[tabi] Re: Smartphone cameras

  • From: "Allison and Chip Orange" <acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 23 Aug 2011 21:17:55 -0400

Hi Chris,
If you can afford it, there's no smart phone like the I-phone, from what
I've heard.  I've heard some people can spend as little as $75 a month, but
most seem to spend $100 a month.  and this is when you are locked into a
multi-year contract you can't get out of.

There's also Android based smart phones, but I don't think they come out as
well when compared to the I-phone.

next level down, is not a smart phone, but just a talking cell phone.  
you'd only get cell phone services (voice calls, voice mail, text messages,
and whatever calendar and other functions are built into the phone).  

you can get one for free I believe from the cell phone companies, if you get
locked into a multi-year contract, or you can buy the phone and the software
which makes it speak, and then sign up for "pay as you go" cell phone
service from any number of companies.  (this means you could control your
monthly spending)
I'm not sure, but would expect you would have to spend $500 for the phone
and the software to make it talk, if you went for the "pay as you go".

There are companies on the web which specialize in helping blind people with
their cell phone options (I think one such is the A.T. Guys).  There are
also many reviews and articles from places like Access World, if you just
google on cell phones and accessible or blind. 

here's a quote from something I posted on the list recently:

"from the recent Top Tech Tidbits news letter comes the 3 tips below on how
to get
additional info and reviews of accessible mobile phones:
 The June, 2011 issue of AccessWorld concentrates on mobile phone
It includes Deborah Kendrick's review of the book Anna Dresner and I wrote
on the
iPhone for National Braille Press, as well as more about learning the
iPhone, Android
and a basic Verizon phone.
 The Access Technology Blog from the NFB has a post entitled Impressions of

wish I could help more, but I'm just not a cell phone user; those who are
around here, don't participate much on the list, so you'll likely have to
get on one of the national mailing lists, where you could get all the help
you need.

For what it's worth, there are essentially free phones you can get from "pay
as you go services" such as Virgin Mobile or Track Phone.  you can operate
them by learning by feel where the keys are well enough to make and answer
calls, and check your voice mail.  they're not really accessible, but doing
this much isn't hard.  I think this is all most people need, and it lets you
keep a lot of your money.


From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf
Of Christopher Thomas
Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:48 PM
To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [tabi] Re: Smartphone cameras 

Well, I was thinking about two hundred dollars and change for the phone and
perhaps fifty for the month.
I could manage to go higher if I cut out ordering out so much when I don't
feel like cooking.
Christopher T.

        ----- Original Message ----- 
        From: Allison and Chip Orange <mailto:acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>  
        To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
        Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:34 PM
        Subject: [tabi] Re: Smartphone cameras 

        Well, how about saying what you're able to spend ... but as a
purchase amount and as a monthly amount.


        From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Christopher Thomas
        Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:22 PM
        To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
        Subject: [tabi] Re: Smartphone cameras 
        Hi, everyone:
        You guys are so smart when it comes to today's technology.  I've
heard so many various things about smart phones.
        Could you all please tell me what kind of phone I'm able to use with
little muss and fuss as someone who is completely blind?
        I would love to have a smart phone, too.  But which one would suit
my needs, which are rather limited as of now.
        I'm dying to know what you guys have and really like using.
        Christopher T.

                ----- Original Message ----- 
                From: Allison and Chip Orange <mailto:acorange@xxxxxxxxxxx>

                To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
                Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 7:14 PM
                Subject: [tabi] Re: Smartphone cameras 

                this is sooo cool Lynn, thanks so much for posting this.


