Friday, June 23, 2017

Communicating with Others using iOS Devices

Your iOS device can make communication with others on your own terms very easy to do. This is especially true once you have mastered typing, dictation using Siri, and navigating apps using VoiceOver. No matter which iOS device you get, it can be used to communicate with others. This includes the iPOD Touch which is basically and iPHONE minus the phone. There are a set of apps included in iOS especially for this purpose. In addition to these, there are more apps for various social media such as Twitter available in the app store. All of these apps tie into contact information and most of the time, tie into Siri as well. This makes communicating as effortless as possible even when you're just getting started.

The Contacts App:

The Contacts app on the home screen is your first stop. This is where you should put any contact information you have about people who you want to communicate with. iOS can then make use of that information via other apps. The more information you put in this repository, the better your iOS device will serve you as a communications aid. It is quite possible to add contacts to different groups such as for personal and work. Personally, I just have them all in a single list within the app.

Unless you change settings, contacts will be kept in alphabetical order. By using the VoiceOver rotor and turning it to headings, you can then flick up and down to the next or previous lettres. This makes for a quick and efficient browsing experience. For more control over how contacts are displayed and organised, go into the Settings app and doubletap on "contacts". You'll see settings for whether contacts are sorted by last name first or by first name. There are also settings regarding the use of short names and/or nicknames. For some languages, these settings won't apply since names are always ordered the same way.

How to Add Contacts:

Beginners may find it a chore to enter contact information. Dictation can certainly help but often, the virtual keyboard is simply the best way to do things. However, the rewards of this labour will very quickly become apparent. There is an "add" button near the top left of the screen. Double-tapping this button takes you to a form which you fill in. There are edit fields for all sorts of information. You can also use the "insert" buttons next to fields to add more things like additional phone numbers or email addresses. It's very comprehensive. You can specify different ringtones for contacts if you desire. My parents have a different ringtone assigned so I always know when it's them calling.

Some apps such as Facebook will present you with opportunities to integrate your contacts. This adds information from companies like Google and Facebook where you may have contact lists into the library of contacts on your iOS device. They will then populate your list in the "Contacts" app. Before this step is ever taken, you will always be asked to be certain you want this to happen. Generally speaking, iOS is very careful when it comes to your privacy. On that note, look in the "privacy" settings and you'll find a "contacts" category. This lets you control which apps have access to your contacts. Further along, you'll find similar buttons for Facebook and Twitter. No decision you make is ever written in stone regarding contact integration.

How to access and edit contact information:

As your contact list grows, you may want to use the "search" field near the top left of the app to quickly narrow down the selections. Type any part of the contact name into the field and you'll likely see it pop up. Flick right through the choices to arrive at the contact. Double-tapping on a contact opens it giving access to its information. You can then perform actions such as sending a message, initiating a Facetime call, sending an email, etc. The "back" button gets you out of that contact's information back to the general pool of contacts. Before doing that though, notice the edit button near the back button. This lets you access and edit the information. You can also completely delete the contact.

Once information is in the Contacts app, iOS will start using it to make the social part of life easier in many different ways. If you have an iPHONE, the first result of these efforts you're likely to notice is that you'll know who's calling. Phone calls will be identified by name. You will also be able to make use of that information from within apps like the Phone app, mail, Facetime or Messages apps. Also, Siri can use this information. This lets you order Siri to do things which is lots easier than swiping and typing especially as you're masterring the basics of VoiceOver. You can teach Siri about relationships. For example, it knows that Sara is my wife and Dan is my brother. This lets me say things like "Tell my wife I'll be late for dinner" and be understood. You can dictate text messages, emails, and Facebook posts without having to go into the respective apps first. A lot of work has gone into making Siri a good communications aid. The Contacts app is how you give your iOS device and Siri what they need to help you keep in contact with people who matter to you.

Any time you need address information, chances are you'll find an option to get it from your contacts. For instance, I sent my mother a gift from the app store and quickly got her email address thanks to the information about her in the Contacts app. Contact information is also used by the Maps and other GPS apps. This lets you ask for directions to reach addresses stored in the Contacts app. This can include transit, walking and driving directions via the Maps app, BlindSquare, or other apps which can take advantage of this pool of information.

