New Cell Phones Serve the Visually Impaired

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In an effort to be more inclusive, Vodacom Group has launched speaking phones for customers who are blind or partially sighted.

"Vodacom is proud to increase accessibility to cellular communication products and services in line with the specific needs initiative launched in 2004," said Dot Field, chief communications officer of Vodacom Group.

The phones are loaded with text-to-speech software that converts the information displayed on the cell phone screen to speech, including text messages and contact lists. The software enables the user to check other information, including battery life and signal strength.

"Vodacom Speaking Phone users will not pay extra for the text-to-speech software, as Vodacom has subsidized this cost," Field said.

"As a disabled person, I understand how important independence, accessibility and mobility is," said Karen Smit, senior specialist for Specific Needs and Employment Equity at Vodacom Group.

"I think this is the coolest thing," said Judy Okite from Kenya. "It is high time we saw more initiatives like this."

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