Candy Lien (former employee from ND Vision Services/School for the Blind) recently wrote an article for the ND Association of the Blind’s newsletter, and she agreed to allow us to use it for this blog.  Candy describes her experience with the new Blind Shell Classic phone and I thought it would be beneficial for our blog audience.  For more information, the Blind Shell has a YouTube Channel where you can go to find more information.  I have also included a comparison YouTube video link between the Blind Shell Phone and the Lucia Phone at the end of the blog.

Blind Shell Classic Phone By Candy Lien

Photo of Candy using her Blind Shell Classic Phone.

Are you tired of tapping, swiping, and all those other gestures required to use your phone? Are you ready to move up to a more advanced phone from your basic flip phone? If so, the Blind Shell Classic may be the phone for you. I recently purchased a Blind Shell Classic because I was frustrated with trying to swipe and tap and using my voice and having mixed results. I also disliked using (or attempting to use) the virtual keyboard, especially when using an internal menu on a call (press 1 for this, press 2 for that). I have been very pleased with my choice.

The Blind Shell Classic (as well as its sister product, the Blind Shell Baroque II) is a phone designed specifically for use by people who are blind or have low vision. I myself am totally blind, so I will be speaking about its use for people like me, but it also has a screen for low vision users. The print on the screen can be magnified and the contrast can be adjusted. Everything, and I mean everything, on this phone speaks. There is no guessing and no need to press a button or tap a certain number of times in order to hopefully reach the menu item you are looking for. No guesswork at all!

The Blind shell is not a “smart phone,” per se, in that you cannot use it to surf the net. However, it has a plethora of useful, preloaded apps, such as a stopwatch, timer, music player, alarm, color identifier, calendar, calculator, and more. You can use the Blind Shell phone to listen to FM radio stations and to internet radio and to make your own RFID identification tags. It also has its own camera, voice recorder, and book player. The latest update provides a flashlight and access to YouTube. The battery status and connection status, as well as the current time and date, are easily accessible. It also sports a replaceable battery, and it comes with a cradle for easy charging.

Photo of Blind Shell Phone – credit Blind Shell website

The Blind Shell Classic can be operated using voice input or by pressing easy-to-feel tactile buttons. You can use the “Notes” app to record or type in notes. The Blind Shell also has an email app, which I haven’t tried using yet. You can send texts and make phone calls either using your voice or the handy keypad.

The onlysomewhat negative thing about this phone, in my opinion, is that I had to switch carriers from Verizon to AT&T. It also works with T-Mobile. To use all of the phone’s many functions, 4G is required.

I purchased my Blind Shell Classic phone from ATGuys, a company that is owned and run by visually impaired individuals, and so they understand the specific needs of those of us who are blind or have low vision. The cost was $349, with free shipping. There are video tutorials on how to use the phone, and you can access the manual on the phone itself. The menus are intuitive and easy to learn. For more information go to www.atguys.com. The AT Guys support team is very helpful if you need assistance.

If you are happy using a touch screen phone, that’s great. But if you want a different phone experience, you might want to look into the Blind Shell Classic.

Comparison of Blind Shell versus the Lucia phone

Individuals who are experiencing difficulty using their current telephone equipment are encouraged to apply to receive assistive telephone equipment through ND Assistive’s Specialized Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Service Program (TEDS).  The Blind Shell is only one of the many devices that are available on this program.

For more information or for a TEDS application, please visit ND Assistive’s website or call 800-895-4728.