionary, there are
several applications in the More Applications > Vision Aids menu that are
worth mentioning. The Color Indicator is a handy color identifier. Hold the
camera over an item and press the Confirm button to hear the color
described. It seemed the accuracy of the Color Indicator was about 50%,
probably due to the limitations of the 2-megapixel camera. For the casual
user, having this application built into the phone is a convenient feature,
but if you need more accurate results, a separate, stand-alone color
identifier is a better choice.
The Localization application is a very simple GPS application that will give
you the nearest address. Select Localization from the menu and the phone
responds, "Loading." A moment later the nearest address is provided. Using
the Localization application indoors yielded poor results beginning with the
notice, "Warning the obtained results may be inaccurate. For better results
try again in an open outdoor area." Once outside, the results were indeed
more accurate and useful.
The last Vision Aid item is Object Tagging. This application works with QR
codes printed on adhesive sheets available for purchase from the BlindShell
retailer. Peel off one of the codes, which is about a half-inch square,
stick it on the object to be labeled, and record an associated voice label.
The voice label will be read each time you open the application, select Read
Tags, and scan the code. This is a really handy application to have
installed on the phone, and very simple to use. Tags can be edited and
reused for different items.
Kudos on Voice Control Dictation
One of the really outstanding features of the BlindShell Classic is the
accuracy and performance of the dictation function, both on WiFi and
cellular data at 4G. With nearly 100-percent accuracy, the correct menu
items were opened by using a long press of the left or right Voice Control
buttons and speaking the selection. Anywhere an edit field was available-for
contacts, in a calendar entry, for dialing the phone-voice dictation worked
very well. In addition, in the Note application, using WiFi, dictation was
very accurate, responded to commands such as, "new paragraph," and accepted
relatively long dictations.
More Functions
Another function worth highlighting is the Internet Radio, found in the More
Applications > Media menu. Internet Radio submenus included Popular
Stations, Categories, Search, Favorites, and more. Although the Categories
menu contained a total of 96 categories, including all types of music
genres, sports radio, talk radio, etc., it was a bit disappointing not to
find a category and listing for radio reading services.
Also in the More Applications > Media submenu are Book Reader and Camera.
The Book Reader application is somewhat limited because it doesn't support
Bookshare directly. Text files may be transferred using a USB cable quite
easily. It was easy to download a title from Project Gutenberg then transfer
and play it using the Book Reader. The Book Reader will set bookmarks and
resume reading from where you left off. Also, any book or podcast available
as an MP3 file can be transferred to the Music Player directory, and played
with the Music Player located in the More Applications > Media submenu.
The camera on the BlindShell Classic is simply not one of its strong points.
It is a 2 megapixel camera, and images may be saved, viewed, and transferred
using a USB cable. There is no way to use the camera as a magnifier or to
zoom in on pictures.
The BlindShell Classic comes with 4 GB of internal storage so there is
plenty of room for music, podcasts, and books. The micro SD slot will hold
up to an additional 32GBof storage if you need more.
Display Options
As mentioned earlier, text-to-speech is activated at start-up and can be
controlled using the Volume Up or Down buttons. If you have some usable
vision, there are several settings in the Settings > Display submenu that
can enhance the display, including: Brightness; Color Scheme; and Main Menu
Style, in addition to the Text Size mentioned earlier. The menu style offers
the options of Only Text, Icons Only, or Icons and Text. If you have opted
for huge text, these menu items are bold and fill the screen. Alternative
color schemes include: White on Black; Black on White; White on Blue; and
Black on Yellow, with bold text and good contrast. The Screen Brightness
menu contains 6 levels of brightness and the ability to fully dim the screen
so it shows nothing.
The BlindShell Classic has been available in Europe for several years and is
only now coming to the US The phone is a great option for those looking for
a completely accessible phone with tactile number pad and buttons and a
consistent, easy to use menu system. Overall accessibility and usability are
excellent on the BlindShell Classic. If you're looking for an excellent
feature phone without a touchscreen, the BlindShell is a great option.
Product Information
Product: BlindShell Classic
Manufacturer: BlindShell
Price: $399 (from manufacturer) $349 (from A T Guys and LS&S
This article is made possible in part by generous funding from the James H.
and Alice Teubert Charitable Trust, Huntington, West Virginia.

-----Original Message-----
From: <> On Behalf Of Carolyn
Sent: February 22, 2020 12:27 PM
To: Tech Talk <>
Subject: [TechTalk] The Blind Shell.

Would the person who sent that article about the Blind Shell please send it
again, either to the list or to:


I copied it to send to a friend, had her email ready, phone rang, I hit
Send, night time came, I closed computer, away went the copy. Also, I delete
everything last thing. I would appreciate it very much, if it could be sent

They Ask Me If I'm Happy; I say Yes.
They ask: "How Happy are You?"
I Say: "I'm as happy as a stow away chimpanzee on a banana boat!"

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