Best Cell Phones for Visually Impaired Seniors: 2021 Buyer’s Guide [AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon & More]
By Christina Thompson
The best cell phones for visually impaired seniors are different than the best cell phones for young adults because of their focus on usability, accessibility, and ease of navigation. Many visually impaired seniors prefer to use cell phones that are equipped with vision-assist technology because they can make calls, send text messages, and use internet applications with ease. Vision-assist technology can make using a cell phone easier for senior citizens because they can choose a screen size that is large enough for them to see and tap easily. For example, the largest currently available cell phone screen size is five inches, preventing many seniors from holding the phone up to their eyes and using the phone without assistance.
Other features that are important to older adults include large backlit screens, large buttons, text-to-speech technology, and downloadable applications. Many seniors prefer to use cell phones with voice dialing because it helps them to make calls with less effort. Another technology that is important to seniors is easy-to-use menus and icons.
One key feature that has been ignored by cell phone manufacturers is the ability to navigate the phone using a large, accessible keypad. Most cell phones have a keypad that is too small for visually impaired seniors to navigate with ease. It is difficult for many older adults to press the buttons of the keypad, especially if their fingers are thick or arthritic. This difficulty makes it harder for seniors to navigate through menus, call the phone book, or send text messages. The best cell phones for visually impaired seniors do not have touchscreens because touchscreens are difficult to use for seniors and slow them down.
If you are interested in the best cell phones for visually impaired seniors, some of the features you will look for are large, easy-to-use keypads, text-to-speech technology, and large backlit screens. Here are some additional things you should know:
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Phones for Blind People: How do they work?
There are many types of adaptive technology products on the market today. The best one to choose would depend on the needs of the visually impaired user. If, for example, the user needs text to be read aloud, the best choice is a text-to-speech device. If the user needs screen magnifiers or enlargers, the best choice would be one that has the largest screen associated with it.
The best way to make sure that the phone you choose is best suited for the needs of the visually impaired user is to check with the phone manufacturer to see what accessibility features are included.
Cell Phones for Visually Impaired Seniors: What Do I Look For?A study from the University of California San Francisco determined that the cell phones that would be best suited for visually impaired seniors would be ones that included at least some of the following features:
- A big, bright display screen
- A tactile (touch) entry system
- Easy access to the intuitive (touch) menus
- Voice recognition
- Complete, multimedia (including high-quality sound, video, and text) capabilities
- A built-in magnifier for those hard-to-see fonts and graphics
- The ability to connect with assistive technology (AT)
- The ability for the senior to connect with a live, personal, voice-activated “assistant”
- The ability to connect to other cell phones and tablets for an “alternate” means of communication
5 Top-Rated Voice-Activated Cell Phones
1. Jitterbug Smart3 Cell PhonePrice: $112.49
Description: With its easy-to-navigate menu, voice typing, and video chat, you’ll enjoy staying connected to friends and family with the Jitterbug Smart3. In emergencies big or small, just press the Urgent Response button and a certified Urgent Response Agent will get you the help you need. You can also speak to a board-certified doctor or registered nurse, enjoy affordable car service, and much more.
- Large 6.2-inch screen
- Simple, list-based menu
- Voice typing
- Video chat
- High-quality camera
- Long-lasting battery
- Powerful speaker
- Mobile internet access
- Brain Games keep your mind active
- How-to guides right on your phone
2. Jitterbug Flip2 Cell PhonePrice: $44.99
Description: This flip phone has a long list of accessibility features, including big buttons, a large screen, Amazon Alexa integration, simple list-based menu navigation, urgent response 24/7. Urgent Care feature that lets you speak with a nurse or doctor from the comfort of your own home with no appointment or co-pay necessary. Lively Link app gives your loved ones peace of mind by keeping them updated on your health and safety. Nationwide coverage and US-based customer support.
3. Tianhoo Senior Flip PhonePrice: $79.90
Description: This flip Phone is designed specifically for seniors and features big buttons, dual card, 3.5 inch display, a wide-angle camera, bright LED light, and arcs that provide perfect hand feeling. Large and clear icons help with poor eyesight. Automatically connects to Bluetooth. With the SOS button, you can quickly make calls, send messages and location information to the preset contacts when needed (this function can also be turned off); built-in WhatsApp and skype, keep in touch at any time. Charging Dock Speaker
- Speaker charging cradle
- Loud speaker
- Ergonmic design
- 2000mAh BIG Battery bringing up to 10 days of standby time
- SOS Button
- 5MP+2MP Camera & 3.5inch Display
4. Jethro SC490 4G Bar Style Cell PhonePrice: $89.99
Description: This cell phone has a simple design that is very easy to use and is hearing aid compatible. Big screen & large buttons that make seeing, reading, and dialing simple. Hearing aid compatibility that keeps voices clear, and a loudspeaker that makes all calls easy to hear. An SOS button that keeps you safe in case of emergencies. Speed-dials and a speaking keypad that makes navigation and calling easy.
- Large Screen & Keypad – Vivid big screen makes it easy to see and read the content. The keypad is specially designed with large buttons so you can easily see and feel the keypad, even in the dark.
