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A secondary learner with low vision uses a mobile phone to source and access information


Phonebook exploration

Figure 1 Phonebook exploration

Loa is a 16 year old learner with low vision who is in Year 12 at her local High School and at times she has needed to rely on friends to assist her with phone communication.

Renee Jones describes how Loa has been exploring ways to access communication and information sources independently through the use of a mobile phone.  In figure 1 Loa is exploring the phonebook using a Ruby Electronic Magnifier.

Accessing information using the phonebook and a Ruby magnifier

Accessing 018 text message

Figure 2 Accessing 018 text message

Loa is exploring the Hawkes Bay phonebook with her Ruby Electronic Magnifier to become familiar with the layout and options of

  1. Hawkes Bay area coverage,
  2. names, addresses, phone numbers,
  3. emergency services,
  4. personal help services,
  5. services available in the yellow pages.

After contacting the 018 Directory Service (listed in the phonebook) for a required number, Loa is looking at the text message sent immediately by the Directory Service confirming the information after the call.

To access the text sent, Loa is using her Ruby to photograph and enlarge the information. In figure 2 Loa is accessing an 018 text message.

Interpersonal and communication skills

Using the mobile phone

Figure 3 Using the mobile phone

Loa was able to use both a telephone and a mobile phone to contact the people whose details she had committed to memory. She has well developed interpersonal skills and clear communication skills which she uses when making her calls.

Loa has the technology skills required for the next steps. Figure 3 shows Loa using the mobile phone

Possible next steps for Loa

  • Access the on-line New Zealand Postcode Directory  to find local postcodes.
  • Explore the white and yellow pages on the  website for a quick accessible option to residential, business, government  and medical directories when a computer is available.
  • Create a favourite calling list of key  numbers for quick access.
  • Extend the above from accessing local information to accessing National and International information.
  • Use a public phone with a phone card in town and at the airport.

Teaching methods and strategies

  • An initial verbal introduction and overview of the general layout of the Hawkes Bay Telephone Book followed by an in depth study of each section using a Ruby Electronic magnifier as the tool for access.
  • Having the learner create imaginary situations and real situations that may be useful for her now and in the future, and source the information by using both the phonebook and a mobile phone.
  • Using a mobile phone, complete a ‘hands-on’ follow-up activity that requires contacting the 018 Directory Service.

Learning adaptations

  • The provision of a good natural light source coming from a side window to assist access.
  • The use of a Ruby Electronic Magnifier to photograph, zoom into and enlarge information cell phone from any standard cell phone.


The student said she had no experience of using the telephone book and was unaware of most of the informational content in it.

She had been using other peers and friends to find numbers she needed and at times make the contacts for her.

Assessment was through observation of and discussion of the skills taught.

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