                From: tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:tabi-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Lynn Evans
                Sent: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 10:39 AM
                To: tabi@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
                Subject: [tabi] Smartphone cameras 
                Link to article, with text to article below link:
                Smartphone cameras bring independence to blind people
                19 August 2011 Last updated at 03:19 ET By Damon Rose
Editor, BBC Ouch!
                VizWiz puts out the user's query to a panel of volunteer
                Snapping an image with your smartphone camera brings more
than just a
                pretty picture if you are blind. With the right app, it can
                your independence.
                Knowing what food is inside a packet or details about the
post which has
                just arrived on your doormat are everyday things that most
people take
                for granted.
                Blind people have traditionally sought this kind of visual
                from family and friends, or from an employed personal
assistant. But
                this has meant having to fit in with other people's time or
                significant money on help. Now there are an increasing
number of
                As smart phones become more accessible, some with built in
speech and
                Braille output, it is possible for people with sight loss to
get slivers
                of visual assistance when there's no one else around to ask.
                Want to know what colour your shirt is? Use a colour
detector app. Want
                to know if it is still daylight outside? Use a light
detector app. Want
                to read a notice on your work's noticeboard? Use a text
recognition app,
                of course.
                What's in this jar?
                The most recent visual assistance product to hit the app
store is
                VizWiz. As well as giving you automated image recognition
                intelligent software, it throws your questions open to a
small band of
                volunteers standing-by on the internet - a human cloud,
willing to
                donate ten seconds of their time here and there to describe
photos which
                come in.
                On its website, the VizWiz is described as: "Take a Picture,
Speak a
                Question, and Get an Answer".
                The free app and service, developed by the University of
Rochester in
                New York, has received between ten and 12 thousand questions
in its
                first two months. The volunteers are made up of staff and
students who
                receive a sound alert when a question arrives, either via
Twitter, text
                message or the web. They tap in a response which is received
by the
                original sender.
                "The most popular type of question is a product that they
have which has
                text written on it, a label with instructions. People want
to know what
                it says, how to cook it or when it expires," said Professor
Jeff Bigham,
                the man behind the service.
                "We can very clearly track the time of day," explained Prof.
                "In the morning people are asking about clothing, the colour
or pattern.
                A few people ask if their shirt matches their pants."
                "Around one or two eastern time we start getting questions
about wine
                from what we assume is the UK, asking what label, what year,
that kind
                of thing."
                It is this kind of subjective answer that a piece of
software can't give
                and that a human service can. But humans need sleep. Prof.
Bigham admits
                that, though computer scientists are famed for staying up
very late, the
                6am to 7am timeslot can be a bit difficult to fill with
volunteers from
                the university.
                Human cloud
                "It's a really exciting time to work in access technology. A
great new
                resource is that there are people out there on the web.
Everyone is
                connected and we can do a lot of interesting things with
it," he said.
                "People have been throwing around terms like Human Cloud for
a while,
                and Crowd in the Cloud.
                "A lot of work which happened in crowd sourcing before it,
took time.
                Like Wikipedia, it 'took time' for articles to emerge.
                interesting with our service is the realtime aspect of it.
Someone out
                there needs help from the cloud and, in almost real time,
they get it."
                Users know that it is humans at the other end and this has
                some "crazy" questions that could never have been answered
by automated
                recognition software.
                "We had one person who kept taking a picture of the sky and
asking 'what
                is this"' every 5 minutes for a couple of hours," said Prof.
                "I had no idea what was going on. It also happens we loosely
                Twitter. Someone later tweeted 'VizWiz just helped me watch
                Blind photography
                In a perhaps unexpected 21st century development, blind
people are now
                finding they need to learn the basics of photography in
order to take
                advantage of the growing number of text and image
recognition services
                on smart phones.
                How do you hold the camera up? And how close do you put it
to the object
                you want to know more about? Angles, perspective, distance
and light,
                are concepts that don't come naturally to people who have
never been
                able to see.
                The oMoby app is capable of recognising products from a
photograph Steve
                Nutt is an IT consultant in Hertfordshire who has been blind
                birth. It took him two weeks to master how to frame a shot
which he does
                in a very functional way, quite different to how sighted
people would do
                He explains: "If you're taking a picture of, say, a tin, you
need to
                make sure you get the whole tin in there. I would stand it
up so you get
                all the sides with the label and snap from about 8 inches
above it.
                "If you are taking a picture of some text on a piece of
                centralise the camera and lift it up about ten inches. Keep
your hand
                dead straight and dead still when taking the image.
                "You have to also bear in mind the size of the thing you're
taking the
                picture of. the smaller the thing, the closer you need to be
to it ...
                I'd be lying if I said it was easy."
                Jeff Bigham's team sees the results of the camerawork coming
from users
                like Steve. Not everyone gets it right with their first
                "We definitely get a few attempts sometimes. It's not always
easy to
                frame the photos. Sometimes the centre is out of the photo.
if they're
                asking what is on a can of soup label, we generally say 'we
can't tell
                what this is, the label is likely on the other side of the

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