I very recently purchased an iPhone 4s from Verizon wireless. I had been looking forward to getting it for over a year, but I had an experience at the Verizon store that I was not expecting.
I walked into the store and found a rep. All the usual happened, I said what phone I wanted, he checked the stock in the store, we looked at my plan upgrade, bought a case, etc. While paying for the phone the rep talked to me about how he had heard from others that the iPhone was the best in terms of accessibility for visually impaired people. I said yes, and talked a little bit about how I was looking forward to using the iPhone, especially over my old phone which was an accessibility nightmare. Five or so minutes later when it came time to set up the phone, I asked if my contacts could be transferred from my old phone to the iPhone since I couldn’t get my contacts through Active Sync and into iTunes to push to iCloud. The rep took my phone and transferred over my contacts. When he said that they were all over on my iPhone, I was just about to ask if he could please enable Voice Over. Suddenly, I hear the rep saying “here you go, sir” and then Voice Over Samantha saying “Voice Over On”. I was shocked. Sure, I had heard that the reps had a little training on those aspects, but for the store staff to go out of there way to turn on Voice Over really touched me and surprised me. Once Voice Over was on, the rep asked me if I needed any of the other accessibility options on, and if I needed him to make sure any settings were changed. I said no, and said thanks! My iPhone was placed in my hand, with accessibility running, the case put on, and the screen protector applied. Verizon also had a list of phones that they had and how much accessibility each one had for blindness, hearing, etc, so if you didn’t know, you could easily look up which phone was best for you.
There is a huge difference between reading about the training Verizon staff receive and having a fully accessible device, with the screen reader running, pressed into my hand while others were purchasing the same device and receiving help with their set up. It was a very neat experience to know that the Mainstream does know about us, and that they will go out of their way to make sure we can use the phone before they let us leave the store. I would like to say a huge public thank you to the Verizon staff for this. This is the first time I’ve seen a Mainstream person know about the screen reader and enable it easily in a store.
I am now a happy iPhone 4s user. However, it was a huge stress off my shoulders to know that accessibility was working from step one and not have to explain how to turn it on, why it needed turned on, etc. I am very pleased with the service I got from Verizon this weekend, and am glad I visited that particular store. Needless to say, I will use that store as my preferred store, because I know those staff members know how to help me as a blind individual. Thank you, Verizon!