But first, a little history...
Before Tecla existed, as a person with limited upper-body mobility, your options for accessing a smartphone were slim. The only solution available was to attach a switch to an adapted Bluetooth headset. With this setup, you could pick up a call or dial pre-programmed numbers.
In 2007 when the iPhone came out, many people with limited mobility attempted to use it, but the only ways to access the screen were by using a mouth-stick with a stylus or by using a typing splint. This wasn’t ideal and, frankly, difficult to manage.
Enter Tecla. Tecla first launched for Android, along with a corresponding app. For the first time, Tecla allowed people to use any switch or their wheelchair driving controls to fully access an Android smartphone or tablet. In addition to making phone calls, Tecla users could now text, email and read eBooks on-the-go for the first time.
Let the smartphone revolution commence
As smartphones became more and more mainstream, accessibility began to improve. With the iPhone 3GS, Apple introduced VoiceOver, the screen navigation tool for users with visual impairments. The first Tecla Shield was able to control an iPhone or an iPad using VoiceOver.
Then with iOS 7, things changed even more when Apple introduced Switch Control. As a built-in feature, Switch Control allowed users to control any iPhone or iPad by using assistive devices like tecla-e. With Tecla, you can use any kind of ability switch – from simple buttons, to wheelchair driving controls, to switches activated by blinking, blowing or head movements.
At the same time, we continued to work on the tecla-e companion app. Now, users had the ability to set up speed dials, access Amazon Alexa's commands, trigger smart home devices, and more.
Here we are today. So what’s our top choice for the best phone for quadriplegics? The iPhone. Specifically, the iPhone X. Here’s why.
1. Switch Control
This built-in switch-access feature of iOS is more consistent than Android’s built-in counterpart and just keeps getting better. iOS also tends to follow best practices for accessibility, making more apps accessible out-of-the-box. If an app is not accessible, there is point mode, where you can select any point on the screen and tap or emulate gestures like pinching, swiping, etc.
2. Audio Source Settings
One feature that makes the iPhone ideal is that you can set up your audio source. If you’re using a Bluetooth headset, for example, and you want to have private conversations, you can set the headset as your default source when using your iPhone. That way, if you receive a call, it’ll go directly to your headset instead of your speakerphone. Or conversely, when you’re making a call, it’ll also go through your Bluetooth headset. So the iPhone and a headset paired with Tecla gets you a pretty private and easy-to-use system.
3. Easy Accessibility
Another great feature of the iPhone? It has better overall accessibility out-of-the-box. The iPhone X's state-of-the-art face recognition software allows users with physical impairments to unlock their phone with just their face! Android provides a simpler phone experience that is good for making calls and sending texts, but, if you want a device that you can use to text, browse social media, read books, etc., the iPhone is a better option.
4. Screen Size
Since many of our users do not physically hold their phone, but instead mount it, having a bigger screen makes the most sense. So the iPhone X or the Samsung Galaxy Note is what we’d recommend. In an ideal world, the following setup would serve all your needs: a Samsung Galaxy Note or an iPhone X, a mount for your phone, a Bluetooth headset for privacy, and a tecla-e along with the switch that works for you (or your wheelchair driving controls).
5. Siri and Switches
The more switches you have access to, the faster access to your phone you’ll have. When you have one switch, you’re dependent on timing. With multiple switches, you can assign them to different functions. So for quadriplegics, access to speech recognition could be useful. For example: assigning one switch to access Siri is a good feature. So when you need to text, call, hang up a call, open apps or navigate inside an app, you can do so with Tecla and Siri – even in a noisy environment.
With Siri alone, you can’t hang up a phone call and that’s a big limitation. So if you call a company, for example, and you get stuck in their menu and you can’t physically press 0 to talk to an operator, then you’re out of luck. With Tecla, you can activate Siri with a switch and voila – you can hang up the call.
To sum, Tecla is a necessary component for your iPhone, in addition to Switch Control, to be able to use apps in your phone, to navigate different features of Facebook or even play movies – basically, functions that aren’t built into Siri. Also if you’re in a noisy environment and Siri has trouble recognizing your voice, with Tecla, you can still access your phone’s features and be able to hang up calls by using a switch. This is why it’s important to have an alternate method like Tecla for your phone and not just solely rely on Siri.
Do you use any particular smartphone with your Tecla that you’re happy with? Let us know!