When CSUN started, I continually joked that while some people swear by their accessible phones, I was swearing AT mine. I'm not used to having this much information about who called me or the abilities that come with a smartphone. But now, I have to say, I wouldn't go back. It's amazing to know who's call I missed while out of the room, or that if my phone rings while I'm crossing the street, I'm not dependent on either the person leaving a message or a kind sighted person to figure out who called me. I can actually create tasks and appointments even if I don't have my BrailleNote. This might actually have career applications; I may not always have something at hand to write down important information, but I will probably have my phone. And although I don't want anything stolen if I'm working with clients who could or would do something like this, a replacement phone and license for
Mobile Speak Smartphone
is a lot cheaper than any note taker with a Braille display.
Another application is the use of text messaging. It was pointed out in
this disaster preparedness guide for people who are blind
that sometimes text messages get through faster than phone calls in emergencies. And, I think, even if you choose not to text, it's going to be imparative that you know who called you, and that you have access to phone numbers.
Those are vital phone features that I think are important for pretty much anyone. I also like that I can read
content on the phone. I don't plan to use that much, but it's pretty cool. I can take photos and videos, though I don't know how much I will do of that. How cool would it be, though, to figure out some reliable way of snapping the cab number of the people who refuse access to Julio and I? Or, for that matter, figure out some way to be able to detect colors, or even go on a date, get a picture (not covertly, but honestly and casually), and find out what that guy looks like? Also, what if I were to associate a photo with all of my contacts. Someone might be trying to help me find my group again, and I can just whip out my phone and say "it's this person." I think there will be some cool applications.
So far, the quirks are working themselves out. I think this was definitely the right choice for me.
But back to the subject of this entry. Being at
really helped me learn how to use this phone. When you are at a conference, you need to be able to make and receive phone calls, respond to and send other text messages, keep appointments and accomplish tasks. I did most of this using a combination of my phone and my BrailleNote. But some of this gave me a chance to see how the phone could supplement my BrailleNote. And, best of all, CSUN is a baptism by fire because you have to learn the skills quickly enough to keep up with all the conference activities, but you also have people who understand the uniqueness of using a screen reader on a cell phone, and can either empathize, give suggestions or give you a kind kick in the butt to learn your phone. It's an interesting way to build confidence in your phone skills, or any assistive technology skills or disability-related skills for that matter.