Help Improve Cell Phones for Deaf People! (And also for Deaf-Blind People)

Posted on 22 February 2008. Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Audism, Deaf-Blind | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Ever been frustrated that Sidekick does not have all the features you would like to have as a deaf person? (Or as a deaf-blind person, or a person with other disabilities?) Been frustrated that there aren’t more companies with a “data-only” plan? Wish there were more phones out there with the features that deaf people really need, like an easy-to-type-on interface? Want to see better cell-phone features and services for Deaf-Blind people?

Personally, one feature I’d like to see is the capability of plugging a keyboard into my cell phone. The current keyboard on the Sidekick is okay for SHORT typing. But I refuse to kill my thumbs by typing long messages. And I just don’t do live conversations because thumb typing is so much slower than touch typing. But I would LIKE to be able to do these things. The capability to plug in a light, portable, folding keyboard would give me so much liberation.

Maybe this isn’t a feature you want to see, but maybe there are other things that are very important to you as a deaf consumer.

Well, one research center is gathering information and feedback from all consumers with all disabilities WHETHER OR NOT YOU CURRENTLY HAVE A CELL PHONE. (One of their very important questions is — if you don’t have a cell phone now, why not? If you don’t have a cell phone right now, then this is your chance to explain why.) This information will be used in part to help develop better wireless technologies for deaf people and for people with all disabilities.

If you wish to see past results from their survey, you can read them at:

You can participate in the survey yourself (it takes maybe about 15 minutes) at:

This is your chance to MAKE THE NEEDS OF DEAF CONSUMERS HEARD. (Or the needs of consumers with disabilities in general.) I also hope that deaf-blind people will use the chance to make the needs of deaf-blind consumers known.

If you are very interested in this area, then at the end of the survey you also have the option to express interest in participating in future focus groups or other opportunities to share your feedback as a deaf consumer (or consumer with other disabilities). (Of course you don’t have to do this if you don’t want. You can just fill the survey and be done with it.)

Are there any deaf-blind people reading this?

I’m hailing all deaf-blind people especially because I am sure that deaf-blind people must run into enormous barriers in accessing cell phones. This survey could be your opportunity to express your views.

Remember that you do NOT need to own a cell phone in order to participate in this survey. If you don’t own one because current cell phones are not accessible, then you can say that.

You can also use the comments areas in the survey to suggest features, etc., that would be helpful to you as a deaf-blind person. What design features would make it possible for you to use a cell phone? Tell the people running the survey!

I’m guessing that probably not very many other deaf-blind people have participated in the survey so far. That makes it especially important to recruit more deaf-blind people. If you have any friends who are Deaf-Blind, please do alert them to the survey.


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22 Responses to “Help Improve Cell Phones for Deaf People! (And also for Deaf-Blind People)”

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Thanks, McConnell — but, 1. How small and portable/foldable is it, and, 2. Will it operate with the Sidekick II? Because my recollection is when I bought it that the Sidekick doesn’t really have the option of plugging in a keyboard? Or have I been most annoyingly confused all these years?!

Simple. Telecommunication Corps are interested with a huge market $$$ – to survive the business competition. Don’t you know this??? Deaf community is tooo SMALL market compared to hearing market. Any corps won’t accept it PERIOD. It’s sad and unfair. Accept the reality. Unless, deaf billioniare invested his own telecom. 😉 thumbs up!

Small? 20 million Americans make a “small” market? (when you include elderly people in those figures, that’s how many of us have some degree of hearing loss!)

And, this feedback gathering process is happening BECAUSE companies are SEEKING OUT the input of people with disabilities generally about how well we are able to use their products. There’s always some company out there that is seeking out a new “niche” or speciality market.

So what’s the harm? Take 15 minutes of your time to fill out the survey; it could help more than you think!

what about the hearing family of a deaf person too? my daughter is deaf, we are very close and enjoy long conversations on instant messaging on the computer. However, i have yet to find a affordable plan that would allow me to have conversations (as a hearing mom would have with a hearing daughter) with my daughter when out of town, or even away from my computer. Sidekick is ok, but small screen for older eyes and arthritic fingers. And, the plan to go along with sidekick is 20.00 extra (plus the minutes you have to pay for monthly) monthly!!More than most of us folks out there can afford right now!

20 million but how many real deaf? Majority of them is hard of hearing using vco. Look at history. Wyndtell pagers sold 23,000 only. Sidekick pagers sold to deaf customers about 50,000 plus. 30,000 vp only. Where is 19,950,000???? Reality! Hearing subscribers average of at least 20 million. Compare them! Plus hearing uses voice plans that is mandatoy revenue! While deaf features are low revenue no voice plan. Got it? That’s why its impossible: unless the deaf billioniare donate special mobile phones or invest it with full of risks. Deaf market is not stable.

