When I spend time with another iPhone owner I’m often amazed at how different his or her use of the iPhone is from mine.
Some people have dozens of games on their iPhones; others are using it to shoot and transmit video; some use it solely for phone and email; others rarely make a plain vanilla phone call but are constantly messaging, tweeting, and posting to FaceBook.
Here’s a story about someone whose use of the iPhone is dramatically different, particularly in terms of how he uses the touchscreen interface. Andru Edwards at Gear Live wrote recently about Austin Seraphin, who uses the iPhone as a sight aid. Here’s a post from Austin’s blog Behind the Curtain describing his first week with his iPhone, which uses VoiceOver screen reading software. He calls it “the most revolutionary thing to happen to the blind for at least the last ten years.”
I had no idea this part of the iPhone universe existed, and I’m fascinated by his report:
To my delight, the salesman knew about VoiceOver and how to activate it, though didn’t know about how to use it. Fortunately, I read up on it before I went. Tap an item to hear it, double tap to activate it, swipe three fingers to scroll. You can also split-tap, where you hold down one location and tap another. This makes for more rapid entry once you understand it. It also has a rotor which you activate by turning your fingers like a dial. You can also double triple-finger tap to toggle speech, and a triple triple-finger tap turns on the awesome screen curtain, which disables the screen and camera.
The downside? Seraphin is disappointed that the iPhone uses iTunes as a control center for syncing data between a computer and a phone. He reports that iTunes is fairly accessible to blind users with Macs, but difficult with Windows and pretty much impossible with the Linux system he uses.