Does an iPad offer any benefits over an iPhone for a totally blind user?

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This is an honest, serious question. I am totally blind and I have been using an iPhone 5S for nearly eight months. I just received an iPad Air 2 which, because of its larger screen, I find it harder to use. The question is whether there are things you can do with an iPad which you cannot do with an iPhone, especially by blind users? To me, a larger screen is a hindrance, not an asset.



Submitted by Siobhan on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hi. I have to be honest, I've never heard of someone disliking a larger screen. Anyway, it all depends on how you use it, not so much what can one do, the phone doesn't can't won't take your pick. You can skype on the ipad, whereas it isn't really so much needed on an iPhone given face time and also the phone app itself. And I forgot, it's also got face time too. This should be more about what you want on it, since an iPad air is a bit to large to carry around with you. So maybe you want audible books read on it, maybe you want your news articles, maybe you like to play games. The key difference on an iPad is the split screen, and it does take some getting used to, also a bit of practice to learn visually where things are on the screen. This is how I learn, it's at the top left, I find what someone has told me is in that location. exploring by touch is crucial, because swiping though I use it takes sometimes quite a bit longer to find what you're looking for. For instance I have music on my phone, and well my pad has gone to my brother, I said sure you can play soem games, I haven't seen it since. Lol. If you would like to talk off of here please contact me and maybe I can help you not see the iPad's larger screen as a hinderance? Of course this is your oppinion and I respect it, I just want to show you another way of looking at things.

Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I have to agree with your feelings regarding the larger screen being nothing but a hindrance. Personally, I don't know of any benefits of utilizing an iPad as a totally blind user, except, of course, for personal preference, however. I have a friend that owns both an iPad and an iPhone. She used to divide her life between the two devices. In a recent conversation she told me that she is converting all of her activities between the two devices to just using her iPhone. It should be noted that she has a tiny bit of workable vision but is totally dependent on a screen reder for computer access. She started with the iPad but then finally purchased the iPhone. Knowing this person, I thought she might continue dividing her things between the two devices, but even she is converting to just the iPhone.

I realize that this may not have actually addressed the question but I thought I'd at least give you another totally blind person's prospective. Excluding some iPad functionality that I may not be aware of, I think it boils down to personal preference. All I see is that you have to travel over more real estate, on an iPad, in order to accomplish the same tasks done on a iPhone. When you consider carpal tunnel as a possible issue, this is all the more reason to limit the hand movements as much as possible, along with simply being faster to execute an action on the iPhone.


Submitted by Ted Drake on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I don't think there's a benefit when the app is merely an enlarged iPhone display. However, many apps will use the larger iPad screen to provide a better user experience. For instance, a navigation element may be hidden on an phone but is always available on a tablet. Further, there are many applications that are developed with more features for tablets and simplified for the phone.

So the answer may be that you use the iPhone for the majority of tasks, but switch to the iPad when using specific applications. For what its worth, I'm sighted and use my iPhone 90% of the time. I use my iPad mostly for Evernote, recipe apps, and a few others that have very specific improvements with the larger interface.

Submitted by splyt on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The split screen work this way:
In the left part of the screen there are say nenus and in the right part of the screen are the options each menu selected will show.
So for example in settings each of the main menus are shown in the left part of the screen and the options for them in the right part of the screen in an Ipad. Should you want to select another menu, just do it on the left part of the screen and the right part will be filled with the related options... In the other hand, in Iphone you have a subview inside a view so you have to activate the back button to go back to the menu if you want to choose another one.
I personally think that the smaller the screen is the better and faster it is to acumplish tasks. So ... I would not get an ipad.


Submitted by ray h on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

As a totally blind user who has both an iPhone and an iPad, my general view is that the iPhone is a better and easier device to use. In my line of work, I have a voluminous amount of emails to read and answer, a good bit of word processing and a variety of other apps that I use. Personally, I carry several BARD books and lots of music on my iPhone. I have worked heavily with all these features on both devices and have gotten to the point of never using my iPad. The smaller screen just makes it much easier to navigate.
When I need more power, I switch to either my work PC or my personal MacBook Air.
Just another perspective.

Submitted by SK Shin on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wow, I am so impressed by an grateful for all your responses. Maybe, I will just give away my iPad to one of my family members. Thank you all again...