- SOS Emergency Button – SOS emergency button can call and text up to 5 contacts, include 911 as one of them. It will also send out a text message to these contacts if no one answers.
- Nationwide Coverage – Runs off of fast, nationwide 4G network with strong signal coverage. SC490 is compatible with most of the major carriers in the US and Canada, such as Jethro Mobile, T-Mobile, Rogers, Telus, Bell, and any carriers that operate off these networks
- Hearing Aid Compatible – The M4/T4 cutting edge HAC Hearing aid compatibility enhances the call quality without signal interference. Speed-dials and a speaking keypad that makes navigation and calling easy
- Long-Lasting Battery – The 1600 mAh large capacity battery allows your phone to stay charged days without worrying about running out of power.
- Convenient Dock – You can drop the phone into the docking station to charge it easily and rapidly.
- More Features – SC490 also has many other popular features such as a Camera, Flashlight, FM Radio, Calendar, Alarm, and more
- Local Support – Jethro offers 100% U.S-Canada based customer support via phone, email, and live chat
5. Ushining Seniors Cell PhonePrice: $60.98
Description: This easy to use basic cell phone applies the latest operating system, larger fonts, clearer menu icons, surprisingly high volume and high-definition loudspeakers, built-in audio, video player, Bluetooth, external FM audio, calculators, alarm clocks, calendars, and it can store up to 100 phone book entries. Equipped with a charging dock, very convenient to charge the phone.
- Large screen: 2.4 inch HD big landscape screen
- 30 Meters Flashlight – Super high brightness. Torch up to 30 meters for using in the dark. Make it safer for elderly people when they get up during the night.
- Big button: Big button and number keypad
- Large and Clear Voice – Box speaker, amplifying speakerphone maximum volume up to 110 dB
- Hearing aid compatible: HAC Ideal for the customers with hearing aid devices, Brand speaker ensures every conversation is loud and clear
- External FM radio: No need for headphones, you can enjoy FM radio pleasure
- SOS button: You can set 5 SOS call numbers
- Big Font: Extra big font is easy to see and check for seniors that are visually impaired
- Convenient Charging Base – Special design charging cradle for seniors, simply put the phone in and charge the phone, easy to charge.
5 Top-Rated Cell Phones for Visually Impaired Seniors
1. Lucia Cell PhonePrice: $360.00
This cell phone for blind or visually impaired or hard of hearing people is the easiest to use. It has a keyboard with large tactile buttons for the visually impaired. Accessible buttons are all in different shapes so that they are easy to locate.
- Comes with long battery life and is high-quality Swiss made.
- Has a voice guide, which gives you the independence to use the cell phone.
- Comes with a large display and large characters which makes calling and texting easy.
- Has an emergency SOS button, along with customizable SOS dialing.
- Supports multiple languages such as English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch
2. Google Pixel Cell PhonePrice: $478.78
Superfast. Super helpful. Google Pixel is probably the best cell phone for blind people with its great talk-back features. The latest smartphones in this series are Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 plus. Always be the first – certain accessibility applications developed by Google are first available on Pixel devices. They will receive the update prior to any other device, and this will keep you up to date with the ever added features.
- Live Caption for Media and Voice and Video Calls
- Live Transcribe, the Google Recorder and Sound Notification
- Google Recorder records and transcribes audio
- Sound Notifications designed to alert individuals with hearing loss of sounds in their environment
- Make it Louder – Amplification of Audio with Sound Amplifier
- Hearing Aid Compatibility and Hearing Aid Support
3. iPhonePrice: $485.78
iPhone is another great phone which comes with great accessibility features for the differently-abled. With the iPhone, you can always keep up with the latest tech and use advanced features. All the cell phones for the blind have voice-enabled features and so does the iPhone. It supports a number of languages for voice over which makes it widely popular. The gestures are handy and the voice-over will read everything occurring on the phone screen.
- Gestures and voiceover make it easy-to-use.
- Announces calls, tells about battery life and the app you tap on.
- The voiceover works with all in-built apps and a number of third-party apps.
- Allows you to change the text typing and speed accuracy for the texting on the voiceover settings.
4. BLU Tank IIPrice: $21.99
Built-in SOS button users can easily gain access to the police, medical, or Firefighter at the press of a button. Built-in flashlight, 2.4” display and large numerical keypad, MP3/MP4, FM radio, and VGA Camera.
- Streamlined Design Inspired
- Life Matters built in SOS button user can easily gain access to the police, medical , or fire fighter at the press of a button.
- Built in flash light allow for quick light up in the dark environments.
- Generous 2.4″ display for a clear view.
- Hours Of Entertainment, capture great pictures and video with its VGA camera. Tune in your favorite music stations on its FM Radio.
- Dual SIM Inside so you can take advantage of different voice/data plans for better rates, better coverage, and separate bills.
4. RAY L5Price: $499.99
Based on thousands of hours of research and testing with visually impaired users, the Ray L5 combines the benefits of a modern, powerful, touch-based smartphone with the ease of use offered by the traditional tactile device. The Ray L5 includes a keypad, large buttons, and a tactile navigation wheel and operates with the Ray Vision app to ensure you enjoy all the benefits of digital connectivity.
