Lighthouse employees ask: “How do I know if the iPhone is right for me?”
Courtesy of Julie Brannon, ECS Support Services Manager
“How do I know if the iPhone is right for me?” These were the exact words I heard from many Lighthouse employees in our monthly shop meetings when I announced the creation of a new iPhone users group facilitated by Nancy Swaney, Computer Training Program Instructor at the Seattle Lighthouse. Nancy was planning on starting the group, to meet on a weekly basis, for current iPhone owners to share ideas and applications that are helpful to the blind user.
After hearing the question from several employees, it occurred to me that we needed to back up one step. We needed to have someone come and share the pros and cons of owning and using the iPhone as a blind user. After taking a tally of employees who wished to attend an information session on the iPhone we received a great response, with 40 employees expressing interest in such a session.
When deciding who should present these pros and cons I thought who better to present this information than Seattle’s own Dean Martineau. Dean is owner of Top Dot Enterprises. We are fortunate to have Dean, who is considered in the forefront of assistive technology for the blind, as a member of the Seattle community. Dean also co-authored the book Getting Started with the iPhone: An Introduction for Blind Users, which is published by National Braille Press. Upon contacting Dean, he recommended that the session could consist of two parts. His presentation during the first half, then for the second half, allow people to divide up into small groups, with a current iPhone user, so they could get a hands-on feel for its how the phone functions. Timing couldn’t have been better, since the iPhone users group, IPUG for short, was a perfect source of people to ask for the small group facilitation experience.
The event was scheduled for June 6, 2012, to coincide with the visit of Bapin Bhattacharyya, technology expert for the Deaf-Blind community. This allowed Bapin to add to the event by sharing with employees additional information about using braille devices with the iPhone.
The day finally arrived, and the turn-out was fantastic: 22 employees for the session during the Lighthouse’s 1st shift, in addition to 5 iPhone users to facilitate the hands-on segment. During 2nd shift, we had 14 employees attend, with 3 iPhone users to facilitate the hands-on segment.
Dean presented ways to distinguish between whether an individual would find benefits from the use of an iPhone, and whether their personal needs would not support the use of one. At times, Dean had the audience responding in awe of the phone’s capabilities, and at times had the audience break out in laughter at the funny things that could be done with Siri, the iPhone’s internal voice activated ‘personal assistant’.
The sessions prompted many positive comments. So, perhaps with employees finding an answer to the question of whether the iPhone is right for them, the Lighthouse may eventually become an iPhone Mecca!