Submitted by Siobhan on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hi. Have you given the iPad a good shot, say a week or two? Or are you simply saying because of the bigger screen, you are choosing to stay with your phone? I have to say that whoever gets that iPad is lucky, that wasn't a very cheap thing. If you have given the tablet a shot, I understand agree if it's your feeling you don't care for it, let someone else use it. However, if you are simply basing your actions on either holding the device for a minute, or just having it given to you thinking you'd enjoy it, I ask you to reconsider. Another thing, have you thought of speed dots screen protector? You can have it in either portrait or landscape they have dits for every little button, and letter on the virtual keyboard which I can't even type two handed on it. Again, just some other thoughts, I do not mean at all to suggest you are giving up, please I hope this didn't offend you. Btw i think they aren't very expensive, I think the site is I'm just trying you to get every angle before deciding to do what you have said in your last comment.

I am totally blind and have used iPads or iPad mini's for almost two years now. I currently have an iPad mini. I have used my iPads with and without a bluetooth keyboard. I have found that I am more productive with an iPad. First of all, I can type more accurately and quicker with an iPad. This was even true without a bluetooth keyboard. Also, some websites worked better for me on an iPad. I do most of my activities on my iPad. It's like my laptop. However, I use my iPhone when I am out and about. This allows me to take full advantage of the better battery of the iPad and at the same time, benefit from the portability of the iPhone. The bigger screen of the iPad does take some getting used to, but after about a week or two, it became almost second nature to me. Just my thoughts.

Hi, thanks for telling me about SpeedDots. Funny, I talked about how something like this would be helpful when I first began using the iPhone. In fact, I already went ahead and ordered one for my iPhone. As for the iPad, yes, I have been using it for a couple of days only. I will give my old college try before handing it to someone else. I may even get the SpeedDots protector for it. Again, thanks for your advice.

Submitted by Siobhan on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hi. I'm glad you took it as constructive, as that's what it was meant to be. To be brutally honest, i was afraid of the you tried it for a day and hated it, therefore, out the window it went. No, you wouldn't toss it out for real, but I just don't like seeing people igve up on something before they really say it can't be done. My first experience of an iphone was in a store, loud as anything, and i went away asking myself, I want that? Seriously thanks for taking my criticism as how it was meant. :) Please, i urge you to skype or text or something so i can better help you really try and enjoy the ipad. And if speed dots worked once, they might just help again.

Submitted by Piotr Machacz on Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I'm probably one of the very few people here who doesn't have an iPhone. My only other iDevice is an iPod touch. I eventually decided that I wanted to look into getting a new tablet, but hadn't initially considered getting an iPad and was more looking into Windows 8 convertables, that is, before the iOS 8 announcements hit and I ended up splitting the cost of an iPad Air with my sister a few months ago. Like the subject says I found many more uses for it than I expected. The first being note taking with just the touch screen. On the small, 4 inch screen of the iPod or even the 5 inch screen on my Galaxy S4 with mBraille I found braille typing not very fast or comfortable as I have rather large fingers and they kept getting mixed up, but on the iPad I'm very impressed at just how fast I can type. I actually found the bigger screen less unwieldy than I expected and it does come in quite useful in many apps, IE ones that have sliding navigation drawers. On the iPad, those kind of drawers can stay on the screen all the time and not obscure the rest of the content so it takes fewer taps to, say, change from your main timeline to your mentions in a twitter client. I also like to listen to things before I fall asleep, and the iPad speakers are much louder and have a fuller sound - Yes, you can just wear headphones but I never found that very comfortable. I still use the iPod as well for reading books and listening to music, but when I'm at home and want to work with other apps the iPad works very well.

Submitted by Chris on Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I've always thought the iPad offered no benefit for a totally blind person, but I guess the only thing I can come up with is typing.
On the iPad or any tablet, you have more room to place your fingers to type on the virtual keyboard. I personally don't like the idea of the full-sized iPad though. I would prefer the iPad mini since it's about the size of my Nexus 7. However, judging by what we've gotten in the recent Apple keynote, I'm thinking the iPad Mini will be going bye bye.
This really makes me sad, because I am thinking about ditching my iPhone once support is killed and switching to Android. Yes, I'm converting to the dark side, but Android accessibility really isn't as bad as some people think.
However, that is for another topic.
So, I don't know. I feel like the iPad Mini could be useful for me as a way to keep one foot in the iOS world without having to pay for a data plan that I hardly use.
However, if the iPad Mini and the iPod Touch are really doomed to disappear for good, then my 5s could be my last iOS device.

Submitted by SK Shin on Thursday, October 30, 2014

Again, thank you all for your comments and encouragements. I am definitely going to try using the iPad. My children will just have to make do with their old iPad 2.