The Phone App:

People who have iPHONEs will be happy to know that the Phone app is very comprehensive and easy to use. It was originally one of the centrepieces of the iPHONE. Making, receiving and managing calls are all very easily achieved presuming you have mastered operating the touchscreen with VoiceOver. Siri is fully integrated with this app so you can call anybody in your contacts by simply asking Siri to call the person's name. Indeed, it is perfectly possible to ask Siri to call a number which you recite. Just don't pause for too long or it will presume you've finished and won't realise you're having trouble remembering the rest of the number.

There are five tabs across the bottom of this app. They are Favourites, Recent, Contacts, Keypad, and Voicemail. Double-tapping on a tab takes you to that particular area which will occupy the rest of the screen.

Dealing With Calls:

If a call comes in, a screen pops up with numerous options. If you simply want to answer it, just double-tap with two fingers anywhere on the screen. This is also how you hang up. If you're wearing wired earpods or other headsets, there should be a button you can press to answer or end a call. On the Earpods which come with your device, it's the long indented section which fels like it's been carved out of the remote in between the two round parts which can raise or lower volume. If you're wearing AirPods, double-tap either one to answer or end a call.

You can also do other things. At the top of the incoming call screen are message and remind buttons. These will make a reminder to return the call later or respond to the call with a message you can type in. Declining a call will pass the caller on to your voicemail where he or she can leave a message. At the bottom left and right corners are decline and accept buttons. Double-tap the button you want to use. You can press the sleep-wake button twice quickly to decline a call. Pressing that button once will allow you to lock your screen so you don't hit keypad buttons.


Having contacts added to your favourites has a couple of implications. First of all, you can call them by going into the Favourites tab flicking through the list of names and simply double-tapping on the one you want. Your iPHONE will then make the call for you. Nice and speedy. Also, there are different rules regarding favourites when it comes to Do Not Disturb settings. You can have these set to always allow people on your favourites list through when they call even when in Do Not Disturb mode. I'm rather thankful for this as I would typically rather not miss a call from afamily member, good friend or my landlord.


Any calls you have missed, made or received are all shown in this tab. They are organised in chronological order with the most recent call at the top. Flick right or scroll up with three fingers to quickly move through the list of calls. It is a handy way of easily returning calls especially if the number hasn't yet been added to your contacts. Simply double-tap on the number or name to return the call. Alternatively, flick right and you'll find a "more info" button next to each item in the list. Double-tap this button to obtain any known information plug find options to add the number to your contacts thereby creating a new contact. There are other options similar to what you'll find in the Contacts app.


This tab is basically like the Contacts app. Double-tapping on a contact name will move you into that contact's entry where you'll find the usual options.


This tab gives you access to a virtual phone keypad. As you input a number, you'll even hear touchtone beeps as you would if using an actual telephone. This is good for blind people as you'll know when you've successfully entered the right digits. If you need to delete a digit, You'll find the button you need near the top right of the screen. Just below the numeric keypad but above the row of tabs, you'll find a "call" button in the middle. It's right above the Contacts tab. Double-tap that button to make a call.

During a call, the keypad is display so that you can make use of touchtone systems. There are occasions, however, when this is less than desireable as it's possible to accidentally press keys with your cheek. There is a button which hides the keypad if you wish. You'll find options right below the keypad to end the call, mute, or hide that keypad.


This last tab is a very nice addition presuming your carrier supports it. Not all phone plans come with what is called visual voicemail. Presuming you have it, this tab will be where you to go receive your messages, set your greeting, etc. Messages will be downloaded to your phone for you to easily review at your leisure. I've become quite attached to this feature and pay a small fee for a package of additional features which includes visual voicemail as part of my phone plan.

