Using smartphones to stay in touch - Assistive Technology Advice From Vital Tech

Using smartphones to stay in touch

Last modified: 14th April 2022

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Smartphones do so much more than traditional phones which is why all our themes have a “Using my smartphone” section. But first and foremost, smartphones are a great way to stay in touch with friends, family and the world around us.


Mainstream products

You can use your smartphone to make phone and video calls or to email, text, use social media and check the news.  Here are two videos demonstrating an iPhone being used to make and receive phone calls and texts. These tasks can also be done with other smartphones.

Answering your phone with VoiceOver

Sending texts with VoiceOver and Siri


All Apple devices have Facetime built in which is handy for making video calls with someone else using an Apple device.  WhatsApp and Google Duo apps are also popular platforms for making video calls and can operate across a range of devices.


You can keep up to date with your emails using your smartphone.  Most email accounts, for example Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook and Hotmail, can be accessed on your phone by adding as an account in Settings or installing the relevant app from the App or Play store.  More advanced users might use a combination of personal assistant and screen reader but you would need to check what works with your phone and app.


Social media is now an extremely popular way to stay in touch and the good news is that popular social media apps such as Facebook and Twitter should be accessible.


Phones can also be used to stay in touch with the world by keeping up with current affairs. Many modern smartphones come with their own news app ready to use. Mainstream news outlets such as the BBC and Sky, also offer their own news apps.


Specialist products

Mainstream smartphones have made a huge difference to increasing the independence of blind and partially sighted people.  But they do require training and persistence in learning to use them.  You might feel a smartphone is not for you at this stage. If that is the case, it would be worth considering a specialist phone or service such as In Your Pocket. These phones are much easier to use out of the box than the mainstream phones. They typically have less functionality than a mainstream smartphone so do check with the retailer that the phone can do everything you need.

You can also use your smartphone to access peer-support networks through social media.  For example, VI Talk is a Facebook group which now has thousands of members “sharing ideas, information and support”.


Handy hints

You can add key contacts to your favourites and VIP lists to make them easier to find on the device and stay in contact with.

The Amazon Echo has a drop in feature that means you can contact another connected Echo hands free.  See the Amazon help pages for more information.


Useful links

Online support groups can be helpful in using your phone.


Inclusive Android

Technology Association of Visually Impaired People (TAVIP) offers a range of support for its members, including a lovely email discussion group.