Could we move on to typing on the devices? Thus far, I have been cheating by using my Braille Sense to type on the iPhone. So, if I am going to be using the iPad like a laptop, I would prefer to type on it. As I understand it, there are three methods: using a Bluetooth keyboard, using the virtual QWERTY keyboard on the device, and using the virtual braille keyboard on the device. What do you prefer? If either the Bluetooth keyboard and/or the virtual braille keyboard, I would appreciate specific recommendations. Also, are there not Bluetooth keyboards that slide on to the iPad? It would be cool if I can just carry one big thing.

Thank you in advance for your helpful posts.

Submitted by Siobhan on Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hi. I bought the apple keyboard, it's around fifty dollars, yes that might be expensive, but you are looking at a full size keyboard. You can smaller, but I think space between keys is not so good. There are cheaper ones, so I can't validate them. If you get an apple keyboard it's metal. Yes you'd need to carry around another thing but it's incredibly thin. It's made of metal so if you drop which I have, you only might hurt the corner, no dropping it isn't the best idea. :) Apple recently has one with a side number pad if you are used ot typing on it like that. They make cases with keyboards built in, the one I tested didn't feel right the keys were to rubbery and soft for my taste. There's also dictation, although that's not fool proof lol.

Does Apple keyboard offer keyboard shortcuts for some of the tasks, relieving you from touching the touch screen? Are keyboard shortcuts, if any, keyboard-specific (i.e., Apple Keyboard offers more of them than other brands)? Also, any recommendation for the keyboards that slide into or on the iPad? I understand that the feel matters but I am asking for recommendations on the functionality and reliability? Thank you...

Submitted by Diane on Thursday, October 30, 2014

I have used an iPhone 4s for 2 years and have no trouble typing on the screen. I have some useable vision, but, rely on screen readers. I purchased an iPad about 3 months ago. I found it to be very sensative and kept opening things I hadn't meant to. The larger screen did seem more awkward. I just put off doing mutch with it. I recently purchased a Logitech bluetooth keyboard. I also found Applevis podcast 527 to help learn the VO commands. I am now making more progress with the iPad with the keyboard and expect to become more comfortable using the screen.

Submitted by Siobhan on Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hi. The control and option keys, which are on the very left hand side, the second key in is control, the one next it option. Think of them is windows key and there's one more, to the right is command, which is on either side of the space bar, these releate the alt key. Yes you can do almost everything with the keyboard barely having to touch the screen. As for as Apple having more shortcuts i don't think so though other keyboards it might be harder to say which key is the dedicated key where apple you just have no choice but to see it's simple to figure out.This is all eventually about what you want, what you like. With the cases i mentioned you would have to touchthem, and I know that when i was looking, I worried about them opening the box because then I would have to buy it. I did, then returned it, again the feeling of the rubber wasn't my thing. I haven't looked again, that's my fault. :)

Submitted by Rocker on Thursday, October 30, 2014

OK Vissers, I am 4 days into my new iPad Air 2. Coming from a iPhone 5s. When I first took the pad out of the box I thought, man, this sucker is so big! My first muse was that, hey, I have two weeks to try before I decide to keep it or send it back to Apple. The iPad Air 2 is starting to grow on me and I'm already torn between keeping it or returning it. I love the expanded IOS interface and I do think I will adapt to the split screen quickly. Moving back to my 5s shows me how screen real estate does offer improvements once one gets used to it. Another advantage for me, is the horse power that the Air 2 offers; advanced wireless Ac extreme via my Asus RTA-66U 1600 router, 2 gigs of ram, the 8x chip and amazing battery life when the screen brightnbess is set to 0 with the screen curtain on. I have been face timing, listening to audible books through the powerful stereo speakers, watching NHL live video streaming which I cannot see but have to stream video to enjoy. I have recharged the battery once since Monday and I'm still at 40%. No shite! Hand off is proving to be very useful as well.
I am hopeing that I can use a BT keyboard cover once the providers release their updates for the iPad Air 2. I am concerned that these key board covers are snake oil man so if any iPad Air users out there can give me some genuine feed back on some of the higher end models from Belkin, Clam case, Logitek etc, I would be most grateful.
Now, my other thought is to return the Air 2 for the iphone 6+ which could offer many of the bennifits as listed above without having to manage two devices. The iPad Air 2 is one slick piece of tech! Oh boy, oh boy, what to do...haha.