If, for whatever reason, you don't wish to use this or can't get a plan which has it, you are still able to use the normal voicemail offered by pretty much all phone companies. You simply use the keypad discussed earlier to enter your passcode and operate the menus as you would with an ordinary touchtone phone. This may prove stressful for beginners as they have yet to gain proficiency with finding and enterring digits on their touchscreens. Visual voicemail eliminates this hastle and does away with any time pressure.

To use visual voicemail, double-tap the tab and you'll find a "greeting" button near the top of the screen. This lets you record your voicemail greeting which people hear when you miss or decline their call. I don't recall needing to do any other things to set up visual voicemail. I got it some years ago and have kept it ever since. You may need to get help from your carrier. When you receive messages, they are put in a chronoligical list with the most recent messages at the top. You can simply flick through them and double-tap on a message to start it playing. Double-tap on the "more info" button next to a message if you want to get to the same contact page as you'd arrive at though the Contacts tab or the "more info" button found in the Recents tab.

You can pause a message during playback, move back or forward through it, and do other things like return the call, delete the message, etc. This makes it easy to manage messages even if you have yet to deal with the rotor and flicking gestures. It makes for a very efficient stress-free way of dealing with messages.

There are other options such as call waiting, ending a first call and receiving a call that has come in while you're on a first call, adding people to calls, etc. I suspect that carriers need to support these features. In appropriate circumstances, options will appear on the screen displayed while you are in a call.

It is also possible to be in a call while still using other apps. Simply press the home button to get out of the phone app. Your call will continue even as you do other things. There is a bar near the top left of the screen which you can double-tap to return to the call screen if you like.


This app is used to make audio or video calls to others who use iOS devices or computers supporting FaceTime. To use FaceTime, you need an Apple ID for yourself. Presuming your device has been set up, you have already created your Apple ID. You'll also need to know an Email address and/or phone number of people who you want to contact via FaceTime. This information may be found in the Contacts app or added in directly from within the FaceTime app. Once done, that person will be found in the Contacts app.

How to make a FaceTime call:

You can do this in a few ways. From inside the FaceTime app, you can double-tap on the "audio", or "video" buttons near the top of the screen. Next, double-tap a contact's name. This will make a call to that person. You can also use Siri from anywhere on your iOS device to make a call. Simply invoke Siri and then say "FaceTime" or "FaceTime audio" followed by the person's name. This will initiate a call. Also, you can initiate a FaceTime call from within the Contacts app. Simply go into the contact entry you're interested in and flick right until you reach the "faceTime call" button. Double-tap to initiate the call.

There are options you can use during a FaceTime call. Video calls can make use of the front or rear-facing cameras built into your iOS device. You'll find buttons to choose which camera to use on the call screen which appears. You can also end a call in progress, sswitch to an incoming or waiting call, or mute your microphone. Double-tapping with two fingers will accept or end a call. You don't have to be in the FaceTime app to receive a FaceTime call. A two-fingered double-tap will accpt the call from anywhere. Also, a menu pops up giving you options which you can flick over should you want to decline the call for example.

Near the top of the screen, you'll find an edit button letting you delete FaceTime contacts. You'll find a search field letting you look for contacts by name, email or number.

Also, look in the Settings app where you'll find specific settings for FaceTime. These let you turn the feature on or off, choose which information people can use to contact you through FaceTime, and more. To specify whether FaceTime can use cellular data look in the "cellular" setting. Remember that FaceTime must use either WiFi or cellular data. Also, video calls use more data than strictly audio ones.

I have found FaceTime to be especially useful in a few ways of particular interest to blind people. I've used it to show distant relatives what my apartment was like using the ability to switch to the rear-facing camera on the back of my iPHONE. This has also been a useful way to have a sighted person help read things my OCR apps can't understand. Also, they can help me look for lost items. You could also theoretically use FaceTime to have someone sighted help you navigate somewhere or at least see where you were in order to find you more easily.

