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Phones Throughout the Years

The impact of phones throughout the years on the lives op people with a visual impairment
4 phones are displayed from left to right, starting with a handsfree phone, followed by three really old phones where you had to turn a wheel. All placed on what seems to be street bricks.

#blog by Ylona Keurn #with Niek de Jong

Phones, it is nearly impossible to live without one. However, the difference in phones is huge and the design and functions have completely changed over the last 20 years. In this blog, Ylona Keur writes about her experiences with phones over the years.

A phone. You can think of so many things with this subject these days. It can be a very old-fashioned fixed telephone, but for many people it will have been replaced by a smartphone. Especially for younger people, the phone is an integral part of everyday life. In fact, I often picture young people with their phone in their hands. Although the phone can have many advantages, in my personal opinion, it can also be super annoying. But even I must admit: I cannot live without my iPhone anymore.

Rewind 50 years

50 years ago, the world was a different place! Back then, the word 'mobile' had not even been invented yet. When you think of how modern today's phones are and what is possible, it really strikes me how fast technology moves and how quickly new things are produced. Just ask the elderly among us. They often think it's too complicated. You still hear some of them say every day: we didn't have that modern stuff when we were young. But is it really such a hassle nowadays and are we moving too fast to keep up?

On the other hand, there are also many things that young people cannot imagine. Think about it, 50 to 75 years ago, you had one telephone booth in the village. Which even required you to bring coins in order to make a short call of less than five minutes. To make matters worse, it also cost you a few guilders. To me, it seems very frightening that you can only make contact if there happens to be a phone box in the place. And if there isn't one, you have to look for the nearest telephone. I can imagine that must have been quite a task. After all, you couldn't just google where the phone was. As you can read, it all seemed very uncertain to me, where you were very dependent on others and not able to easily and independently arrange necessary things remotely.


But, that was then. Time fortunately does not stand still. At some point, another possibility came up for some people. For people with a good job and who telephoned regularly, it became possible to buy a telephone with a rotary dial. Just think about where the saying 'dialling a phone number' comes from. I can also think of some problems with that. How do you know, for example, whether you have already stopped dialling the right number? The longer the telephone existed, the more affordable this luxury became for ordinary people. Thus, large telephones with keys and a long cord increasingly came into homes, so that you could talk to each other faster and more often. These corded telephones have lasted a very long time. But even after this development, technology continued. A device came onto the market that no longer needed a cord and was as big as your hand. The telephone was easy to move around and to take with you on the road. The first mobile phone was born.

The Mobile Phone

In the beginning, you could only use it to make phone calls and it could be moved around, which was quite special for that time. Over the years, they became more and more functional. The phones became smaller, the batteries lasted longer and the SMS function was introduced. Sending messages was received as a blessing by many people. Much easier to send a message if you wanted to say something briefly instead of a whole phone call! While for some it was a blessing, for many others it was a curse.

It took me a long time before I could text myself. After thinking about it for a long time, I saw the advantages of being able to do this myself. The difficult part was that I had to learn it letter by letter. In contrast to today's telephones, the mobile phones of a few years ago did not yet have a full keyboard. Under each digit on the keyboard were three letters. For example, for the letter b you had to press the 1 twice in quick succession. Texting in this way was always a hassle for me. I find the keyboards of today's mobile phones much easier. They work in the same way as a computer keyboard and that makes things much easier for me. I could, of course, go on and on about all the different functions that have been added. Think of all the support options such as screen readers, voice-to-text and separate keyboards. As there are whole worlds to be told about each individual topic, I will leave that for the next blog.

We are moving the right way

This was a very brief summary of the major changes in the phone industry. If I had to imagine it, I would think that there are advantages and disadvantages to all of them. I know that the functions I have explained above were already providing many new possibilities at the time. But with the arrival of the smartphone, a whole new world opened up for me. I hesitated for a long time whether I should start. But now I wish I had done it sooner! I do so many different things with my phone, from whatsapping to shopping lists, from calculating things to social media. It offers me a lot of freedom and social contact in comparison. I can't imagine living without my phone anymore. I also feel a lot safer knowing I can always reach someone if I need to. That's why I recommend everyone to start if you haven't done so already. The beginning can be difficult, but in the end, with all the help, it will all work out and you will reap the benefits!

Wednesday, 21 April 2021