Submitted by Siobhan on Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hi. In my own view, there's no question you should have two devices, should finances agree with your decision. :) Seriously, as I wrote, my pad, before it was used for other stuff, was what i went home to use, bringing the phone on the go. remember the six will have apple pay whereas though there are some advantages to the iPad having it, it's easier with a phone. My hope is eventually they might give the mini access to the payment feature. I can't see holding a "huge" though it isn't ipad air up, but the mini which is little larger then a six plus, would be neat. As i can't buy anything for the next six months, I'll also see where apple pay goes from here. If you really are einjoying the device, it might be a good thing, and just use your five s until you can subsidize for the six. Just a point.

Submitted by Usman on Thursday, October 30, 2014

I have a mac, iPad third gen and a iPhone 5s. I am splitting the time across all those devices. since the iPad has a much better speaker, I will often use it to stream video, listen to music, stream live broadcasts of different sporting events, and even some gaming. I actually prefer a smaller screen to type on but that's a personal preference.
the other thing to note is the iPad has a better battery life. If you do hard core gaming or streaming of video, this will be a real substantial advantage. I am not one of those people that do just about everything on my phone as I don't want to put too much ware and tare on it.

Great points. lets, not forget that the apple watch is just round the corner and I am confident that there will be some accessible benefits. The watch will also have apple pay using nfc and from what I have red, it will work with the 5s. I will likely keep the iPad Air 2 but, will hit an apple store to grab and feel up the iPhone 6 and 6+ just to affirm my decision. It's too bad all this gear cost's a fortune man so one has to make the right choice when on a limited budjit.

Submitted by SK Shin on Friday, October 31, 2014

So, the consensus seems to be a Bluetooth keyboard. Will go that route. I have one last question, hopefully. If you want to use the iPad like a laptop, what would you say is the best word processor app? I don't suppose there is Microsoft Office app suite for the iPad?

Submitted by Siobhan on Friday, October 31, 2014

All of the ones I mentioned are Ms word, excell, and powerpoint respectively and for an iPad version you're looking at ten bucks per app. They have gone through drastic accessibility changes, I think you might be able to get them free if your pad is so recent. You should take the time if possible to go to an apple store and really ask some questions of them maybe demo pages if they have it, even on the mac. It's a computer, but you'd get the same idea of the functionality before giving them your cash.

Submitted by Usman on Friday, October 31, 2014

there is Microsoft office for the iPad but not sure about pricing or accessibility. I've used pages on my iPad and it works well. Its had issues in the past but I believe they've since been fixed.

Siobhan, I am going to the Apple store this weekend to see. With that keyboard, would you say that you don't need to touch the iPad screen much to control the machine? Or, is the keyboard mainly to type text?

Submitted by Siobhan on Friday, October 31, 2014

Hi. You very rarely need to touch the screen. You might need to I'd say two out of ten times, but I don't know your habits. Don't worry if you have to to get voice over to be nice, it can be a bit of a pain sometimes. :)

Submitted by prisy on Monday, June 10, 2019

In reply to by nightowl

Hello, I own an iPad fifth Gen and the iPhone 6. everyone I know now has the iPhone 10, but I still have the iPhone 6. I prefer the phones with the home button which the iPhone 10 does not. I bought the iPad mainly as a notetaker, but I am starting to realize that I should have gotten one with cellular connectivity being that I am using the iPad more for productivity purposes and my iPhone's hotspot doesn't suffice and it totally wares down my phone's battery. I am able to type quicker on the iPad with the virtual braille keyboard and as far as word-processing goes, I use google docs and/or notes to complete my tasks, and it works fine this way. Microsoft word is not a free program. to get it for free you have to be a student at an educational institution or you pay for office 365. The google's suite of apps is accessible for the blind because of voiceover enhancements. apple pages works very well with the iPad, phone and Mac. as a totally blind user of an iPad, a larger screen is easier for typing and sound is a lot better for streaming audio. I use my iPhone when I am out and about for quick tasks and use the dictation feature to type. However, I have the iPad as my productivity device, now that I mostly keep my macbook pro laptop at home due to the risk of back-pain from lugging my heavy laptop bag with the included accessories on long commutes for school and other events requiring the use of public transit. screen size depends on whether or not you have some usable vision to appreciate the screen's real-estate. Now they have a new and improved iPad mini, so the mini isn't going to be discontinued anytime soon. Even though the MacBooks are lighter, other accessories can add significant weight to the bag. as a totally blind person, I much prefer the iPad as a low-cost notetaker in comparison to the expensive blindness-specific devices like the braille notetakers on the market which can accomplish the same basic tasks. An iPad with braille display and bluetooth keyboard is another option depending on your choice of assistive technology.