If you’re not disabled, it’s easy to take the connectivity provided to us by our smartphones and mobile devices for granted. Yet those who suffer from physical or developmental disabilities do not have that luxury. It’s estimated that nearly 15% of the world’s population have a disability, whether physical or developmental, that restricts them in some way from accessing our modern communication networks.
Manufacturers and software developers are beginning to take notice and take advantage of the opportunities available in producing both hardware and software solutions to the problem of access for those with disabilities. Let’s take a look at some of the best phones currently available for the disabled.
Phone considerations for the physically disabled
For the person with physical disabilities, tasks that we take for granted may be extremely difficult or impossible. Phones that require fine motor skills and acute vision are particularly problematic. Depending on the type and severity of the physical disability, the actual requirements of a phone will vary greatly. Here are some key elements that you should look for when shopping for phones for the physically disabled:
- Simple and ergonomically accessible hardware design
- Streamlined operational menus
- Easy to read displays
- Adjustable sound levels
Three phone options for the physically disabled
As with any hardware solution for the physically disabled, the type of disability will be the determining factor in the chosen solution. Keep in mind what the key limitations are for the disabled person who the device is intended for.
- Amplicomms BigTel 40 Plus – The BigTel 40 Plus is a simple solution for those who may have vision or mobility issues. This landline phone has large buttons with easy to read numbers, and features a set of speed dial buttons that you can place pictures onto, facilitating phone calls if there are also memory and cognitive issues.
- Doro Liberto 825 – If you’re looking for a smartphone that boasts a streamlined interface that’s easy to operate, the Doro Liberto 825 may be just what you need. Built around the Android platform, this phone has a 5-inch screen that employs large icons, and has a rubberized back that’s easy to hold. The phone also features a dedicated Assistance button on the rear for use in the case of emergencies.
- Sesame Enable – Sesame Enable isn’t a piece of hardware. It’s a smartphone app designed for use with Android phones. The app employs facial recognition to track head movements to operate the device. This could make it a valuable tool for use by those with profound physical disabilities The app requires a $19.99/month subscription.
Phone considerations for the developmentally disabled
Tasks requiring memory, attention, reading skills, and more can be difficult for people with cognitive disabilities. This may make it very difficult for the disabled person to use conventional landline or mobile telephones. Phones that employ simple and consistent user interface (UI) elements may make it easier to overcome these hurdles. When looking for suitable phones for the developmentally disabled here are some of the important elements to keep in mind:
- Simple operation
- Limited setup issues
- Bright, clear display
- Voice activation features
Three phone options for the developmentally disabled
As with any hardware solution for the devlopmentally disabled, the scope of the disability and the person’s cognitive level will be the determining factor in the chosen solution. Keep in mind what the key limitations are for the disabled person who the device is intended for
- Future Call FC-1007 Picture Care Phone – If you need a simple landline with an easy-to-use interface that doesn’t require basic literacy or numeracy, Future Call’s Picture Care Phone is an excellent option. Ten one-touch buttons with pictures make it easy to place calls to necessary contacts even if the disabled person cannot use numbers.
- Jitterbug Flip – Designed primarily for seniors, GreatCall’s Jitterbug Flip phone has design attributes that make it attractive if you’re looking for a phone for the developmentally disabled. Large buttons and numbers and a simple “Yes/No” interface design make operation simple. Voice dialing is another plus. This phone has a dedicated urgent response button (subscription required) which may be of use, depending on your particular situation.
- Jitterbug Smart 2 – The design philosophy that drove the Jitterbug Flip is also at work with the Jitterbug Smart 2. The interface is streamlined and features limited options. Voice typing makes texting easier, and a beefy battery means it doesn’t have to be charged as frequently as most smartphones.
Consider the needs of the person the phone is intended for
Hopefully this exploration of the market for phones for the disabled has served to get you on the right path in finding the right phone for a loved one who is disabled. Explore your options carefully and don’t be afraid to try multiple options to find the one phone that is right for your circumstances.