Sprint delivering industry first for visually impaired customers

By Brad Underwood, WDAF Fox 4 TV, September 10, 2013

The Kyocera Kona phone

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Overland Park based Sprint is launching an industry first feature on its latest phone. The Kyocera Kona is making it easier for the visually impaired to stay connected on the internet. Sprint said this new phone is the first of its kind, offering verbal translation for internet browsing. The flip phone talks you through every complete action made on the phone.

You type it, the phone says it.

“If you are looking at an internet page, it’s going to start reading off the website address, then start working its way down the page,” said Sprint Hardware and Interaction Designer Justin Eddings. “It will read some of the labels, the headlines. If you select one of the headlines it will read the body of the text.”

The device was designed specifically with the visually impaired and elderly in mind. Other features include variable speech speed, meaning you choose the rate of text being read, 911 shortcuts and a big keypad. You can also change it from color to black and white.

At Alphapointe, similar software is used on computers to help the visually impaired and the blind. For more than 100 years, the organization continues to serve and employ people who are blind or visually impaired. Director of Education and Rehabilitation Clay Berry said  this new phone helps close some gaps.

“Whenever new devices are released and accessible immediately, that’s a game changer for folks, that they have the most current technology and access to it,” said Berry.

Berry said Sprint and Alphapointe have worked together in the past, brainstorming on ways to make things easier and more accessible to the blind.

“It adds to the options that are out there, it’s very exciting, low costs options for folks,” said Berry.

Eddings has been working on the phone for 18 months and said it’s nice to see the hard work appreciated by those who need it.

“It’s very humbling when you see somebody take a device you’ve worked very hard on, they are speechless because of the things that you’ve done,” said Eddings.

Sprint says The Kyocera Kona phone is available through Sprint’s website and will available in stores on September 13th.


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