Tag Archives: Apple

Tick tock, my Apple Watch experience, The big purchase

6th July 2015: The big purchase.


After many weeks of trying to convince myself that I didn’t actually want an Apple Watch, today I ordered one. I’ll make no bones about it, I was intrigued when the watch was first announced and my interest was piqued once it was revealed that it would in fact have a variety of accessibility features built in; the most relevant of these for me being VoiceOver. I’m completely blind and rely on VoiceOver to use my iPhone and iPad, so understandably it being included on the watch made me sit up and take notice. Then when you consider that I’m a real tech geek and love playing with and learning about cool new gadgets, it’s no great surprise that my willpower failed. In fairness the number of positive comments and reviews I’ve read from the visually impaired community since the watch release in April of this year also make it difficult to dismiss as a gimmick or toy. Having said that, the price of even the cheapest Apple Watch doesn’t really scream “TOY” to me. I decided to go for the 42mm Sport model in space grey as although the stainless steel version is apparently very nice, it just sounds too shiny for my tastes. I went for the 42mm as I’m a pretty tall guy at 6’ 1” so felt the larger size would suit me better, not to mention that it reportedly has a considerable edge over the 38mm model when it comes to battery life. By all accounts the Sport model is very light indeed and this has put some people off. But in all honesty the rather old and battered speaking watch I currently wear weighs next to nothing anyway, so I’ll be interested to see how it compares. The email I received after placing the order tells me that my watch will be with me sometime between 20th and 27th July, so now all I have to do is wait!


I will be back once I’ve received my watch to tell you more about my Apple Watch experience.

5 benefits of using a Bluetooth keyboard with an iOS device when running VoiceOver

When training visually impaired individuals on iOS devices that are running VoiceOver I often find that many of them have the same frustrations in using their devices. Most commonly these are  struggling with using the hand gestures, getting frustrated with not being able to type quickly when emailing or sending messages and not liking to use dictation due to its occasional inaccuracy. Using a Bluetooth keyboard with an iOS device can help greatly in alleviating these frustrations. I often take my own along with me so they can try it out and see the benefits. Nine out of ten decide to purchase a Bluetooth keyboard once they’ve tried one out and I believe that many more visually impaired people could get a great deal more practical use out of their iOS devices if they were to use one too.


So, below I have created a list of my top 5 benefits of using a Bluetooth keyboard with your iOS device if you are visually impaired and running VoiceOver.


1. If you are not a fan of using dictation or find using the virtual keyboard very slow, using a Bluetooth keyboard makes typing text much easier, faster and more accurate.


2. General navigation of the iOS device is very easy using a Bluetooth keyboard and using features like the rota are made much easier without the need for hand gestures that can sometimes be awkward to execute.


3. All VoiceOver accessible apps remain accessible when using a Bluetooth keyboard. In many instances the apps are easier to use as a result.


4. You can use a Bluetooth keyboard with more than one iOS device. By pairing a Bluetooth keyboard with all of your iOS devices you can really use them to their full potential. It is as easy as switching the Bluetooth setting on/off on each device to use the Bluetooth keyboard from one device to the next.


5. Using a Bluetooth keyboard with something like an iPad or iPhone enables you to access  all of the features on the iOS device when you’re on the move without the need to carry around a bulky or heavy laptop. A Bluetooth keyboard is compact and light enough to fit in a small satchel bag/handbag along with an iPad for example. This makes purchasing a Bluetooth keyboard to use with your iOS device an affordable alternative to buying a laptop. This is particularly the case if you use a desktop or MacBook/Laptop at home with free apps like Pages, Dropbox etc and they are also used on the iOS device as productivity can be maximised.

How to get high quality voices for VoiceOver on iOS7 devices

Apples iOS7 for mobile devices has been out for some time now and it has received some great reviews from the disabled community for its improved accessibility across its whole system. However, many visually impaired people (me included) were unimpressed by the voice used by VoiceOver. Basically the default voice for all iOS7 devices is the compact mobile version of British English Daniel. The compact voice takes up less space in the phone’s memory but sadly the sound quality in the opinion of most visually impaired users is very low compared to the high quality version of the same voice.

But fear not, as part of iOS7 Apple have not only given users the option to download and use the high quality version of the voice, but have also included several other voices which can be used either as compact versions or high quality versions.

As so many blind and visually impaired people that I know use iPhones, iPods or iPads I thought I would write this short guide on how to download and use the new voices available or simply change the default compact voice to the high quality version.

Here is what to do:

1. Go to Settings, then General, then Accessibility.

2. Go into VoiceOver then into the Languages and Dialects option.

3. Go into Default Dialect (it will say British English).

4. You will now have several different voices to choose from that you can download. These include American, Irish, Australian etc. Note that all of these voices are already on your device but they are all the compact versions. You can simply double tap on the voice you want and VoiceOver will use it as its default but remember it will be the compact version of that voice.

To get the High Quality version of any particular voice do the following:

1. Choose the voice you want and double tap it so the device is speaking in that voice.

2. Then beneath the different voice options you will find that there is a voice quality button. Double tap that button and your device will pop up with a warning that the high quality voice is a larger file and asks you if you want to continue. Obviously if you want the voice then double tap the ok/continue button. Your device will then download the High Quality version of the voice you have selected. This may take a couple of minutes so don’t panic if it does.

3. Once you’ve done this go back to the VoiceOver menu and there will now be a button called “use compact voice.” This toggles between switching the compact voice on and off. Switch it off and you will have the nice clear High Quality voice. Switch it on and you will have the compact voice.

I hope you have found this post useful. If you have, then please do share it with any visually impaired people who may benefit from it.

James Goldsworthy.

Founder, Alternate Visions Coaching.