Siri Opens Up New World for the Visually Impaired

by Derek Bove on October 7, 2011

Picture of the icon for Siri - a purple and black microphone in a circleOne of the most exciting features in the upcoming iPhone 4S is called “Siri personal assistant,” a voice recognition application that allows a user to ask common language questions and get real responses without having to issue specific voice commands.  This more conversational approach to speech recognition is as friendly as it is powerful.

Siri opens up a whole new world of exciting mobile access for someone that is low vision or blind.  Instead of having to manually navigate through a sea of icons using VoiceOver, then typing in your text message to someone, you can simply say, “Text Maurie and tell her I’ll be there at 7 PM.” Siri will create the text and read it back to you.  If you have your accessibility settings turned on, Siri will dictate your message back before sending, ensuring it has it right.

Truth be told, this isn’t new technology; Siri was previously available as a separate app, but having it so heavily integrated into the phone and accessible by a simple press of the home button makes this truly accessible by everyone!

Take our poll and check out the video below.  You’ll even see a blind user featured at the end of it!

[polldaddy poll=5565351]


  • Chris Kelsey

    I can’t wait to try this out.  I’m curious if it works as well as it does in the video.

  • Tarot

    Siri?? A great idea of Apple for own Iphone, yes sir! But, still i cant see in the market??

  • Tom Buck

    I think it sounds awesome if it works and you don’t mind walking round dictating text messages etc. out loud for everyone to hear. It has to work really well though, like never, or very rarely, get it wrong even when there’s background noise. If you’re constantly having to correct it then it would get very boring very quickly.
    Still reckon I will wait for iPhone5.

  • Derek Bove

    Hey Tom,

    I actually read about a privacy feature where instead of speaking out loud, you could change a setting so that Siri would only speak when you placed the phone up to your ear. That way you don’t have to worry about everyone listening in on your conversations!


  • George Geisler

    Is this blog for Apple users only?  Is ZoomText availy for Apple OS?
    I cannot use Cell phones or iPad due to low vision
    George Geisler
    Boise ID

  • Becca Proskin

    Hi George,

    This specific post was just about the new iPhone 4S but our blog in general deals with all issues/topics related to low vision.  ZoomText is actually not available on the Apple platform – it’s Windows only.  You might be surprised at how accessible some cell phones are out there, especially the iPhone.  It’s got some pretty powerful tools built right into the phone that do not require an additional purchase.


  • Rotorg33k

    why couldnt they just give it to us on our exsiting phones… more money.. that i do not have :(

  • jamie

    Hi George,

    I am vison imparied too, i dont know how bad your eyes are but i am assuming if you are using zoom text on your pc you will be able to use the ipad and iphone..

    i have an iphone and ipad and cant live with out them, the zoom and voice over is brilliant :) if you have any questions please email me i can help..


  • jamie

    not sure if this is the right section or not, however its related to apple… can you guys make a better keyboard for IOS 5, i want bold letters so i can read the letters easier, and with the ipad split keyboard i cant read the letters as they are too small and not dark enough.


  • Becorson

    Jamie, do you find that the zoom and voiceover on the iPad (as well as on Mac’s) work as well as ZoomText and Jaws on a PC? Thanks.

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