A Closer Look at Do Not Disturb:

As we learn how to communicate with people, it is important to make certain that we remain in control of when we communicate. The "do not disturb" mode is extremely useful when sleeping, attending meetings, visiting with friends or at other times when you don't want to be interrupted by your device. Airplane mode is easy to activate but completely cuts all transmition to and from your device. Most of the time, this isn't what you want. We often don't want to be distracted but still want to be able to make calls, check email, shop online, or surf the web. Do Not Disturb mode makes certain that no external calls or messages nor any alerts generated by apps on our devices will interrupt us. Unlike airplane mode, your device remains connected. You can still use Siri, receive calls and other information. This means that you don't miss out on notifications. They wait for you when you're ready to deal with them.

How to turn on Do Not Disturb mode?

You can simply tell Siri to do it. You can also go to the control centre by touching the status bar at the top of the touchscreen and swiping upward with three fingers. Flick right until you find the "do not disturb" button and double-tap it to turn the mode on or off.

 Adjusting how Do Not Disturb works:

Go into the Settings app and flick right until you come to a "do not disturb" button. It's right before the "general" button completely separate from Privacy settings. In the Do Not Disturb settings, you'll find options letting you do several things. You can schedule a time of day when your device will audomatically go into Do Not Disturb mode. This is useful for sleeping. I schedule my iPHONE to enter this mode at 11 PM and come out of the mode at 6 AM. You can also control who is still able to reach you even in Do Not Disturb mode. I allow contacts in my favorites such as my landlord, family members, etc, to reach me. There's also a setting to allow repeated calls through. If people call more than once within a few minutes, they'll be allowed through. You can turn this off if you don't want that to happen. Another option lets you choose whether your device will be silent always or just when it's locked.

The Messages App:

This is where any text, video or audio messages are sent, received and managed. You can send messages to groups or individuals. These are organised as conversations. Messages are sent through Apple's service if they're to other Apple devices. These can be Mac computers or other iOS devices. You need to be connected to the Internet to use the Messages app. These go through WIFI or cellular Internet connection and don't count against your texting plan. Otherwise, if they're to non-Apple phones, they are regular text messages and will use your texting plan. You can attach media from other apps, record audio or video messages, and decorate your text messages in all sorts of ways.

True to form, Apple keeps things as free of complexity as possible. There are no tabs in this app. At the top, you'll find edit, compose and search buttons. Between the edit and compose buttons is the app title which is a heading. You can always turn your rotor to headings and get right back to the top easily. Flicking right past the compose button, you come to a search field. This lets you look for contacts and conversations. Useful as you have more of these. Past the search field, you start with the main area filled with the names of groups or people and previews of the most current messages of each conversation. It is organised with the most recent conversation first. This keeps expanding as you communicate more. Double-tap on a conversation to enter it.

How to send a message:

There are a few ways to send messages. The easiest is to simply use Siri. Say something like "Tell Norman I'll be late for lunch." Siri will compose the message, ask if it understood you correctly, and then offer you a chance to cancel or change the message. Otherwise, you can just say "yes" and it'll send the message. You can also ask Siri to read messages to you. This would be especially useful for beginners still getting used to VoiceOver.

Double-tapping on the compose button opens a screen letting you make full use of the app's capabilities. You can add one or more names from your contacts. Typing a partial name will cause likely candidates from your contacs to be listed. You can flick right to get to these and double-tap the one you want to add. There are plenty of possibilities when it comes to creating your messages. You can type and edit your message in the edit field after double-tapping on it. Flicking over the field when it's ready to receive input, you should hear VoiceOver say "is editing". You can type your message or find the dictate button to the left of the space buttton on the virtual keyboard. Double-tap and speak your message finishing by double-tapping again to stop. Messages can have more than one line so use the return button if you want. When finished, flick right to get to the "send" button and double-tap it. Recording an audio message is also very simple. Double-tap with one finger and hold on the "record audio" button. While doing this, speak your message and release your finger when you're done. You can then play what you've recorded to make certain it's correct before sending the message via the "send" button.

