Verizon Wireless Launches TALKS for Customers with Visual Impairments
Verizon Wireless released TALKS for Verizon Wireless, a new assistive technology that converts displayed text into speech for users with visual impairments.
The offering is powered by Nuance Communications, uses ETI-Eloquence text-to-speech (TTS), and is a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone.
According to Joyce Figula, director of marketing operations at Verizon Wireless, the solution came about because the company wanted to offer a fully accessible tool for customers with visual impairments.
“We wanted to make sure that we had a good experience for all of our customers and certainly the customer who is blind or has low vision has a specific need and that would be for a device to actually talk to them,” Figula says. “We wanted to meet the needs of those particular customers and the community."
Available initially on the MOTO Q 9c smartphone, TALKS for Verizon Wireless supports audio feedback for writing and reading text messages, email, and notes.
According to Figula, TALKS speaks everything on the handset of a mobile device to users with visual impairments and will identify icons, assist with menu navigation, and read messages.
With TALKS, the MOTO Q 9c can:
- read the caller ID of an incoming call;
- dial a number from the phone’s contacts directory;
- add and edit entries in the contacts directory;
- read and write text messages and email;
- read and write documents using Mobile Office;
- access and compose multimedia message service (MMS) messages;
- use Mobile Internet Explorer to access the Internet; and
- control speech volume and rate of speech.
“It enables someone who is blind or with low vision to be able to fully use their phone,” Figula says, noting that reaction to the product—which already has subscribers—has thus far been very positive.
“This is one of many products that we hope to offer in the future,” she says. “We certainly hope to offer additional products this year with this capability.”