Bonnie Cha

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Sprint’s Latest LG Optimus F3 Helps Those With Impaired Vision or Hearing

At the M-Enabling Summit today in Arlington, Va., Sprint CEO Dan Hesse introduced a new smartphone that will help those with vision impairments and other disabilities more easily interact with their handsets.


Available starting June 14, the LG Optimus F3 is the first phone to come preloaded with TalkBack, Google’s accessibility app for the blind and visually impaired. TalkBack uses text-to-speech technology, and adds spoken, audible and vibration feedback to help users navigate and operate their phones.

This aid is available as soon as you turn on the Optimus F3, when TalkBack kicks in with voice guidance to help with activation and setup. This is different from other smartphones, where you have to first download the app from the Google Play store and then activate it.

In addition to TalkBack, Sprint is offering its Accessible Education ID pack for download, which provides access to Web-based educational resources for students who have difficulty reading print due to visual, physical or learning disabilities.

During his remarks at the M-Enabling Summit, which promotes using the latest mobile technology to assist senior citizens and persons with disabilities, Hesse said offering products to people with disabilities makes good business sense, and is also part of the company’s corporate responsibility.

“People with disabilities rely on mobile technology just as much as their able-bodied peers — perhaps even more so,” he said. “In spite of advances like FaceTime, barriers still prevent people with disabilities from taking full advantage of the latest technology.”

This includes people who are deaf or have hearing loss, Hesse said, so the Optimus F3 also offers unique features for the hearing impaired. The home button lights up in different colors to alert the user to various things. For example, the button will glow green for an incoming phone call, or red for new text messages. Users can also customize the button with other colors or patterns for notifications like upcoming appointments and alarms.

The Optimus F3 itself runs in the midrange category, with a four-inch touchscreen, a five-megapixel rear camera, and Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2.

Sprint said it will be the carrier’s most affordable 4G LTE smartphone to date, at a price of $30 with a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate.

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