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Lorraine's not blind to phone trouble

PUBLISHED: 09:35 15 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 March 2010

SUFFOLK mobile phone user Lorraine Versey has spoken out to raise awareness of her campaign to make handsets more accessible to blind people and the visually impaired.

SUFFOLK mobile phone user Lorraine Versey has spoken out to raise awareness of her campaign to make handsets more accessible to blind people and the visually impaired.

Lorraine – who has been blind since birth – had a stand at Ipswich Library to draw attention to the problems and show what is available for blind and visually impaired users.

The 45-year-old launched the campaign in summer 2001 after finding it hard to get a mobile phone to suit her needs.

"My own experience as a blind person has been that mobile phones are not easy for me to use," she said.

"Just one example is the handset. The buttons on the keypads are too small and too close together and because they are all the same size they are difficult to distinguish.

"I had to adapt my phone by putting Braille on the buttons myself. If this wasn't on the buttons I wouldn't know where the numbers are.

"I am frustrated that no one is providing even this straight forward adaption." She added handset design is not the only problem.

There are also problems with text messages, changing phone settings and internet access on mobile phones because these are not available in an audible format.

"I think everything in the world should be ideal for people who can and can't see," she said.

Lorraine successfully applied to the Millennium Commission for a Millennium Award, which means that she is given four hours a week help in her campaign.

She has been writing letters to raise awareness and has received the backing of MP Tim Yeo and the Royal National Institute for the Blind. There is also a 195 system on some phones, which means that an operator dials the telephone number and gets round having to use the keypad.

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