Receiving messages and viewing conversations:

When messages arrive, VoiceOver will read them to you presuming you haven't changed any settings in notifications to stop this from happening or have do not disturb mode turned on. This makes it possible to carry out conversations without ever typing or swiping. All fine and good for curent simple stuff. When you want to look back through a conversation, double-tap on it and go into that conversation's screen. You can then flick right through the messages from oldest to most recent. At the end of the messages, you'll find tools to compose your next reply in that conversation. This will always be at the bottom right. You can also see if messages have been delivered and whether any additional content has been added such as stickers, files, etc. Near the top left by the contact name, you'll find a "more info" button. This shows you anything you've entered about the contact and gives you a series of optionssuch as making a FaceTime call, sending an email, etc.

Participating in Group conversations:

Once you've added more than one contact to a message you've composed, you will start a group conversation when you send that message. You can also receive a message which involves you in a group conversation when you reply to it. You can name groups once they're created. To do this, go into the group conversation and use the "more info" button. Flick right from the top left and you'll find a "name" field. This is where you can enter a group name. The "more info" screen also has other options letting you add new group members or leave a group conversation you no longer wish to participate in.

Concerning Emojis:

VoiceOver will describe any emojis other people use in their messages to you. If you want to use them yourself, while you're in an edit field, find the space bar at the bottom of the keyboard and flick left past the dictate button. You'll find a "next keyboard" button. One such keyboard is full of these emoji immages. Once you've switched to that keyboard, you can find whatever emoji you want and double-tap it. Use the "next keyboard" button to cycle through any keyboards you've added and get back to your normal preferred keyboard. Descriptions for emojis are generally well thought out and brief so this is perhaps the easiest way to clarify your meaning through imagery for sighted people. It also doesn't cost anything.

Settings Associated with the Messages app:

Go into the Setttings app and double-tap on messages. These let you control a lot of aspects about how the Messages app behaves. For instance, you can choose whether subject fields are shown. You can also turn on a setting which sends images in low quality in order to save data. You'll also find a "blocked" button which lets you manage blocked contacts you don't want to hear from. There's another setting letting you choose not to be notified when people not on your contacts list send you messsages They are kept in a separate list for you to review at your convenience. There are many more settings. Also, remember that settings in other areas like privacy can influence how the Messages app functions. It's one of those central apps which ties into a lot in iOS.

More To the Messages App:

Apple has built considerably more capabilities into their Messages app. The Digital Touch aspects allows people to add drawings, backgrounds and things to their messages. That was what I used to accidentally send my good friend an angry fireball. I haven't had any success using this effectively with VoiceOver. The sketching and drawing aspects seem to be the real core of digital touch. If you receive messages with drawing or digital touch elements, you'll be told the elements are there but not what they are.

Using Background Effects:

There are a set of effects you can attach to your messages. They can either be contained in boubles or else occupy the whole screen along with your messages. To use these, write your message first. Next, double-tap and hold on the send button or press firmly on it if you have 3d touch enabled. This adds a panel to your message screen containing choices. There are a more limited number of choices for bouble effects. These include slam, gentle, loud, and invisible ink. It may be possible to add more choices here. Screen effects include lasers, balloons, confetti, and many more. It will default to one effect but if you flick right past this, you'll come to a page slider which changes the effect to be sent. After choosing the desired effect, find the send button and double-tap it. If you get a message with an effect, you may hear appropriate sounds as the message is read. The effects have descriptions which VoiceOver will read out in addition to your message.

Adding Stickers:

One of the easier elements to make use of for blind people are stickers. Think of these like stamps. Using them is just as simple as sticking a stamp onto paper. Next to the "digital touch" button, you'll find a "messaging apps" button. Double-tap on this and more options will appear on the touchscreen. If you're already in a message, you need to flick left to find a "show more" button and double-tap that. Then, you can access the "messaging apps" button. This gives you access to a whole lot. Once you enter this area, a slider moves you between pages of options. You start on a "recents" page but if you've never used messaging appps and stickers before, nothing will be on it. Go to the next page and you can look through options. Near the bottom of the screen, there are buttons for browsing apps and stickers. You default in the stickers section which will contain any stickers you've acquired. Some apps come with stickers. For instance, the Weather Gods app is popular among blind people and it has a number of well-described weather stickers. There are also stickers you can purchase depicting favourite movie characters, locations, and much more. Flick right through the stickers you have and double-tap the one you want to add. It's possible to add more than one sticker but I don't think you can position them manually.

