accessibiilty

Why does my iPhone screen drop down when I tap the home button?

Apple iPhone 6s

Episode 1317

Doug from Long Island, NY

Doug has iOS 9.5.3 installed, and when he taps on the home button, the whole screen drops down. Leo says it's a feature that allows you to use your phone one handed because the iPhone 6S is larger than the previous iPhones. It's supposed to do that whenever you double tap the home button, without actually pressing it down.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Dick DeBartolo

Episode 1277

This week's gadget is for the hard of hearing. It's called the Turtle Beach HyperSound Clear Audio System. It provides high directional sound that will beam clear sound to a "sweet spot" for people to be able to hear it. It's not cheap at about $1700, but what's interesting is that everyone else can hear the stereo at normal volume. It's a bit pricey, but when you consider the cost of hearing aids, it suddenly looks more affordable.

What's an affordable mobile phone for the blind?

Episode 1244

Kurt from La Habra, CA

Kurt is blind and he's looking to buy a smartphone that will talk back to him. He wants an Android phone that will take an SD card. Leo says that feature is on its way out and he also says that iPhone has the best accessibility out there. But if he prefers Android, it will get the job done. A $200 price range is misleading since he'll have to get a monthly plan, though. The phone cost is obscured because it's usually subsidized. That's slowly starting to change as people buy their phones at full price.

Does Apple TV offer accessibility features for the blind?

Apple TV

Episode 1193

Tom from Charlotte, NC

Tom is visually impaired and wants to know if the new Apple TV will have accessibility features. Leo says that nobody knows. It's not going to be announced this week at WWDC as hoped, casting doubt if it'll even be out this fall. But Netflix does have audio playback on titles and descriptions. And the AppleTV does support that feature.

What about the Apple Watch. Is it worth buying? Leo says no. It's very expensive, and the icons are tiny. It isn't really accessible or useful.

"Be My Eyes" is a service that connects blind people with volunteers who can help

Walking stick

Episode 1153

Julian from Los Angeles, CA

Julian says that there's a new service called Be My Eyes, which pairs blind people with volunteers who can literally be their eyes. Sighted people can respond to blind people using the smartphone app, and so far, there's over 30,000 volunteers -- 100 times as many blind people who are using it. Leo says that's extremely cool. And it's free, which is amazing.

Caller Paul says that KNFB Reader reads printed text. It's written by Ray Kurzweil.

How can I get my mobile phone to read to me?

Episode 1008

Julien from California

Julien is blind and he uses an Android phone. It's gotten to the point where it does just as good of a job with accessibility as the iPhone. He recommends a pure Google phone because overlays from companies like HTC get in the way of it. The Nexus phone is the best one for those needing accessibility. Leo also says the Moto-X would be good for that reason as well.

Julien is a trainer for visually impaired people using smartphones, and his website is TechJV.com.