I was aged 14 when I was told I had Ushers Syndrome Type 2. I was devastated and my dreams for the future were gone in a single moment. Being faced with the bleak reality of slowly losing your sight would be hard for anyone, let alone a young teenager already struggling with typical teenage problems. As the years went by with the emotional rollercoaster of being registered visually impaired at 16 and then being registered as legally blind at age 19, I learnt how to be more optimistic as I grew tired of wallowing in self-pity and not taking opportunities while I still could see. I learnt more and more about the concept of accessibility and that I wasn’t as limited in my abilities as I once thought. I became more aware of the importance of accessibility to people like me, I got frustrated at the lack of it even in today’s modern era.
I have always been a fan of Apple products due to their settings, a whole subsection dedicated to accessibility with amazing features such as Magnifier, larger and bolder text and specific volume controls for hearing aids. Since the Molly Watt Trust has kindly given me an Apple iWatch Series 1, I have taken advantage of its array of features which has already made certain aspects in my day to day life so much easier. I recently took up running and it is much more convenient using my Apple iWatch which has a fitness activity app which helps me record my daily activity. If I have important incoming calls or texts when I’m out and about or running, then I can answer from my iWatch rather than getting out my iPhone which could easily be dropped. One of my favourite features would be the Extra-Large Watch Face which make it easier for users with low vision to see the time and means I can quickly glance at it when I am on the move rather than getting out my phone and squinting for the time.
Due to the Bluetooth connectivity between my iPhone and my iWatch, I can leave my iPhone charging and still go about my day with my iWatch as my calls and messages will also appear on my iWatch’s screen and I can answer them accordingly. Apple iWatch also includes a range of settings to meet the needs of people with a wide variety of sight loss not just RP. These includes Zoom, Grayscale, Reduce Transparency, Mono Audio and much more. These settings can also be controlled and altered through the Apple iWatch iPhone app.
The only downside with the iWatch is that it can drain a lot of battery life from my iPhone which means I have to charge both my iPhone and iWatch overnight but aside from that I think Apple has really pushed the boundaries of accessibility by designing their products to meet the needs of visually impaired users, the Apple iWatch Series 1 has ticked all the boxes for me.
The biggest learning curve for me was actually putting the aids on! After a lifetime of ear moulds and stiff tubing it took a few