Stickers are designed for decoration whereas emojis are images carefully chosen and constructed to make the emotional context of messages clear. Think of stickers like stamps and emojis like psychological punctuation marks. There are a far more limited number of emoji symbols. They are all included in the Emoji virtual keyboard included as part of ioS. Emojis are free and available for use in any app capable of accepting typing. You won't find a Luke Skywalker emoji since Star Wars images are trademarked and don't clearly convey emotional meaning to people unfamiliar with that fictional universe. One emoji is a slice of pizza. While this is a food of western civilization, you can easily tell that it's food and conclude that the message sender may be expressing he or she is hungry. You can realise this even if you've never encountered pizza before. Emojis can certainly be use decoratively and often are but that isn't their primary purpose like it is with stickers.

The messages app store and Integrated Apps:

These apps plus others you already have are capable of enhancing your messages or making use of the Messages app to let you do things. Once you acquire an app with this kind of capability, it will be put in your app drawer. This is also where you'll find your stickers. You can manage the contents of this app drawer. Find the "manage" button and you can hide what you don't find useful removing it from the drawer. You can also re-order contents of the drawer. The first time you visit the messages app store, you can choose to automatically add apps which integrate with Messages into the drawer. I recommend doing this. Presuming the app in question is accessible, the part which integrates with the Messages app should also be.

One good example is the Music app which comes with iOS. After finding it in my app drawer, I was able to send a message to my wife Sara and add a clip of the song I was listening to. She could hear that music as she read the message. I only had a short poke around but it looks like I could have also sent clips of recently heard songs and not just the one I happened to be hearing as I wrote the message. The Dropbox app lets you send links to files you have uploaded to that service sharing them via messages. There are lots of other apps. Many of them are free. I urge people to experiment with people who know you as you try these apps out. Before spending any money, look on

The forums and app recommendations will be helpful in avoiding spending money on more visual apps or on stickers which haven't been labelled accessibly. Exploration of screens is key. Take time to flick and feel around to get a sense of what's possible with messages apps in the drawer. VoiceOver doesn't read out all your choices but encourages you to explore and find out where they are on the touchscreen.

The Mail App:

Apple has created a good simple app for dealing with email which is completely accessible. It can organise your mail by thread which can really help if you get a lot of email. You can also make use of different mail boxes to make certain you get to all your important mail. As with all of Apple's included apps, it covers the basics well and steers clear of too much complexity. It pays to have the rotor gestures mastered as they are helpful in reading and editing messages.

How to Set Up The Mail App:

Go into the Settings app and flick right to get to the mail settings. Double-tap on that and you'll be where all the setup and preference options are. You can then enter the needed information if it isn't there already. Presuming you've created an Apple ID, you'll have already given it an email account or have had one created for you by Apple. You may need information such as your smtp server, password, etc if you want to use an email account from another email service like Gmail.

There are settings for deciding how messages are organized. You can have them grouped into threads or simply placed in your mailboxes in chronological order. You can also choose how many lines are shown as a preview of messages. You can decide whether you want to be warned before deleting messages. There are options in the account area to decide how frequently new mail is checked for and pushed to your iOS device. There are also composition settings which include the ability to create an email signature which is automatically included below every message you send.

Layout of the Mail App:

This is another case where Apple didn't separate everything into tabs. Everything is on one main screen with various options like composing email taking you to a separate screen focussed on a given task. At the top, you'll find the mailbox selection. You default to the inbox but double-tapping the mailbox back button takes you out of that and into the mailbox list. Presuming you're in the right box, flick right and you'll find an edit button. This lets you do things like select a bunch of messages and move them to another box, delete them, etc. There's also an edit button near the top of the list of mail boxes. This lets you re-order, add and remove boxes as your needs change.

Right of the edit button is the search field. This lets you search for specific messages. Next comes the main area where messages are listed. You can flick through messages or threads if you choose to deal with messages thread by thread. Double-tap to go into a message fully. There's no limit to the size of your message list.

