Tag Archives: Visual impairment

Tick tock, my Apple Watch experience, the watch arrives!

9th July: The Apple Watch arrives!


As you will recall from my first Apple Watch Experience blog post, I placed the order for my Apple Watch online on 6th July and received an email telling me to expect delivery of it sometime between 20th and 27th July. Imagine my astonishment then when on Wednesday night (8th) at around 9.30pm I received another email from the online Apple store telling me that my watch had been dispatched and that I’d receive it on Thursday 9th!


I had read that many people were disappointed with the waiting time for their watches once their order had been placed, so I’d already resigned myself to waiting two or three weeks to receive mine. I’m not sure whether Apple have stepped up production of the watch so more are immediately available to go out, but I was genuinely impressed that in the end my wait was a mere 3 days. For any of you who are thinking of buying an Apple Watch a piece of advice I would give is to place your order on the online store and then contact your local Apple retail store if you have one to see if they have the model you want in stock. That way if the retail store has one you can reserve it and go get it then cancel your online order. If they haven’t got the model you want in stock then at least you know you’ve placed the order online and will receive it, albeit not as instantly as picking one up. I did this and I’m glad, as I’d have been utterly disappointed if I’d have gone into a retail store only to find they didn’t have any.


So what were my first impressions?


I had ordered an Apple Watch Sport 42mm in Space Grey along with an additional Leather Loop strap which meant that the order came in two packages. Apple’s presentation and packaging of products has always been superb and the Apple Watch is no exception. The Sport model comes in a long smooth contoured case that displays the watch with the rubber Sport strap that comes with it attached and laid out flat. The charging plug, magnetic charging cable and quick start guide are all neatly tucked away in a compartment under a cardboard separator much as we are used to in iPhone boxes. The Leather Loop Strap also comes in a long contoured case and is presented laid out flat much in the same way. The cases are clearly designed to last and I imagine many people will use them to store their watches and straps in simply because they are so practical; I know I am.


Before I start talking about the watch itself I must mention the charging plug. There’s been a lot of talk about how great the new fold away pin design is and how brilliant they are for saving space when popping in a bag when travelling etc. Well, I had not handled one of these new plugs until unpacking my watch but I have to say, the plugs are really very cool indeed.


So, the watch itself. The first thing that struck me was how sleek and light it is. I mentioned in my earlier blog post how I would be interested to compare my new Apple Watch Sport with my old battered speaking watch, naturally that was pretty much the first thing I did as I took the old watch off my wrist. A lot of people have said that the Sports model’s light weight puts them off, but to be honest it weighs pretty much the same as my old speaking watch so this really isn’t an issue for me. The Apple Watch is definitely larger than my old watch though, but actually I quite like that.


In terms of how the watch feels, it’s basically a smooth oblong that is slightly longer on its vertical sides than its horizontal top and bottom sides. The watch face/touch screen is completely smooth and has rounded edges that curve over the sides, top and bottom. Down the right hand side of the unit are two tactile controls. The first is found approximately 3mm from the top and is a flat disc. This is the digital crown, it can be pressed in and acts very much like the home button on an iPhone, iPad or iPod. It can also be turned using a fingertip to navigate using something called crown navigation, this is fantastic for us VoiceOver users, but I will come back to that in a later post. Below the digital crown and approximately 3mm from the bottom is a slightly raised oblong button, this is the Friends button and allows you to quickly access people you’ve put in your favourites list in your contacts, it is also the power button for the watch. The left side of the watch feels completely smooth, however both the speaker and microphone are housed here with the speaker near the top and the microphone near the bottom. Turning the watch over you feel a slightly raised dome shape, this presses into the top of your wrist and provides you with vibrations and haptic feedback as well as allowing the watch to track your heart rate etc.


The rubber Sport Band strap that comes with the watch actually feels very nice and robust. I must admit that I didn’t much like the idea of a rubber strap, but actually it’s very comfortable and easy to fasten to your wrist.


The additional Leather Loop strap I bought to use on my watch for more formal or work events feels fantastic. The strap is divided into segments that make me think of tank tracks. This of course makes the strap very tactile and it really does feel great against the wrist. The only thing I think makes me not want to wear this strap all the time is that the watch doesn’t feel as secure on the wrist as it does with the rubber Sports strap. The Leather Loop strap secures by feeding through a D ring, folding back on itself and a small magnetic weight at the end of the strap magnetising to one of the other tank track segments. It may very well be that because I’m not used to this type of fastening it makes me more wary, but the strap itself is most definitely worthy of use for more formal or special occasions.


In summary the Apple Watch Sport is very light, has tactile controls that are easy to find and operate, feels and looks sleek, and overall is a beautiful piece of engineering.


In my next post I’ll share with you my experience of setting the watch up and my first impressions of operating it.

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.

Fear of the dark

It is said that the eyes are the window to your soul

That in a person’s eyes burns the light of life

When my eye dies, will my soul have perished and my life light be extinguished?

The gift of sight is truly that, a gift

To look upon those that you love

To watch your children grow

And see the beauty of the world that surrounds us

I am afraid of the dark

Not of the blackness itself

But of missing all of the things ahead of me

I will never be completely blind, for only my sight will have gone

I will still be here, only with a different perspective to you all

I do not need vision to live

Just a vision of life.

Written by James Goldsworthy.

copyright reserved 2008.