I have recently had the opportunity to test the Doro 824C phone from Bell. The phone has many features that make it fully accessible for someone with vision loss. This phone is ideal for seniors and for anyone not wanting the complexity and learning curve that comes with using a standard Android or Apple device. That being said, the phone contains many of the features that one would associate with an Android or Apple phone.
The phone runs Android 5.1 (KitKat). As is standard on most mobile phones today, the phone uses a touch screen. However, the included tactile overlay makes it easy to perform all the various functions of the phone.
The accessibility on the phone is provided by software from Claria.
All of the functions on the phone are presented in a standard menu structure. Once a person learns the basic interface, they are able to use all of the apps on the phone.
The Doro 824C is sold exclusively by Bell Mobility. The phone can be ordered in any Bell store or over the phone. For more information, please contact the Bell Accessibility Services Centre.
Standard phone functions
The Doro contains all the functions you would expect from a mobile phone. This includes making and receiving calls with talking Caller ID as well as sending and receiving text messages. Typing a text message is accomplished via the keypad section of the overlay. You need to press a number key up to three times to enter a particular letter. For example, to enter the letter C, you would press the number two, three times. This method of text entry was very common on phones prior to touch screens.
Additionally, the phone includes a fully accessible web browser and email client.
The Doro 824C includes a dedicated button on the back of the phone that can be used to request assistance. Through the settings on the phone, you are able to set up a phone number to call and a text message recipient. When you press the assistance button twice, call is placed, and a text message is sent.
In addition to the standard phone functions, the Doro contains several additional applications that are of particular use to someone with vision loss. These include:
- Fully accessible GPS navigation
- DAISY book reader
- Colour identifier
- OCR (optical character recognition) app for reading printed text
- Light detector
In addition to these applications, the phone contains a podcast and Internet radio player.
Android apps from the Google Play Store
In addition to the many apps that the Claria software provides, you are able to exit out of the Claria interface and use the phone as a standard Android device. When you do this, the standard Android screen reader called Talkback will take over. You are then able to install any accessible app from the Google Play store. These apps will not have the standardized interface that is provided by the Claria software. It is generally advisable to remove the tactile overlay when using the phone with apps from the Play Store.
The Doro 824C is ideal for seniors, children, or anyone who cannot or does not wish the complexity of a standard touch screen phone. The tactile overlay and standardized menu structure makes the phone extremely easy to use.
It has come to our attention that the Claria software that provides the accessibility on this phone is no longer being developed. The company is no longer in business. Everything on the phone works as expected. However, there will not be any further updates to the Claria software.
Bell is continuing to sell the phone and has assured us that they will continue to provide support. The phone is fully covered under warranty.