Thursday, June 27, 2013

My cell phone and disability

It happened again- I pocket dialed my friend's number at two o'clock in the morning while going home. I was greeting and exchanging pleasantries with people I knew along the way and I didn't even realize that I recorded a 2 minute message on his voicemail. Just to be on the safe side, although suspecting that my phone is stuck somewhere in the bag that hangs from my neck between my keys and my wallet he texted me to check that I was OK. It happened a few times before. Once it led to me discussing a job offer the next day. But the problem is, it's embarrassing for me and annoying to the person on the other end. As I move around in my wheelchair, I keep my phone in the front pocket of my manpurse and I set it against my waist and stomach. As I move or do something in front of me, things may shift a bit. Apparently my Blackberry screen is very sensitive. I often find it running applications, or typing gibberish in a message when I pull it out. But mostly it just pops up a contact, with my luck often a random person I have not spoken in years or have a particular desire to. Yes, I could lock the screen entirely, but then it doesn't even light up so I can check the time as I roll the street and it's not comfortable if somebody calls me. I guess nobody thought of putting in a feature that will only block the dialpad. Not on my phone anyway. And it made me think of phones designed to fit the often unique needs of people with disabilities. I'm not in golden years. I don't need big buttons, visible letters and simple functions. I don't need a telephone just for calling. I'm on the internet a lot and I will freely admit that Facebook is now my universe. I love gadgets and like having the hot new thing if I can afford it. I'm also a dedicated Blackberry fan, so I really haven't seen anything I wanted to update to in quite some time. But think about this. I have full use of only my left hand. The other one is too spastic for me to type and select. I need a phone that I can operate with my thumb as I hold it in my palm. As the phones get bigger and wider it's harder to do. And with sensitive screens I'm always running a risk of selecting the wrong thing. I really need to be able to pull it out, throw it back and not worry it called UF's Dean of Student Office while I tell my friend how many drinks I had or discuss an afterparty. Now I got my screen locked with PIN, meaning every time I check my inbox I need to put it in. Hardly a good solution. And with every new phone they seem to fit my palm worse and worse. Blackberry had this amazing technology once, called SureType, but it didn't catch on. There was a spring under the screen of the failed Storm series models and you needed to physically push the screen in, as if you were pressing a button to make any selection. I guess people didn't like it. The operating system was extremely buggy and the screen would easily break, but at least I could use it with one hand without any struggle. Yes, durability. With my disability I have dropped my phones plenty of time. Sometimes it just felt out of my bag and I didn't see it or I didn't catch it in time. Often it hit my metal footrest before falling on the ground. And yes- battery- I don't drive, so I can't simply go home with easy to recharge it. Often when I leave it's for the entire day. My recently replaced Blackberry Torch it seems I need to charge every 14 hours. Also - as far as charging is concerned a find the small USB ports very tricky. To find it, to fit the connector in properly, it's a tiny element to deal with. I can only imagine what people with more severe manual disability go through. And the frequent pulling in and out loosen the port a lot. Yes, I use internet on it, GPS and location services, because... I need them. Any phones like that out there? A phone I can occasionally drop, not thinking there goes my $50 deductible, that will not call my friend without me knowing, that I can work with only one hand and charge every two days? You hear it Blackberry, Samsung, Apple, Nokia, HTC, Motorola?

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