Thursday, December 15, 2005

Vodacom Helps the Blind or Visually Impaired

Vodacom has announced the availability of three new Vodacom Speaking Phones. The Vodacom Speaking Phone affords people who are blind or visually impaired full access to cellular communication services, including data services such as text messaging, network information such as signal strength and cellphone information such as battery power status.

Vodacom is continuing to work closely and in conjunction with blind customers, as well as organisations such as the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB). “These parties have played an invaluable role in guiding Vodacom to understand the communication requirements of customers who are blind or visually impaired,” says Mthobi Tyamzashe, Vodacom Executive Director, Corporate Affairs.

In September 2004, Vodacom was the third cellphone operator in the world, after its UK-based shareholder Vodafone Group, to launch the Speaking Phone to customers. Customers can choose between three new Vodacom Speaking Phones, including the Nokia 6670, the Nokia 3230 and the Nokia 6680.

Most of the inherent features of a cellphone becomes fully accessible to a blind customer, including viewing, creating, and editing contacts, choosing a ringtone, activating and using bluetooth, taking photos and creating and sending SMS and MMS messages to name just a few. With the latest Talks software version (v 2.0) loaded onto the new Speaking Phones, access to the Internet is a new feature and available for the first time.

“Getting to the functions is the key” says 20 year old Jennine, “I’m able to access all the functions on my Speaking Phone and I can do everything my friends can do. With the Nokia 3230 I can take photos, listen to the radio and send messages to my friends, it is so cool!”

“Vodacom continually upgrades products and services to ensure the latest technology and functionality are available to our customers, making sure that Vodacom’s services are accessible to all. Millions of South Africans with disabilities will greatly benefit from access to communication services and this is an important focus for Vodacom,” says Tyamzashe.

In September 2005, Vodacom launched the Vodacom Voice Bill service, which allows full access to billing information with the use of reader software on their PC. “When you are blind or visually impaired, the spoken word becomes increasingly important, which is why we launched the Vodacom Voice Bill to ensure that our cellphone billing information is accessible to customers who are visually impaired,” Tyamzashe says.

For more information about the new Vodacom Speaking Phone models and the Vodacom Voice Bill, customers can contact the Specific Needs call centre by dialing 12580, free from a Vodacom cellphone or 082 12580 from any other phone. Information is also available under the Specific Needs section on Vodacom’s website at

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