1. James Rahrig's Avatar
    My wife is blind and would like a few more features / capabilities added to the personal assistant. This phone is a critical link for her as you may well imagine, as it is for many blind people who strive to retain some measure of independence.

    1. Verbal responses to common questions like, "What time is it?".
    2. Verbal response to general questions - like text to speech reading the search results (possibly enumerated) and prompting for a selection.
    3. Read text messages on demand, with possibly a follow up question from Cortana for which of the last few/several messages received should be read.
    4. Ability to set things like alarm sound and repeat (recurrence) of the alarm for weekdays, or specify days of the week.


    I'm sure others will have more input to offer, and we all look forward to the incremental improvements that will foster a more intuitive experience for the visually impaired.
    12-09-2014 10:37 PM
  2. taymur's Avatar
    I second this.
    12-10-2014 06:05 AM
  3. rhapdog's Avatar
    I agree with all of that. Much more needs to be done.

    In the meantime, you should contact Microsoft directly with your requests to see if they have any easy access features they are working on that she may be able to assist with in the testing phase.

    As far as getting the time, "What time is it", this is possible with a 3rd party app. I'm using an app called "Her Time" in the Windows Phone Store. It's free, and allows you to get the time, date, day of the week, day of the year, week of the year, etc. by using voice commands and receiving voice responses.

    As far as incoming text messages, if you have a Bluetooth headset, then Windows Phone can be set up to notify you by voice that you have received a text, and ask if you want to read it or ignore it. If you respond, "Read it", then it will read the text message aloud to you. It will then give you the option to reply to the text and assist you by voice in composing a return text message.

    There is no current ability to "read text messages on demand," however, you can have them read as they arrive.

    Also, be sure to note that there are now smart phones that are designed specifically for the blind. One even has a tactile braille screen for reading what's on the screen. Sometimes instead of adapting a tool for your needs, it can be best to find the tool that fits the need properly in the first place.
    12-10-2014 09:47 AM
  4. James Rahrig's Avatar
    In the meantime, you should contact Microsoft directly with your requests to see if they have any easy access features they are working on that she may be able to assist with in the testing phase.
    - Good Idea. I'll look into that.

    As far as getting the time, "What time is it", this is possible with a 3rd party app. I'm using an app called "Her Time" in the Windows Phone Store. It's free, and allows you to get the time, date, day of the week, day of the year, week of the year, etc. by using voice commands and receiving voice responses.
    - I'm not familiar with this app and may give it a try. I am a programmer from waaaay back and may investigate coding a few apps of my own.

    Reading incoming messages was not mentioned because it was not an issue, and you don't need to have a bluetooth device to use it. Can be done by enabling 'Speach for Accessibility' in the 'Ease of Access' settings menu.

    The narrator, by the way, is almost useless. More of an annoyance than anything else.

    "Sometimes instead of adapting a tool for your needs, it can be best to find the tool that fits the need properly in the first place.
    ~~Thank you Captain Obvious.~~ The phone with Windows 8.0 had accessibility functions including voice readout of the screen as you moved your finger over the tiles. These were replaced with the narrator and Cortana when 8.1 is installed. (Figure that one out) Since Cortana is no substitute for true accessibility needs and the narrator is a lead balloon, I'm offering some feedback.

    Further, specialty phones for the blind are EXPENSIVE and financially out of reach for a household like mine. I make too much money to qualify for assistance, and not enough to get the equivalent benefits of the indigent. Love the new normal? Not me.
    12-20-2014 10:31 PM

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