South African Mobile Telecommunications Accessibility Survey 2015

As South Africans who are living with disabilities, we find that we are sidelined as customers especially by the mobile networks.

 

The mobile networks, especially, are not necessarily interested in hearing what we’ve got to say.  They only try to conform to the minimum requirements enforced, (if ever) by ICASA.  I’m specifically thinking of MTN, who told me that they (know what they are doing, thank you very much); and that was more than five years ago.

 

Vodacom has a special needs helpdesk but, I, in particular, had a very bad experience with them and thus, I’m not a customer of theirs.

 

We should not be limited to a particular network just because they have a special needs desk.

 

The other networks have a lot to offer and they can actually provide the special needs assistance, if they really want to, without breaking the bank.

 

In 2013, we wanted to get your input on the accessibility for persons living with disabilities of the mobile networks in South Africa.

 

Many of you completed the survey.  Thank you.

 

I’ve engaged with Telkom Mobile and provided them with the statistics of the survey but, I haven’t received any feedback from them yet.

 

 

Just over 2 years later, I’ve decided to ask you for your input once again.

 

Please Click here to complete the survey.

 

It should not take you longer than 20 minutes but, depending on how much you have to add, it may just take a bit longer than that.

 

Should you require any assistance, you can contact us during office hours on 0127533663 and we will try to assist.  Alternatively, you can email us at admin@AccessTech.co.za.

 

Let’s try and use this platform to enable us to provide solutions suggestions to the mobile providers in addressing our needs as persons living with disabilities.

What about AG Mobile devices?

It is hard to imagine that just ten years ago, we were struggling to find an accessible phone for the blind. yes, there were the Nokias running on Symbian but, that was basically what you had to deal with.

Today, thanks to innovation from Google, Microsoft and Apple, we have a choice between Android, Windows mobile and iOS. We also have a number of manufacturers giving us options in the hardware space. Huawei, Samsung, LG, Xiaomi, HTC, Nokia, etc.

However, as you know, we do not always know if the software works so nicely with the hardware as many network operators and manufacturers modifies the operating system features.

In this light, I have been asked how accessible this phone or that phone might be for a person here in South Africa who might be considering a new contract with one of the operators or who might be due for an upgrade on an existing one.

It is difficult to recommend phones if I have not worked with them myself. On paper, things might look (okay) but, many times, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

AG Mobile is a new local mobile phone manufacturer on the SA landscape and I have been asked specifically about the accessibility of these devices for blind and visually impaired persons.

It would appear that this phone is primarily available from Cell C but, I might be wrong.

At this point, I cannot recommend any of the AG Mobile devices to any person who is blind or visually impaired, as I have not been able to test any of these devices thus far.

There are a number of really good phones and if you don’t have the funds to waste, don’t spend it on something that is not going to work for you.

I was very sad when I learned of a fellow blind person who was promised by a salesperson that this AG Mobile device would be perfect for her and that it is exactly the same as Samsung, if not better.

It is not exactly the same as Samsung, or Huawei, or HTC, or whatever other phone’s name you want to mention. It is exactly as the AG Mobile device it is supposed to be.

Be careful, guys and girls. Do not just sign up and believe the sales blabber that you hear. Their job is to sell to whoever they can. They don’t give a damn about the fact that you don’t earn a lot of money or that you are blind or visually impaired.

If you find that it works for you, please let us know. Let’s empower one another by sharing info.

UPDATE 9 May, 2016

I’ve had the chance to play with three of the devices and all I can say is: STAY FAR AWAY FROM THEM IF YOU ARE USING TALKBACK.

The phones were buggy, crashed, hanged, restarted on its own and generally didn’t perform well at all.

The Accessible Phones mailing list for South African visually impaired and blind persons

If you are a South African visually impaired or blind person interested in accessible phones in a local context, feel free to join the Accessible phones mailing list.

 

To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit the list info page. or, via email, send a message with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject or message body to: accessiblephones-request@accesstech.co.za

 

Once subscribed, you can send your submissions to: accessiblephones@accesstech.co.za

 

And should you run into any trouble, you can reach the person managing the list at accessiblephones-owner@accesstech.co.za