Re: The Blind Shell.

Carolyn Arnold

There is a lot of useful information here, and I copied and
will send to friend. Thanks.

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of chris judge
Sent: Sunday, February 23, 2020 6:50 AM
Subject: Re: [TechTalk] The Blind Shell.

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 cradle.
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
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, Messages.
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
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
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
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

-----Original Message-----
From: <> On
Behalf Of Carolyn Arnold
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 back.

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