- Full tactile keyboard and four-keys navigation pad that enables tactile control and clickable entry of numbers and letters
- Gestures interface – When folded and closed, the device has a touch screen that operates like any touch device and enables gestures-based control and touch-based access to Android
- Remote assistance – you will never be left in the dark.
- Tag identifier – Programmable tag reader with unique labels to identify NFC tags.
- Powerful media including audio books, music center, podcast server, and internet radio.
- Premium GPS navigation includes ‘where am I’, ‘what’s around me’ and step-by-step directions.
- Contact list management including: voice recognition, dial by name, quick-dial numbers, favorite contacts, and call history.
- Send and receive text messages and emails!
- Schedule and record messages at any time with the touch of a button. The Scheduler application allows the remote setting of appointments and alarms.
- Visual identifications – Color and currency identification. Visual remote assistance allows users to open the video camera to show a professional staff member.
Top Vision-Impaired Apps for SeniorsThere are many apps (apps are downloadable software programs) for visually impaired seniors, including:
Apple’s VoiceOver Apple’s VoiceOver is a voice-activated screen reader. It provides the option of adjusting speaker volume, turning on/off-screen magnification, or turning on text-to-speech. This app is easily accessible through the “Accessibility” area of the iPhone’s control center. Google Goggles If you have the right technical specs, this app allows you to search the Web using your camera. When you snap a picture of an object, it will search Google and return a list of possible matches with links to the Web. The app also provides spoken results. This app comes with the Android operating system. IFTTT (If This Then That) This app allows you to create a recipe for your phone to respond to certain situations. For example, you can have your phone remind you to take your medicine or turn off the lights. This app comes with the Android operating system. JAWS WS (WebSpeech) WebSpeech is available for the Mac and Windows platforms, and it enables users with visual impairments to use text-to-speech technology to convert on-screen messages into speech. This app comes with the Windows operating system. Assistive Touch Assistive Touch gives you virtual buttons. These virtual buttons allow you to navigate your device without having to touch it. It comes with a virtual home button, volume buttons, a back button, a screenshots button, and more. It can also turn off your screen without clicking any buttons. It’s an excellent choice for those who have problems with those kinds of tasks. Live Transcribe Live Transcribe is a powerful new app for the hearing impaired. It can listen and translate what someone says into text for easy comprehension. However, the app is also capable of understanding deaf speak and translating that for other people as well. It works very similarly to how Google Translate works, except with a focus for the hard of hearing instead of switching languages. Android Accessibility Suite Android Accessibility Suite (formerly Google Talkback) is an accessibility feature. Its goal is to help the visually impaired navigate their devices. You can activate it through the Settings menu. The app will then help the visually impaired interact with their devices. It’s fairly basic but effective. It adds things like vibration, spoken, and audible feedback.
Best AT&T Cell Phones for Visually Impaired SeniorsAT&T offers several cell phone choices for seniors with hearing loss, including the Smartflip by Alcatel. iPhone XR, Cingular Flip IV, Pixel 5, DuraXE Epic, Sonim-XP3, models. These phones are comparable with hearing aids, feature a large, bright display screen, an easy-to-use keypad with large buttons, video calling and chat, visual voicemail, full QWERTY keyboards, predictive text or autocomplete, and loud sound. They also have voice control technology.
Other cell phones that are available in the AT&T lineup and are specially designed for seniors with visual impairments include the AT&T 702 Navigator Series and the AT&T 648 Navigator Series. The AT&T 702 Navigator, a new model in their Navigation line has a large, bright display screen, an easy-to-use keypad, voice-activated menus, and text-to-speech technology. It also has a built-in section for displaying maps.
Best Verizon Phones for The BlindVerizon offers several options for blind seniors, including the Raz, LUCIA, Smart Vision 2, Smart Vision 2 Premium, Mini Vision Lite, Mini Vision, BlindShell, LG Spirit, and the LG Inflemera. These phones have a large, bright display screen, an easy-to-use keypad, and loud sound. They also have voice recognition and text-to-speech technology.
The LG Spirit comes with the Android operating system, while the LG Inflemera runs the Windows operating system.
Best T-Mobile Cell Phones for the BlindT-Mobile offers several options for the blind, including the Samsung Victory and the Samsung Rumble. These phones are similar to the Samsung Fascinate, which is available through T-Mobile. Both feature a large, bright display screen, an easy-to-use keypad, loud sound, voice recognition, text-to-speech (text-to-voice) technology, and a built-in radio. It also has a tool for turning the display screen on or off.
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Other cell phones that are available through T-Mobile and are specially designed for seniors with visual impairments include the T-Mobile 676 Navigator and the T-Mobile 688 Navigator. The T-Mobile 676 Navigator, a new model in their Navigation line has a large, bright display screen, an easy-to-use keypad, voice-activated menus, text-to-speech technology, and a built-in radio. It also has a tool for turning the display screen on or off.
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