How to Browse messages within a thread:

Turn your rotor to the messages setting and you'll be able to quickly navigate through messages by flicking up or down. This lets you get a handle on discussions easier letting you quickly skip over to the next or prior message within a thread.

Composing emails:

The bottom right corner always contains the compose button. Double-tap this to get to the message composition screen. There are various fields. Getting around the screen is pretty simple. Double-tap to go into a field. You default in the "to" field where you can enter a full or partial name or email address. Flick right after typing some of a contact's name or email and you'll be presented with any options which might be who you're trying to contact. Double-tap on the ones you want to add to the message and their names will be added. Flick to the right past any such options to get to other fields like CC, BCC, subject, and finally, the message body. Remember that rather than flicking, you can feel around the screen to find out where fields are and double-tap on them to enter them. When done composing, feel around the top left of the screen and you'll likely find yourself on the "back" button. Flick right and you'll come to the "new message heading. To the right of that is the "send" button. Double-tap that to send your message.

Filtering Messages:

Touch the bottom right corner to find the "compose" button. Flick once to the left of this and you'll come to the "filters" button. This lets you filter messages so that only messages you're particularly wanting to focus on are shown. For instance, I have my filter set to unread messages so that I'm not bothered by ones I've already read. There are many more possible filters so take the time to look around the options after double-tapping the filters button.

To get back out of areas, simply check the top left corner of the screen for a "back" button. You'll never be trapped anywhere. There should always be a back button. Also, one of the drawbacks of the Mail app is that there doesn't seem to be any way to simply delete all mail in your inbox. You have to actively delete or archive messages individually. This is by far my biggest gripe with the app. Once you're done with a message and have archived or deleted it, you are automatically taken into the next messages. For more of an overview to pick what to tackle next, double-tap the back button to return to the mailbox you're working with.

One other gripe is that it doesn't look like you can compose a message and then deside to attach something later. Instead, you have to go to the file you want to attach, use the "share" option to and choose "mail". You'll then be put in the composition field and the file you want to share will be attached.

App Store Expedition:

If you want to expand your communications reach beyond what comes included on your iOS device, the app store has you well covered. For contacting people with devices other than iOS ones, there are always options like Skype,. That's a very popular communication method now owned by Microsoft. They have a very accessible app for iOS users. For private group conversations, there are apps like Zoom which again have software available for Android, Windows, and other platforms. Beyond these, for more public widespread communication, there are a whole range of social media options with often many different app choices to use them. We'll discuss social media in depth later in this guide.

Personally, I mainly use the Gmail app created by Google. I find this works better for me than the Mail app which comes with iOS. There are many other email app choices in the app store. These will offer different options and ways to help you manage your inbox without going nuts. For instance, Google created the Inbox app which automatically organizes your messages into related bundles. Your email provider may have created a special app for its customers to use. Also, other developers have taken their own crack at doing email differently. I haven't seen much discussion of different email apps regarding how accessible they are. People seem happy with things in general. As always, people interested in finding something different should look at:

Look in the app directory. It's well categorized. You can also search by keyword on the Applevis site which will also look into discussion forums where people talk about their experiences with different apps.


I hope this helps get people started using their iOS devices to communicate with others. It's one of the primary ways these portable and powerful flat objects have changed many lives for the better including my own. Whether I'm stuck in an elevator, in a car, or walking around the man-made lake near my building, I can be in touch with whoever I might need to. Should I drop something onto a patch of carpet where I couldn't hear it land, I could use FaceTime to contact a sighted friend or family member to literally look around for the object without leaving his or her home. There are just so many implications.

When you bring in apps made by others and offered in the app store, the possibilities grow vast indeed. There are special apps made to help deafblind people communicate more easily with others. There are apps like Google Translate which can render words spoken or written in another language understandable in mere fractions of a second. Combine these sorts of capabilities with the stupendous amount of information available from the Internet, and the implications for collaborative creativity seem endless. Once you've mastered the mechanics of VoiceOver and using a touchscreen, there are no other barriers to expressing yourself well.