Sight impairments

Access for all

If you're blind or partially sighted, here are some tips for choosing a phone. When choosing a phone, make sure that it has the features you need before you buy - not all features are available on every phone.

You may want to choose from phones that:

  • Have a touchscreen - with speech feedback or magnification features
  • Come with a physical keypad with large well-spaced buttons
  • Are specially designed to be easy to use, such as the Doro

Voice activation

Most smartphones (Apple iOS, Android and Windows phones) either have built-in features which enable voice control, such as Siri for Apple iOS, or you can install an app to do the same job. Voice activation allows you to:

  • Call someone in your phonebook just by speaking their name
  • Search the internet using voice commands
  • Dictate text messages and email messages
  • Open applications using your voice
  • Use your voice to record notes for reminders or to send as messages

General settings

  • Large buttons, raised tactile keys and a raised dot on the number 5 will help you navigate the keypad
  • Change your sound settings so you get an alert when the phone is powering up or down, or when the battery is low
  • Set personalised ringtones for each person so you can tell who is calling you
  • Choose one touch or speed dialling for the ability to call people easily
  • Use a Bluetooth headset so you can answer your phone easily without having to find it
  • Physical or touchscreen buttons that vibrate or make a sound when pressed let you know when you've pressed something
  • Use a camera with zoom settings to magnify text and images - take a picture or video then pinch the screen to magnify it
  • Predictive texting or a predictive typing app will limit the amount of typing you have to do

Accessibility settings

Most smartphones have a section in the settings called Accessibility where you can find some helpful features which allow you to:

  • Change the font to a larger size or easier-to-read font
  • Improve the screen contrast by reversing the contrast or changing the colours
  • Increase back lighting or, for those who need limited glare, turn down the screen light
  • Turn on magnification gestures if large text or pinch to zoom is not enough enlargement for you
  • Find out what is happening on the screen with speech output. Try Voiceover for Apple devices or Talkback for Android

External keyboard

There are lots of Bluetooth keyboards available that connect to your phone without using cables. This may make typing easier.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) can provide more information about mobile phones for people with sight impairments - call them on 0303 123 999.

Visit an O2 store and speak to us for help with choosing a handset with all the features you need.