[…] Help Improve Cell Phones for Deaf People! (And also for Deaf-Blind People) «… I m hailing all deaf-blind people especially because I am sure that deaf-blind people must run into enormous barriers in accessing cell phones.If you don t have a cell phone right now, then this is your… […]

I saw the deaf people have cell phones
from works as school, too and they’re
pay for monthly $$. I can’t have cell
phone and I will buy one.


Cellphones designed specially for the deaf and hard hearing should have high quality software texting features capability.

Cellphones designed specially for the deaf and hard hearing should have high quality software texting features.

I’ve set up a (currently small and inactive) group on facebook called “Support Deaf accomodation by Cell Phone Company”. I’m not too sure what the ADA would say about cell phone companies not providing a data-only plan for all of their data-accessible phones for the deafs. That what I intend to find out. (I’m just quite a bit busy right now getting ready to move though so right now I’m just letting peoples knows about this group)

[…] only really gotten more busy just now. So a Blogger saw a comment I left on one of her article, Help Improve Cell Phones for Deaf People! (And also for Deaf-Blind People) ReunifyGally. now she have posted another article to help spread the fact that cell phone company should […]

A very Nice Website Ive seen Uptill. Excellent post. Keep it up! Good day

I’m pretty sure… that if your deaf and blind… you DONT use a cell phone. Just a guess though. O… and they cant do surveys… especially on the computer.

Ya know, i read this a second time. YOU CANT TALK TO DEAF – BLIND PEOPLE VIA INTERNET. IT DOESNT WORK. IF FACT YOU CANT TALK TO OR REACH THEM PERIOD. Unless you are standing next to them. stupid… now if your blind OR deaf, this article is great. But you specifically address deaf-blind people… which means you are ignorant. bye


I happen to know quite a number of DEAF-BLIND people who do, in fact use the internet. There are screen-reading systems that can “translate” text (emails, some web pages, some file formats such as Word) into a Braille read-out. Deaf-blind people with the right technology are entirely able to communicate via the Internet. I should know. I have communicated with plenty of them.

Instead of slamming people for being “stupid” for saying things you don’t expect, how about taking the time to actually EDUCATE yourself about the technologies that are available to deaf, blind, AND deaf-blind people? You might find that the people you assume are “stupid” are more aware than you think.

Andrea Shettle, MSW

Ok i was a bit harsh… but don’t you dare put words in my mouth that i said that deaf-blind people are stupid…

“You might find that the people you assume are “stupid” are more aware than you think.”

Now the reason i put this here is to sum this up. I hope this is directed towards me calling you stupid, and not calling deaf-blind people stupid. I would never make fun of someone for a condition that they can not help. I feel much sympathy for them.

If it was directed towards me saying that, you need to re-word it. And yes, i did jump to the gun. Thats what being drunk on the internet does. And i apologize. I fully support the advancements made to make people with those conditions life easier.

Yes, I had interpreted it as you calling me stupid. Which I had not appreciated. It had not occurred to me that you would interpret it otherwise, therefore it did not occur to me to amplify my meaning.

I know, or have met, deaf-blind people with BA degrees and MA degrees, including one deaf-blind woman with an MA degree in computer programming!! I don’t think they are interested in your sympathy — only in your support for the laws and technologies they need to live up to their full potential.

Thank you,

I said i have sympathy for them… im not saying that i feel sorry that they are less of a person or anything. Dont tell me what they are thinking because you do not know. I don’t know why people like you always shoot people down when they say “o, I’m sorry that your bind” they don’t know what else to say… really there is nothing to say. So stop the uppity bullshit, and take someone’s apology. I will not be coming back to this forum so don’t waste your time responding. And they fact that if you are stupid… you could be. How would i know. Your just the kind of person that thinks they know everything, and i cant stand it. I would say try to be humble sometime, but i feel that you couldnt be, goodbye.

Andrea: I totally agree with you. I am hard of hearing, and what Jack is saying makes him a jerk. He has no respect for Deaf culture, or ehat I have learned so far about it in my ASL class. Deaf-blind people are in no way stupid, and they don’t likie being felt bad for.

Cutos to you for stnading by your knowledge of the Deaf Community!

Jack: You are a jerk. You should know better that Deaf and Blind people don’t like being felt sorry for because they are able bodied people. Remember: they are people, maybe with a disability, but people nonetheless.

it would be a good idea to make phones for deaf-blind. would it be braile?

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