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Wednesday, 10 February 2016 20:46

Applewatch Awesome but Hearing Aids Disappoint

I recently received an applewatch from The Molly Watt Trust, via their GlobalGiving project.

I love gadgets. I have ushers syndrome type 3 which is gradually robbing me of both my hearing and my sight.  My vision is now about 3 degrees and my hearing which is moderate to severe and will get worse.

There is nothing to aid my eyesight but thankfully I use NHS Phonak hearing aids to hear, in a small way they compensate a little for my blindness, life is very challenging.  I also rely on Jason my guide dog.

As my condition deteriorated I was unable to continue with my career.

As a result I now keep myself busy travelling around carrying out charity work for various charities.

Travelling is very challenging, however, I am very determined.

I recently upgraded my phone to the iPhone 6s plus yes it's big but I can see it.  The accessibility is fantastic and there are so many useful apps.  I really don't know how I managed before.

I also have the latest Phonak hearing aids from the NHS and a Phonak ComPilot neck loop which works brilliantly with my iPhone and iPad so really important to me for simple things like taking calls while I work my guide dog with ease.  I can listen to music or watch a video on my phone in a crowded place or on the train, the sound streaming directly to my hearing aids.

I had read so much about the applewatch and couldn't wait to set it up and synchronise everything.

I’ve become quite good at ‘pairing’ and ‘syncing’ and I could not work out why I could not answer a phone call on my applewatch, I fiddled around, I contacted both Connevans and  Phonak, to find out what I was doing wrong to eventually be told by Phonak that their equipment is not compatible with applewatch I am absolutely gutted that I am not stream sound from the applewatch apps using speech, yes tactics are fantastic but being able to stream sound directly to my hearing aids would allow me full accessibility to many more apps.

I really struggle to hear a call on my applewatch also I don't really want everybody else to hear my conversations meaning I am missing out on accessibility that would make a difference to my daily life.

Thankfully the maps on the applewatch use taptics, something new to me and brilliant for the deafblind as it vibrates in sequences for turning left or right.

If I could get sound streamed direct to my hearing aids that would be perfect.

I am an independent guy and I like to plan as many routes as possible on my own, the last thing I want is to look vulnerable in a city with a guide dog.

My verdict so far,  "applewatch is brilliant, it is making my life easier" but Phonak hearing aids and ComPilot are a let down.

It is so frustrating that I could have the very best connectivity and accessibility but sadly not with the hearing aids and equipment I have .


Tuesday, 02 February 2016 15:05

Applewatch Accessibility and Connectivity

To quickly introduce myself, am Colin and I have Usher Syndrome type 3, the rarest of the Usher types.  

I recently received a letter to collect a package from the post office, pretty handy for me as its right beside the train station and I was on my way to Glasgow . 

I picked up the parcel and signed for it or should I say the postmaster did, very kind of him as he had spotted Jason my guide dog . 

I was very inquisitive as to what could be in that box and was wishing for the train to hurry up so I could open my parcel.

The train approached and I was on my way  another two hour journey to Glasgow, however, this time it was going to be a very exciting journey that would fly by!

As I opened the box I realised it was an applewatch.

I had applied to The Molly Watt Trust for an applewatch after reading about their current project https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/deafblind-need-access-to-life-enhancing-technology/ which came about as a result of Molly's outstanding blog showing just how enabling the watch can be to people with Usher Syndrome.

I am delighted to have received an applewatch from This project, I had admired the watch in my local Apple Store on numerous occasions after reading Molly's blog but couldn't afford to buy one.

My first impressions, very smart in black and very very stylish.

Fortunately I had my battery pack on me so figured out how to charge the watch with the magnet on the back of the watch - very clever and simple, I was impressed already.

I switched on and paired it with my iPhone very very quickly by following the simple steps and scanning my watch with my phone.

I then went on a magical journey sussing out the basics of the applewatch.

Apple products are brilliant, particularly their accessibility features, but are very expensive.

As I began to play and find out more and paired my Apps I realised not all apps swapped over from my phone as not all are applewatch compatible, hopefully more and more will be going forward, but I'm still very impressed.

I was struggling with the concept of how an earth can I zoom in but I am getting to grips with the zoom feature.

I was also excited to pair it with my Phonak ComPilot today so I can answer calls on my applewatch and hear audible apps via the watch rather than just my iPhone to my hearing aids.

The first day I found it a minefield of new and exciting features but very similar to the iPhone in many ways but I seriously can't wait to find out more about this incredibly useful, deafblind friendly piece of kit. Here's to day 2

Day 2 was very interesting as I found out I could change the clock face so for now it's Mickey Mouse.  I love the way you can change the style for every occasion . 

Also looking at the strap yet again you can tell someone has spent a lot of time thinking of a different solution to hide the strap by tucking it behind, nice touch . 

Yesterday's mission was to pair my Bluetooth hearing aids to my Phonak compilation neck loop this I did with a varying degree of success and drained the battery quickly as searching for Bluetooth devices generally does.  The end result was it works on music through my hearing aids but not on the phone perhaps I've got a setting wrong along the line.

Also playing with the applephone last night I realised all the watch settings are on the iPhone watch app so today I will dig deeper. 

Overall view for day 2 frustrated about hearing aid connection to applewatch but sure there must be a way to overcome this, on the plus side clarity is very very good.

I cannot get over how stylish it actually is and I need to find out so much more.

iPhone is not rocket science but a form of sequences just like all Apple products I just need to get used to where everything is.

Yesterday I thought I made huge progress as I set up a route and followed it to the letter. 

I set it up on maps on my iPhone then experienced the taps on the wrist to indicate right or left sounds like an indicator on the car, this is brilliant.

I also found loads more apps like a money converter calculator speedometer also city tours very handy on a city break.  I even managed to put voiceover on and put my screen lock on at the same time also my screen locked out which threw me out a bit! I got a friend to google this and soon put it right.

I got somebody to google how to sort it out and sorted it out on my iPhone, it's easy just go to the App. 

I can honestly say like all Apple products the more its used the better it is . 

I'm still learning and loving my new applewatch.

I find the Taptic feature on maps a godsend, being deafblind getting lost is easy, however, so far maps have been brilliant I'm getting from a to be with ease and accuracy.

I also like the gimmicks like charging the applewatch sideways and how  it turns in to a digital clock, very nice touch. 

Also been playing with lots of accessible new apps, the only problem, irritation is trying to get my Phonak hearing aids and neck loop to stream from my applewatch!

I notice Molly Watt uses ReSound Linx2 hearing aids which have full connectivity to all apple products so hopefully there is a way with Phonak, fingers crossed, I will keep tinkering.




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