[nfb-talk] Accessible Business Phone Systems

Michael Bullis bullis.michael at gmail.com
Sat Jan 18 15:27:14 UTC 2014

Hi folks:

I'm reaching out to you because I can't find an accessible business phone
system and wonder if you have been able to do so.  My organization is
growing.  We now have eighteen employees.  Our current phone system is
pretty much inaccessible.  Oh, well, if you're blind, you can answer the
phone and check messages.  All the rest of the system-call forwarding,
conferencing, looking at your recent call list, Etc., are inaccessible.


My organization wants a modern voip phone system in which one can manage
calls from the desk phone, from ones pc, and from one's smart phone.

If someone calls you at your desk, the call can also be seen on your
computer and smart phone.

Unfortunately, in every instance that I've looked at, the apps that provide
such services aren't accessible.  It turns out that cisco, fifteen years
ago, developed the underlying architecture to allow for full access to these
systems for people who are blind or deaf,  but, the companies that create
them haven't developed the apps for access.  For example, in the case of
Comcast, they have apps for desktop and iphone, which, with small
modifications such as labeling buttons, would be accessible, but, as you
might expect, it isn't a priority with Comcast to make such changes any time
soon.  Apparently fifteen years just hasn't been enough time.

Even their iphone app could be made accessible with the simple act of
changing a graphic to a button and some minor labeling.  But, alas, that's
too much to ask if one wants it in this decade.

So, since I know that you run anorganization that employs many blind folks
I'm wondering if you have had any success at a fully accessible, modern
phone system-one that allows you to call forward, see who has called,
conference call, access your phone from your desktop or laptop, or, from
your smartphone (either android or iphone)?

Interestingly, one solution would be to buy really old phones.  What do I
mean?  Buy phones that have what I call hard buttons.  These are analog
phones that have a button for hold, button for forward, button for
conferencing, Etc.  Unfortunately, such phones aren't necessarily forward
compatible with current voice over ip systems.


So, I'm writing you for two possible things.

1.        Do you have a fully accessible phone system that I've just missed
in my research?

2.       Do you have contacts with major voip providers such as Verizon,
Comcast, 8x8, AT&T, who could take on the mission of making their systems


I should mention that I am familiar with ipblue and Tenacity.  They will
provide us with piggyback programs for the pc that will make some company's
phone systems accessible in combination with jaws for that environment.  The
work-arounds start at $750 per station and go up from their.  But, still, no
ability to use these systems with your smart phone.

Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.


My desires in life are simple.  Two of them, always lingering in the back of
my mind have been, a fully usable phone system and pay stubs that I can
read.  The pay stubs is easy.  The phone system doesn't seem to be.

I'm hoping you can help me realize this one.

Thanks in advance for forwarding this to anyone who may have answers.

Mike Bullis

Executive Director,

The IMAGE Center of Maryland

Office: 443-275-9394




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