Is there anyone out there actually using a BlindShell phone as their major phone?
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I would love to hear from an actual user. It sounds really good ... but, sounds can be deceiving.
IOOn 2/24/2020 12:01 AM, Victor wrote:
The blind shell phone sounds promising for those blind people who don’t like touchscreens and might prefer android. I hope it survives. Certain other phones that were similar to this one in the past did not last long because no one was buying it I suppose.
On Feb 23, 2020, at 7:18 AM, Mary Smith <email@example.com> wrote:
Hello, there are a couple of companies in the US that will ship the phone to Canada.
On 2020-02-23 10:15 a.m., chris judge wrote:
I don't know anymore about the blind shell phone than what I read in the article. I don't even think it's available here in Canada.
From: main@TechTalk.groups.io <main@TechTalk.groups.io> On Behalf Of Ron Canazzi
Sent: February 23, 2020 10:21 AM
Subject: Re: [TechTalk] The Blind Shell.
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:--
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 website.now 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 customizable.
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 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:
. More Aplications
. Status Information
. 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
Display > Text Size > there are only two settings, Normal Text SizeHuge 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.
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.
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.
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: BlindShell Classic
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.
From: main@TechTalk.groups.io <main@TechTalk.groups.io> On Behalf Of
Sent: February 22, 2020 12:27 PM
To: Tech Talk <main@TechTalk.groups.io>
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.
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!"